Biking to Work – Getting Started

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After feeling the effects of gas prices and seeing the economy crater, I decided I’d like to see what it would be like to get around the SF Bay Area without a car. In other words, to commute via bike + train. I figured it might be a good way to save up some money for Christmas while getting into better cycling shape. And, more importantly, see how folks get around when they’re tied to someone else’s schedule. What I l experienced was very interesting.

Cost
Caltrain is the train system that runs between San Francisco and San Jose. Round trip rates vary depending on distance, but for my route it’s $7.60/day–a bit more than I was expecting (of note, for the 4 weeks I did this, I was only asked to show my ticket 4 times). Driving is 60 miles round trip and I get around 15 mpg. At $4/gallon, that’s $20 in gas; at the current $2/gallon, it’s 10$ in gas per day. So it is a small savings. Driving takes about 30 minutes while the train takes 30 plus 60 for the bike plus 10 for the shower at work. Bottom line: $2.50 in savings per day with an extra 70 minutes of commute time. Note: I blew through any savings by buying additional equipment.

My commute
I live at the top of a hill. The descent is about 400 feet in elevation, most of which happens within ¼ mile. It’s a thrilling ride with only one short climb from my house to the train station that’s just over 3 miles away. I can make it in 12 minutes. Depending on where I get off, it’s an additional 3 or 7 miles ride to work. Unfortunately, the drop off closest to work doesn’t have frequent stops, so dropping off at a place farther North provides more flexibility though longer cycling distance.

Day 1
I nervously arrived at the train station “on time” and boarded the train. Fortunately, I had ridden the train with the bike a few times before and figured out how to label my bike for on/off locations in advance. Labeling with on/off stickers is critical!

Unfortunately, I had inadvertently got the EARLIER train, which dropped me one stop South of my intended location. Using my crackberry, I roughly figured out where I was and how to get to work. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you’re faced with driving on unfamiliar roads with lots of traffic, it can be overwhelming.

The Orchestra

One One thing you’ll catch on to quickly is the “orchestra” of movement and, daresay, etiquette, that is critical for bike commuting.

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About the author: Twain Mein

Twain Mein is fascinated with the technology and gear aspect of cycling, and is a longtime product reviewer. Twain has been doing triathlons since 1987 and has been ranked in the Top 50 U.S. National Age Group on numerous occasions.


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Comments:

  • Anonymous says:

    Twain- this is a great piece. It’s really informative seeing how bikes can be combined with bay area transit.

  • Anonymous says:

    “The thing you do get while driving, though, is a chance to catch up with your friends via cell phone.”
    I am sorry that I have to be harsh, but as a dedicated two wheeler(bike, moto) year round, this is the exact line of thinking that gets cyclist killed. It is this idea that driving is boring and I have to make some good use of my time. I know, people are supposed to be getting those wireless contraptions; it’s just this automatic line of thinking when driving that is the real problem. Keep up the commute long enough, you will come to understand…hopefully not the hard way!

  • Anonymous says:

    Now, I also live in your area and am well aware of the perils of our inadequate transportation system. You are fortunate to be able to use caltrain, my commute can’t. Last winter, while my motorcycle was broke down, I tried to combine bike and bus; big mistake. It turned out I am actually faster than the buses, due to all the stops and waiting for buses. This meant a very long commute, with as much weight as I was lugging, once I gave up on the bus. I miss the “invigorating” morning pedal. Since I don’t have a desk job, I had to go back to the moto. I hope your experience inspires a few more cagers to give it a try, winter lethargy seems to be contagious in this country. I hope others reading have better transportation systems,like Europe. Good article, thank you for sharing your experiences.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article–

    FWIW, I’ve been commuting to work for the last six months by bike in the DC metro area, and have the following general ground rules. Today, it was 30 degrees when I came to work and I’m gradually figuring out what level of clothing I need to wear to arrive at work comfortably. We have a shower, so sweat is not an issue. Your mileage may vary.

    Rule #1: If you’re sure it’s going to rain, take the train. It’s not that one can’t bike in the rain, it’s that it’s amazing how few people can DRIVE in it. A few weeks of commuting (and any kind of moral compass) and you will think twice before you ever talk on a cell phone while driving without a headset. You can spot these folks a mile away because they’re all over the road. Combine that factor with city traffic and wet weather and the risk reward just ain’t worth it–unless you spend 90% of the time on the bike path.

    Rule # 2: If you don’t like or want panniers, go get a messenger bag or other bag that’s specific to cycling. I used to ride with my clothes in a backpack, and then bought the mid-sized Chrome backpack (not the roll-top). (The way I picked this brand is that I looked at what the messengers around my office use. These guys rely on their gear for a living. Nary a timbuk2 to be found). Now I hardly notice the load, even though I’m carrying more stuff to and from work.

