Author Topic: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?  (Read 1140 times)

mayodt

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Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« on: January 12, 2018, 07:17:18 AM »
Hey guys, this is my first post on the forum, I've been reading mr money mustache for a few months now and lately have been trying to bike to work as much as possible, but I have a problem - I work as a consultant and most of my work is out at construction sites. During the winter work is slow due to weather so I have been biking to the office but in the summertime construction is going full speed ahead so I need my car to drive to the sites (often the sites are 25+ miles away from the office). So, my average day will look like this:

- Drive home to the office to get my gear (~4 mile drive) and everything to go to the construction sites (Cannot take the gear home, work does not allow it)
- Drive to construction site(s)
- Drive back to the office to drop off gear
- Drive home

The only solution then I have to biking to the office and saving that ~4 mile drive each way is to leave my car at work and bike to the office. Luckily there is a shower at my office so I can shower after the bike in the morning. My girlfriend is not a fan of biking so she always drives her car everywhere, so if I need it in a pinch I can borrow it for trips that require more than a bike when I am at home but she is not always around and if I need my car in a pinch it's a 30+ minute bike ride away from home.

Is there any other way I could reduce my non-work paid car driving? I am okay driving my car for work purposes because I get paid per mile driven (but not for any drive between home and office).

Thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 07:19:00 AM by mayodt »

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 07:29:14 AM »
Can you bike in and then carpool to site with someone from the office?

mayodt

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 07:52:10 AM »
I work solo on most construction sites so most of the time carpooling would not be possible. I guess my best option would be to just leave my car at work, my main concern is safety of my car but my office has cameras outside to watch over the parking lot for their own work vehicles so my car should also be okay.

I see you are from Toronto, I live near Toronto so we have to deal with similar conditions in wintertime, how do you deal with the days where it is just dangerous to bike (e.g. freezing rain, massive snowfall the night before and all bike lanes and sidewalks are covered, etc)? Lately I have just been driving to the office on days where biking seems too dangerous, which is another reason why I am hesitant to leave my car at work, so maybe I will just take this strategy in the summertime.

Thanks!

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 08:17:19 AM »
I work solo on most construction sites so most of the time carpooling would not be possible. I guess my best option would be to just leave my car at work, my main concern is safety of my car but my office has cameras outside to watch over the parking lot for their own work vehicles so my car should also be okay.

I see you are from Toronto, I live near Toronto so we have to deal with similar conditions in wintertime, how do you deal with the days where it is just dangerous to bike (e.g. freezing rain, massive snowfall the night before and all bike lanes and sidewalks are covered, etc)? Lately I have just been driving to the office on days where biking seems too dangerous, which is another reason why I am hesitant to leave my car at work, so maybe I will just take this strategy in the summertime.

Thanks!

I don't cycle in freezing rain, but there are typically only 1 or 2 days a year where we get freezing rain so that's not a big sacrifice.

I don't cycle on the sidewalk, it's much more dangerous than being on the road.  It took being hit by cars twice on the sidewalk to realize that.  You move faster than a pedestrian, and cars aren't looking far enough up the sidewalk when they turn into/off of side streets, parking lot entrances, and driveways.  It feels more dangerous on the road, but it's actually safer because the vehicles can see you.

After snowfall I stay out of the bike lanes (not only do they not get cleared of snow, but usually the plows will pile mini-snowbanks in the lanes at random and they are often covered with ice.  The roads in Toronto are always salted, and occasionally plowed.  You get best traction by staying in the ruts formed by car tires in the roadway (and most busy roads will have the snow crushed down and knocked away by cars and trucks in a short period of time.

Doing the above, route choice and knowledge is very important.  Getting to know where traffic is lightest, what routes get plowed first, where there are stop signs at the bottom of a hill (gotta start braking early in the winter), and where big potholes are makes your cycling life a lot easier.

General winter commuting tips:

- Run tons of lights and reflective stuff.  Especially when visibility is shitty (snowstorm, dark in the morning/at night) this is very important.  My current setup is four of these lights on my backpack (https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5006-706/Turtle-Red-LED-Light?gclid=CjwKCAiA1uHSBRBUEiwAkBCtzTnMcxUgjb763RNavuixgwJ2vfmqG9kfVsAlSF00h1e-kk7MIKgBdRoC5UcQAvD_BwE) set to blinking mode, and this front/rear light running solid (https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5050-159/Blaze-140SL-Superflash-Turbo-Light-Set.  I've just started using one of these lighted arm bands on my signalling arm as well: https://www.amazon.com/Higo-Armband-Running-Bracelets-Package/dp/B016W0L0ZA.   It seems like ridiculous overkill, but I've done some tests looking out of our car windscreen and it's very, very visible.

- Reduce tire pressure.  I run 10 - 15 psi lower pressure front and rear if conditions are greasy on the roads.  This will give you better grip (and a softer ride).

- Learn how your bike handles on snow/ice before you commute in it.  I spent a couple weekends several years ago taking my bike to an empty parking lot to figure out how it would handle.  You can ride just fine on ice, but if you try to turn or use the front brake you'll probably wipe out.  Your rear wheel will slide around an awful lot in deep snow, but it's controllable.

