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Old 05-06-2007, 01:26 PM   #1
James Besenyei
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O.K., I had surgery on my knee on Friday, and it's official I've got to lose even more weight. I knew that already but my doc confirmed it, he said he'd like to see me around 280-285lbs, considering that I have a very large bone structure he thinks that's about as thin as I can get while maintaining good muscle mass. Anyway, I think I may be able to commute by bike to and from work & school. I already love mtn. biking and used a bike as my primary transportation while living in Philly. My rationale is that I could keep my weight down while saving cash due to gas prices and aid in rehabbing my knee with some low impact exercise. Are there any CF'ers who bike commute, or who have bike commuted that can offer me some advice? I know it sounds like a very easy thing to do, hop on bike, ride to work-- I'm just looking to avoid common problems that new commuters may face, or things the uninitiated don't know about. Thanks in advance everyone!!

--Jim.
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Old 05-06-2007, 03:58 PM   #2
Connie Morreale
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hey james,
first the obvious: wear a brain bucket.

i dont know how far you have to go, but if you dont have a way to clean up after, i'd factor in enough time to peddle leisurely so you dont sweat too much. calorie-wise you'll burn pretty near the same amount wether you get there in 10 mins or 20 since calorie burn = weight x distance.

wear bright colors. if you bike with a camelback attach streamers to it or bright neon patches. you want to make yourself as visible as possible.

you probably already know this, but bikes are considered vehicles. therefore you aren't supposed to be on sidewalks and must ride with traffic, obeying all signs etc. i blow red lights all the time, when it is safe to do so, but i always have a twinge of guilt when i do.

if you are on a road bike, i'd get the knobbiest/fattest tires that can fit put on. punture resistant tubes, also. this way, if you are forced off the road you will have more control than with skinnies.
keep a spare and tool kit on you. maybe a co2 cartridge if you dont have a hand pump.

check the weather the night before to see what the wind will be doing. it can be very demoralizing to have to travel 10 miles east with a 15 mph headwind the whole way. at last you can factor more time into your ride and be mentally prepared for it.

if you ride with music, snake the earphones under your shirt. this way if something jostles them out of your ears they wont get caught in the wheels--- a mistake i learned from quickly.

when traveling on a narrow road, the inclination is to squeeze very far to the right. but this will sometimes impel cars to pass when there is little room for error. ride 2-3 feet off the shoulder and it forces cars to wait until they are sure they have clearance before passing. it ticks some off and sometimes they beep, but at least your not wearing your handlebars in your chest.

thats all i can think of for now. i'll post more later if i remember anything else.

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Old 05-06-2007, 07:02 PM   #3
James Besenyei
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Connie,

I'll be traveling about 10 miles one way. I won't be using a road bike but rather will be using my old mtn. bike with some fenders and slicks rather than off road knobbies. Have you used C02 cartridges before? I've never tried them, but do have a compact hand pump. Thanks for the advice.

Jim.
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Old 05-06-2007, 07:25 PM   #4
Roberto Dowse
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Jim

Connie had some great info for safety. You can not be to brightly attired (SP?) Cars are seemingly oblivious to bikes. Always assume the car does not see you and is going to run over you. And as long as you are riding safely-- Lose the headphones. It is much better to keep situational awareness.

Good call on the slicks. You can get along much faster with the lower rolling resistance. I like to use slime in my tires (or slime tubes) that way it takes a major puncture to flat the tire. But I still carry a means to repair a flat (and know how to do just that).

If you find it difficult to bring clothes with you on your ride in, try stashing a weeks worth of clothes at work over the weekend and then swapping them out the next week.

Good luck and have fun! Bike commuting is a great thing.
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Old 05-06-2007, 11:47 PM   #5
Rene Renteria
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I wear something like this to stay visible when it gets dark or near-dark:

http://www.rei.com/product/744614
(w/f safe link to safety reflective vest)

Thinking as a bike commuter, I think those blinking LED lights, both front and rear, are most visible or noticeable to me as a driver.

My ride to work is along roads with parked cars and driveways, so I'm always scanning cars ahead for heads and shoulders so that I don't get doored and driveways for folks backing out.

I leave rain pants like these in my panniers so that I have them if I need them:

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,14571_Sierra-Designs-Microlight-Rain-Pants-P ackable-For-Men.html
(w/f safe)

I use different shoes to ride in so that if it rains I'll have dry shoes. I should have dry socks, too, but I keep forgetting to put them back into my bag.

