Author Topic: 13 mile each way bike commute  (Read 13805 times)

Dman214

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13 mile each way bike commute
« on: January 16, 2014, 05:56:25 AM »
Hello all,

Looking for any feedback on a longish bike commute. I'm going to be starting a new job soon and have been wanting to begin bike commuting and hope this will be a good opportunity. As mentioned in the title, the commute is 13 miles each way according to Google maps and goes through one Atlanta suburb to another. Unfortunately there's not a shower or anything at the office.

Anyone done a commute frequently this long with success over a period of time? Any advice on getting started?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2014, 07:00:38 AM »
It's longer than mine (9 miles each way) but here's what I'd suggest:

Fold your work top in your backpack/pannier/etc. Wear a sweat-wicking shirt and then whatever extra layers you need on top of that. Wear some sort of pant over your work pants to avoid the nice pants getting ripped in chain, road spray, etc. I have an old pair of Dickies work pants that works really well for that. If you don't have a rainjacket the Marmot PreCip is nice, and with their frequent coupons, i nabbed mine on Sierra Trading Post for $48.

You'll sweat, but you'll dry off quickly with the right base layers. Don't attack the route too hard. Bring a stick of deodorant with you and reapply when you get to work. I work in high-end retail and that strategy hasn't ever earned me weird looks from my clients.

For getting started, ride on your free time, starting with a 5-6 mile ride every day. Build up from there depending on your physical condition. Going from zero to 26 miles a day can be hard. Alternatively, do it a couple days a week, giving yourself recovery days until you're strong enough to do it every day.

GuitarStv

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 07:04:48 AM »
Find a shower if at all possible.  I commute about 10 miles each way, and there's no possibility of me not being sweaty as hell upon getting in to work.  Check out gyms, YMCA type places . . . anything similar near where you work to try and find showers.

My advice would be to ease into this commute.  Maybe drive in one day with your bike, bike home.  Bike in the next morning, leave the bike, drive home.  Repeat this for a week or two until you feel up to doing the full distance.  Then do one or two days a week, and work your way up to daily.  If you don't sleep eight hours a night now, you may be surprised that your body will require it.

Get a rack for your bike and some panniers.  Long commutes suck with a backpack of stuff on your back.  The heavy back pack will make your ass and wrists sore from the extra weight, and your back will sweat even more than normal.  Get fenders for your bike . . . besides keeping you dry in light drizzle, it's really nice not to be blasted with dirty road water from your front tire in heavy rain.

Carry a pump, spare tube, bike multi-tool (allen keys, spoke wrench, chain breaker), and make sure you know how to change a tire, and adjust your brakes.  Something bad will happen sooner or later, and you don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere having to call an expensive cab.  Get a decent bike floor pump and fill your tires to correct pressure every morning that you leave.  Correct pressure means you don't have to pedal as hard, and you're less likely to flat out.  It's worth doing all the time.

Keep stuff at work so you don't have to bike with more than you normally would.  Keep your heavy bike lock and chain at work.  Keep a pair of dress shoes at work.  If you can't find those showers keep a hell of a lot of deoderant at work.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 07:13:11 AM »
Heh, depends on how much you sweat, I guess. If the route is flat and you're not booking it, you might not sweat much at all. That said, my route has a few pretty large hillclimbs and if I wore my dressshirt, yeah, it's soaked through when I get there.

Rack and panniers are nice but the backpack is doable if you don't want to spend the money. Reminds me that I need to install the rack I got for Christmas...

What kind of bike do you have? If you have a MTB like I started with, you're going to need a hell of a lot of dedication. A hybrid/touring bike is best, especially one that already has rack mounting points.

HayMaker

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 10:18:21 AM »
Heh, depends on how much you sweat, I guess...
He did mention riding through Atlanta....

I can shower at work so that's not a problem, but what to do with my shirt and shoes on a 32 mile round trip?  Keep a couple of pairs of shoes at the office maybe?  I'm thinking I could drive in on Monday, drop off my shirts for the week, ride the rest of the week and stuff the used shirts in my backpack or saddlebags to get done over the weekend.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2014, 10:27:49 AM »
what to do with my shirt and shoes on a 32 mile round trip?  Keep a couple of pairs of shoes at the office maybe?  I'm thinking I could drive in on Monday, drop off my shirts for the week, ride the rest of the week and stuff the used shirts in my backpack or saddlebags to get done over the weekend.