- I'm a big fan of using studded flat pedals for the winter.  You can wear heavy winter boots if needed, you can get your feet off of them fast if you start slipping, and your shoes won't slide off even if they're snow covered.

rubybeth

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 08:26:14 AM »
Honestly, 4 miles isn't too bad if you minimize driving in other ways, combine trips with errands, etc. Biking when you can is good, but if you gotta drive, you gotta drive. I walk to work as much as possible, but when it's windchills of -30F, I drive.

mayodt

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 09:50:32 AM »
Thanks for all the info GuitarStv. I try to stay on the road as much as possible and have been exploring different routes to work but some busy roads are unavoidable and it's a little intimidating when trucks are trying to share a lane with you aha. I should pickup some lights to ensure I am seen though, I never thought of that since I mainly bike in the daytime. Regarding the bike tire pressure - My tires say they should be run 40-60 psi, I know that the lower the pressure the greater the ground surface area which increases grip but if I lower it below 40 psi wouldn't this possible cause issues with the tires since it's outside the acceptable range? I am running my tires at about 40 psi now on the low end to try to get this surface area, can I lower them more without an issue?

Rubybeth - I agree with this but 90% of the local driving/errands I do I can complete with a bike (more once I can find a bike cargo trailer for a reasonable price), I figure just using the average of $0.51/mile rule for operating a vehicle I would be spending about $4 a day alone on this commute (8 mile roundtrip). I do drive a more fuel efficient and should be cheap and reliable vehicle (2015 corolla, recently sold my 2007 f150 that was a hog at about 16mpg) so I could argue it might only be $0.40/mile but that is still ~$3.20 a day I could save biking alone (not even including the reduced fuel economy and increased wear and tear that a car gets up in Canada cold starting at -10 celcius and colder outside, the engine isn't even at optimum operating temperature by the time I get to work in winter most days). I guess bikes aren't free to operate either though, but should be considerably cheaper than $3 a day. Also I just google mapped my drive and it's actually ~6 miles one way driving but ~4 miles biking due to shortcuts you can't take with a car.

Thanks!


GuitarStv

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 10:54:24 AM »
I run my tires up around 80 - 100 psi, so a 15 psi drop isn't too huge.  If you're running lower pressures then drop them by a smaller amount. The upper limit on a bike tire is pretty much always a lie and you can exceed it safely by quite a few PSI.  I wouldn't go below the minimum PSI though.

Your optimum tire pressure should be determined largely by the weight (you, your gear, and your bike) on the tires.  This pressure is going to be different for the front and rear wheel (rear being higher).  I like the 15% drop method used by this calculator:  http://www.dorkypantsr.us/bike-tire-pressure-calculator.html.  If you're using mountain bike tires you might need a different calculator with wider widths.  If you calculate that way, about another 10 - 15% lower will improve grip without causing problems.

CptCool

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 01:36:15 PM »
GuitarStv I know you've given your post-ride wipedown method a few times throughout the forums, but I have a question - where do you do this in winter?

When it's above freezing I do bike cleaning & maintenance outside in the driveway. I'm in MN where it rarely goes above freezing from Dec-Feb though

My garage where I keep my bike gets to below freezing temperatures as it's unheated, so I don't really want to get water in there. I'd prefer not to bring my bike inside either, although I can if necessary as the basement is unfinished and has a floor drain near the door.

I dont really want to go 3-4 months without cleaning the chain and various other parts that get gunked up, but I also don't want to do the maintenance when it's that cold. Any advice?

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking To The Office With a Consultant Job?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 06:21:19 PM »
GuitarStv I know you've given your post-ride wipedown method a few times throughout the forums, but I have a question - where do you do this in winter?

When it's above freezing I do bike cleaning & maintenance outside in the driveway. I'm in MN where it rarely goes above freezing from Dec-Feb though

My garage where I keep my bike gets to below freezing temperatures as it's unheated, so I don't really want to get water in there. I'd prefer not to bring my bike inside either, although I can if necessary as the basement is unfinished and has a floor drain near the door.

I dont really want to go 3-4 months without cleaning the chain and various other parts that get gunked up, but I also don't want to do the maintenance when it's that cold. Any advice?

I open my garage and go about an inch inside to block most of the wind.  My driveway slopes away from the garage, and I've just resigned myself to having the far edge of it covered in ice.
 If you use very hot water, rubber gloves, and wash quickly you can get 'er done in just a few minutes so the cold is not so bad.

In the past I've also banged most of the snow off and then just brought the bike inside, straight to the bath tub.  If you're quick and careful you won't drip too much crap on the floor.  Once the bike is in the tub it's pretty quick to wash down with the shower head.  Then let it dry for a couple hours (This is critical - if you don't do this your wife will eventually ban the bike from coming in the house and you will have to do your maintenance in the garage regardless of temperature.  Also, don't use the little puffy thing your wife keeps in the shower to wipe grease off your chain.  Trust me on this. . .), lube it up, and take it back outside.