I also carry a drybag with me in case I need to take something home in the rain, but I haven't used it yet, so I probably don't need it. Just extra weight right now. Here's a link to a cheap one:

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,68406_Seattle-Sports-All-Purpose-Dry-Bag-Med ium.html
(w/f s)

Have fun, be defensive, be predictable not squirrelly, try to make eye contact with drivers if you're unsure at an intersection, never assume you've been seen.
Rene'
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Old 05-07-2007, 04:59 AM   #6
James Besenyei
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Roberto-- Thanks for the help!! I won't be wearing headphones, I've never wore them while on a bike (my bicycle or my motorcycle). I've never used slime when mtn. biking or when I lived in Philly, I've heard that the slime has a tendency to sit in the bottom of the tires. A long time ago, about ten years ago, my local bike shop used to carry these thin plastic strips that I absolutely loved, while they didn't prevent snake bites they always saved me from glass & nails and I rarely changed tubes. Any idea if anyone sells anything like that anymore? Do you carry C02 cartridges or a pump, I'm thinking about getting the cartridges but would like to know how well they work.

Rene-- Thanks for all the links, they'll come in handy!! I'm going to go the courier bag route rather than panniers b/c I'm used to riding with a bag of some sort on my back, and I just became accustomed to riding with a bag when I used to ride. I totally agree with drivers not seeing you from a motorcycle perspective b/c even on a large well lit bike (I've got a 1000cc Suzuki V-Strom Dual Sport)they tend to scan for large cars and trucks ignoring the small outline of motos and bicycles. As a car driver I always scan for bicycles & motos but even with due diligence sometimes miss riders. Do you find that attempting eye contact helps drivers to see you or are they usually too busy pounding their fists at traffic or laughing at the morning drive DJ's? Thanks for the advice.

--Jim.

(Message edited by jbes on May 07, 2007)
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:56 AM   #7
Bryan Veis
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James,

There are several websites devoted to bicycle commuting. (Just Google "bycycle commuting"). In addition, Bicycling magazine publishes a pretty good book on the subject -- it should be in print and available at Borders or Barnes & Noble. If you really want to get into it, Effective Cycling by John Forester (http://www.amazon.com/Effective-Cycl.../dp/0262560704) is awesome. He has a huge number of practical tips about cycling in traffic. It is more complicated than it appears, as there are hazards like doors of parked cars that you don't have to think about when you are driving. As a consequence, the edge of the roadway is extremely dangerous.

I commuted by bicycle for several years. The posts above have good info. If you decide you really like it, you will want to pick up cold-weather gear and raingear. The dry sack is a good idea, but plastic trashbags work fine. You can line a backpack with one, or you can wrap a pannier bag inside a trashbag and tie the bag shut (the handle-tie bags work very well, because you can secure the trash bag by tying the handles to the rack. All you have to do is make a small hole for the hooks that hold the pannier bag to the rack -- most bags are water resistant enough so that the small amount of leakage through the hole won't enter the bag.

Definitely don't use earphones -- first you need your hearing to cycle safely on the road; second, it is illegal in some jurisdictions to drive with music headphones on -- as a cyclist, you are a vehicle subject to the same laws that govern motorized vehicles.

Don't be a jerk -- a lot of cyclists forget this one. Riding between lanes, sudden movements in and out of traffic, ignoring stop signs and stop lights, and weaving around pedestrians all seem like a good idea when you are doing it, but they contribute to a public antipathy to cyclists. We all get classified as "bike messengers" (who tend, at least in DC, to the the worst offenders) as a result of this kind of behavior.

Above all, be alert, you don't have to be paranoid to assume that all the cars are out to get you.
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:52 AM   #8
David Bennett
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Good luck James! I am a fair weather bicycle commuter in Texas. I think its great exercise. But the WODs sometimes leave me without enough energy to ride the whole way, so be sure and plan your workouts so that you have enough energy left to get where you need to go and back. I went riding after a ME squat workout and ... well lets just say I won't be doing that again.

For more specific questions, you may want to ask the folks on the commuting forum at http://www.bikeforums.net/ (mostly work and family safe, except for occasional flame wars in the single speed forum).

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Old 05-07-2007, 11:26 AM   #9
Motion Macivor
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the best way to dry wet shoes is to fill them with newspaper and put them on top of your water heater. this will be nice and gentle to the material and your shoes are gauranteed to be comfy in the morning.
When your passing a long line of parked cars look in the mirrors for faces. Faces = open doors.
Downshift before intersections. If you have to stop or slow down getting back up to speed will be easy.
Trust nobody.
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:23 PM   #10
Connie Morreale
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never used the cartridges, but a friend i know wasn't keen on them. anyone else out there had co2 experience?
-------------

dy try n
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