That would work if you have an office to store stuff (I don't). In winter I pack my shoes in my backpack and carefully fold my dress shirt on the very top. Comes out fine (by my standards, and all my shirts are super-duper wrinkle free fabrics). If I need to, I drag my trailer along for extra space or when I'm shuffling supplies back and forth that are too big for the pack but not big enough for the car.

Dman214

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2014, 10:40:55 AM »
I'm thinking I should have an office so I think I'll be able to leave a few pairs of shoes, shirts, pants there.  As far as the bike itself, it's a mountain bike like you guessed. (This one: http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/category/bikes/mountain-bikes/product/review-gary-fisher-bikes-tarpon-07-27708/) It doesn't have a rack or panniers.  I am currently debating going for a hybrid/touring bike that have those built in. Good idea with the drive-in, bike home, then reversed the next day...That's how I think I'll start.

I think this time of year I would be fine without a shower, but come summer with the humidity I'd be soaked...may need to see if I can find some place nearby.

As far as the spare tire, pump, multi-tool...you carry all that in the pannier?

Any recommendations on a light? It will probably be dark either in the morning or at night.

GuitarStv

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2014, 11:23:04 AM »
I'm thinking I should have an office so I think I'll be able to leave a few pairs of shoes, shirts, pants there.  As far as the bike itself, it's a mountain bike like you guessed. (This one: http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/category/bikes/mountain-bikes/product/review-gary-fisher-bikes-tarpon-07-27708/) It doesn't have a rack or panniers.  I am currently debating going for a hybrid/touring bike that have those built in. Good idea with the drive-in, bike home, then reversed the next day...That's how I think I'll start.

I think this time of year I would be fine without a shower, but come summer with the humidity I'd be soaked...may need to see if I can find some place nearby.

As far as the spare tire, pump, multi-tool...you carry all that in the pannier?

Any recommendations on a light? It will probably be dark either in the morning or at night.

Multi tool is pretty small and light . . . like the size of a swiss army knife.  I keep that in an under the seat saddlebag along with the spare tube.  The pump is strapped to the frame of my bike.  Don't carry a spare tire!  You'll want a front and rear light to be visible to cars.

Bike light reviews:
http://bicycles.blogoverflow.com/2013/09/the-2013-headlights-review/

Tail Light reviews:
http://bicycles.blogoverflow.com/2013/09/best-bike-tail-lights-review/


Mountain bike tires will make your commute brutal.  If you have knobby tires it might be worth picking up a set of cheap slicks at your local bike store.  They'll make a drastic difference to your speed and effort on the bike.

kendallf

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2014, 01:43:12 PM »
I have a longer commute (14 miles currently, used to be 19).  I use some of the suggestions above, sometimes riding one way each day, sometimes alternating days with the motorcycle.  I leave a pair of shoes in my office, and use panniers to bring clothing to and from work.  I'm fortunate to have a shower at work.

You've had a bunch of good suggestions already, my advice is also to get a skinny tire (road) bike of some sort.  You'll be much happier riding those distances.  For commuting I like old road bikes from the 70s-80s.  You can find them cheaply and the  older steel frames often are easier to convert to a good commuter with racks, fenders, slightly fatter tires, that sort of thing.   I'd add that for lights for a daily commute, spend a bit more for some rechargeable lights.  You'll save lots in the long run. 

Oh -- don't get too fancy for a commuter, either.  As an ardent cyclist and bike nerd, I built a beautiful long distance touring/commuting bike a couple of years ago.  Stainless fenders, rack, disc brakes, generator hub and lights, leather seat.. it was cool.  I rode it 300+ miles solo down through Florida on one trip, and commuted on it regularly. 

I took it to the downtown library a couple of months ago, locked it, walked inside for 20 minutes, and returned to find it missing.  My new commuter is a lot lower buck but gets me there just fine, and nobody's stolen it yet.  :-)

Thegoblinchief

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2014, 02:40:56 PM »
The Sweethome has a good piece on rechargeable bike lights. Eventually I'm going to buy their recommendations. Didn't have enough $ to buy them when I first got lights.

http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-commuter-bike-lights/

Currently I have a set of Bell Radian 5-LED lights. The set is only $25ish on Amazon. Uses AAA batteries but batteries in bulk are cheap. And I've gotten well over the stated battery run time so far, which is odd since it's been super cold here. Bike hasn't been warmer than 45F the entire time I've had the lights.

http://www.amazon.com/Bell-Radian-550-Light-Set/dp/B00B697ODK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389908552&sr=8-1&keywords=bell+radian+5+light
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 02:44:01 PM by Thegoblinchief »

captainawesome

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2014, 06:40:11 AM »
Congratulations on the decision to start biking to work. Like it's been mentioned, at least change out the tires or get a bike more suited for the commute.  I might also suggest at that distance getting some clipless pedals and shoes (FYI nashbar has a 30% sale on shoes ending today). I take one day a week where I don't ride to work and it gives me the ability to resupply (towels, socks, underwear, shirts, shoes etc) that way I don't have to carry too much with me daily, beyond my lunch, water, and workout stuff. Definitely suggest compact rain gear too (patagonia makes some decent rainwear that can be easily folded up into it's own pocket and stored in a bag). I personally like to use merino wool shirts when biking, they wick the sweat away but dry pretty quickly on a hanger at work, and don't smell afterwards like synthetic.

Oh and make sure your tire pressure is up to par, learned that the hard way the first day. Good luck on your new commute!

Dman214

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2014, 08:04:47 AM »
Sounds like consensus is I'll probably want a new bike, if a commute this long is going to be something sustainable.  With that in mind, I'm currently weighing trying to find something decent on craigslist or just buying new, and figuring out how to add a rack or fenders (if I think I end up needing it).

Looking at a few of these....
GT ZUM Flat Bar Road Bike - 2013 Performance Exclusive $399
http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1131041_-1_400319__400319

Nashbar FB1 Flat Bar Road Bike - $449
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_534870_-1

Or a bit more $ for this one..
Nashbar CX1 Cyclocross Bike (has drop hands) $599
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_547466_-1___203559#ReviewHeader

Thegoblinchief

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2014, 08:34:08 AM »
Look on craigslist. I ended up with a used Trek 7500 FX for $250, and it's a really nice bike.

The Trek FX series in general is nice. Specialized Cirrus is nice as well, though harder to find used in my market at least. Others may chime in as well, and here's a thread I started a while back:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/ask-a-mustachian/bike-recommendations-12121/

The $599 Nashbar cross bike isn't too great. Not familiar with the other ones.

Dman214

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2014, 10:42:33 AM »
As an update, step #1 done! I picked up a nice Trek 7.2 FX in great shape today off craigslist for $225.  Came with a rack and everything is in much better condition than my aging mountain bike. Thanks for the advice all!

mm1970

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2014, 01:06:57 PM »
When I was biking, I used bike bags and a rack.

One bag holds my computer and wallet.

One bag holds my work clothing and shoes (I do not have to be "pressed").

I used bungee cords to strap on my lunch bag on top.  But my husband used a backpack on his bike.

I biked 10 miles, hilly-ish.  I would only sweat a little bit because it was early in the morning and not too hot.  Once I cooled down I'd just change clothing.  You could take a washcloth and wipe yourself off as you change.  Keep in mind, I wasn't smoking fast.  I would "mosey" for lack of a better word, and there were plenty of stop lights.  It would take 50-55 minutes to go 10 miles (If I tried to haul butt, I could do it in 42 if the traffic lights went my way).

One of my coworkers got a "really cheap" membership at the gym next to work.  She ONLY used it to shower.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2014, 06:31:16 PM »
As an update, step #1 done! I picked up a nice Trek 7.2 FX in great shape today off craigslist for $225.  Came with a rack and everything is in much better condition than my aging mountain bike. Thanks for the advice all!

Sweet, you'll love that bike. Hope your commute goes well :)

GuitarStv

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2014, 05:39:22 AM »
As an update, step #1 done! I picked up a nice Trek 7.2 FX in great shape today off craigslist for $225.  Came with a rack and everything is in much better condition than my aging mountain bike. Thanks for the advice all!

May I suggest a nice pair of bar ends too?  Trust me, being able to move your hands around on that commute will make things a hella lot more comfortable.

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2014, 07:28:38 AM »
I don't have an office, I only have a cubicle, but I keep a box under my desk with my clothes for the week in there.  My DW goes past my work, so I can always get her to bring stuff for me for the weekly clothing shuffle.  Keeping spare socks, underwear, 'work shoes', etc.. at my desk make things a whole bunch eaiser.

poxpower

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2014, 10:32:31 AM »
Get a road bike. The FX is good for errands, but not for a commute of this length. Hybirds are built for leisurly strolls through the park, not badass manly comet-speed commutes.

If you're on roads: Road bikes. Not an old one either, but a new model with clip-in pedals and shoes. While it's a waste of money to commute to work in a Ferrari, it's not to do so in a good road bike where you actually CAN use the machine's full potential to get around.
That saves you effort and time and makes the commute way more enjoyable. It also allows you to bike long distance on weekends as your hobby! Wee! Hybrids are a punishment from God for people who are afraid of road bikes.

I'd expect the original price for all the needed gear at probably 600-1000$ though. Yes it's way more money but ever so ridiculously worth it ( in my mind ) given the golden opportunity to keep the bike indoors all day. If you have a friend who bikes, ask to try his road bike if you don't believe me.

GuitarStv

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2014, 10:57:59 AM »
Get a road bike. The FX is good for errands, but not for a commute of this length. Hybirds are built for leisurly strolls through the park, not badass manly comet-speed commutes.

While I love my touring bike (and use it all summer long for commuting/groceries/etc.) . . . this isn't very good advice.  There's less than a minute of difference between my winter bike (hybrid) and my touring bike.  With bar ends, a flat bar is about as comfortable as a drop bar (since you can move your hands around regularly and since you can set up the seat position about the same).  It's maybe slightly less aerodynamic since you don't have a drop position.  Every spring I blow by the spandex crew with their fancy bikes and stolen superhero outfits on my 10 mile commute to work on a hybrid.  With loaded panniers.  And wearing floppy clothing.  And flat pedals.

The hybrid should work great for his commute.

poxpower

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2014, 12:43:38 PM »
The hybrid should work great for his commute.

Depends on your fitness level and the number of stops on your route really.
I highly recommend anyone who bikes a lot or plans to bike a lot try a road bike with full gear just to see the difference.

If I was going to ride a 20 mile commute every single day for 10-20 years, I'd want to do it in the fastest, most fun and most efficient way possible.

GuitarStv

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2014, 01:01:37 PM »
The hybrid should work great for his commute.

Depends on your fitness level and the number of stops on your route really.
I highly recommend anyone who bikes a lot or plans to bike a lot try a road bike with full gear just to see the difference.

My experience is that a dedicated high falootin' road bike is a very fun toy.  They kinda suck for commuting on though.  Very expensive means you can't ever be sure parking the bike somewhere that it'll be there on your way home.  18mm tires are much less comfortable on the wrists and ass than 32 mm.  They're also more prone to flats and punctures.  Few modern road frames have attachment points for racks and fenders.  I'm not sold on carbon fiber either . . . it's a pain in the ass when you can't adjust your seat for fear of cracking the frame.  Don't even get me started on stupid wheels that come with modern bikes with low spoke counts and silly spoke patterns that are damned near impossible to repair in case of trouble.

Finally, the guy just bought a bike for his commute.  The bike should work fine.  Telling him he needs to go out and spend more than a grand on a new bike because the bike he just bought isn't good enough . . . that's just being a dick.

poxpower

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2014, 01:54:50 PM »
Finally, the guy just bought a bike for his commute.  The bike should work fine.  Telling him he needs to go out and spend more than a grand on a new bike because the bike he just bought isn't good enough . . . that's just being a dick.

That's just personal preference maybe but I ride a LOT (6000-6500 miles a year) and if I had the chance to do my commute and leave my bike at the office, I'd DEFINITELY do it in a road bike with full gear, no question about it, it's a world of difference in my mind. 

13 miles each way is a lot.

I don't recommend he buys a road bike right away though, I guess I didn't make that clear, sorry!
For right now, the hybrid is more than fine, especially for errands.

But down the road I highly recommend everyone try a proper road bike at least once in their lifetime to see the difference and if they like it.

Of course I am biased since road cycling is the sport I practice but if you can merge your hobby with your workouts and your mode of transportation well... why not?

I could go on for a long time about the advantages of a road bike for commuting but yes, you are right, at the end of the day the hybrid will get the job done at probably 1/2 - 1/3 the total price.

But for me personally, that is money extremely well spent, but I do realize not everyone might share this view.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: 13 mile each way bike commute
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2014, 03:29:27 PM »
My ass is hurting just thinking about commuting on a road bike. Way too many potholes and uneven road transitions.