    Rule #3: There is no such thing as too many lights.

    Rule # 4: If given the choice between irritating drivers and preserving your hide, irritate away. There are a lot of people who feel like bikes are not entitled to use the road and will get royally annoyed by your presence, but I have yet to meet one psychotic enough to try to knock me out of the middle of a lane. This becomes especially important where there are lots of alleys, garages, and delivery trucks double-parked.

  • Anonymous says:

    Twain – great write-up of your commuting experience. I’m more of a fair weather commuter and only commute by bike/train during daylight savings time and never when rain is in the forecast.

    btw, factor in the cost of insurance and maintenance for you car and the cost of commuting by bike instantly becomes a great value.

  • Anonymous says:

    My $.02 from an experienced bicycle commuter.

    1. Buy as much light as you can afford. Five years ago when I began serious bike commuting I bought a Niterider HID. At nearly $400 its lumens and 4+ hour burn time seemed like overkill. It is still working today, and the extra lumens have saved my butt from cars on more occasions than I can count. (If you do buy such a bright light and do a lot of urban trail riding, be respectful to other users at night. Don’t blind them, please.)
    2. Learn how to trackstand. You might fall over once or twice, but everyone can learn the skill, and it does payoff on the street.
    3. Fear buses and trucks and give them all the room they need.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the article Twain. It’s timely for me since I just started commuting to my new job this week. For a newb like me, figuring it all out and getting it together can be a bit overwhelming, but articles like this really helped.

  • Anonymous says:

    Bah-hah-hah…it was 16 degrees this morning in NY…

  • Anonymous says:

    Twain, if you sweat a pig on a roaster, I must sweat like 3 pigs!

    Instant shower – hand sanitizer gel – gets off the sweat, body oils, and kills the odor causing bacteria. I use it when I don’t have time for a shower, hair drying, etc.

    Those sanitizer wipes are OK, but nothing like a huge blob of gel alcohol on a wet wash cloth!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great reading, but let me add a few things as I commute 24 miles each way in NYC.
    a)Lose the Toy Lock!!!. Get the Best Kryptonite lock and chain they have.
    Nothing sucks more than losing your ride and having to buy a new chariot.
    b)Buy a 2nd lock to secure your other wheel.
    c) Get a rear rack and some decent panniers, at least one. Lap top in the bag with
    the locks in the other. YOUR BACK WILL LOVE YOU, plus it will keep you dry
    with the correct rack.
    d) Everyone sweats, even NEW YAWKERS. Wear Natural fiber top layers and at
    least you will smell a ton better than with synthetics. You may not even have to hit the shower. Trust me, you just need a towel, comb and a dash of deodorant.
    e) If you love you bottom, never leave any cycling shorts on longer than you have to. You will develop more sores than any human you needs down there.

  • Anonymous says:

    +1 that the cable lock is inadequate. It only takes four seconds to cut through with a pair of bike cable cutters or comparable pocket-sized tools. The basic $30-40 Kryptonite Kryptolock is fine for fairly nice bicycles here in Seattle. Some cities are worse than others. Choose an appropriate U-lock based on how much your bike is worth and how bad bike theft is in your city. A normal U-lock (not the mini ones) is enough to lock up the frame and both wheels if you take off your front wheel and lock it beside the rear. It just takes one time that you lock your bike insufficiently for you to regret it.

  • Anonymous says:

    Awesome feedback from all; I’m glad this was useful and thought-provoking.
    Regarding:
    – cell phones in cars. Yep, totally agree with dangers of cell phone use and driving. Kind of hypocritical of me. I like to think that I am hyper aware of motorcyclists/bicyclists, but it is a distraction. The point I was trying to make is that, these days, having “private time” to communicate with friends is difficult–and commuting takes up some of that time.
    I also agree that there is no such thing as “not enough lights”. And, indirectly, nothing more important than defensive cycling. You MUST be alert and aware with all senses at 100% because the odds are against you.
    With regard to a cable vs a Kryptonite-totally agree. Fortunately, work offers either “store it in your cube” or in a bike locker. The cable is meant for emergency errands, not daily lock up.

    Please keep the convo/comments going.

    -twain

  • Anonymous says:

    Also, great tips on the hand sanitizer and observations about “natural materials”.
    Isn’t it ironic that synthetics breath so much better but they STINK! Man, nothing worse than a worn cycling jersey.
    On the flip side, a “natural fibers”, aka a cotton shirt holds moisture but isn’t “smelly”.

    Dang. Too bad the best of both isn’t available (or is it?)

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article!
    Started commuting myself last year 2-3 times a week (32m each way) fortunately about 1/2 the ride is rural and the rest is more suburban than urban. Was nice to read about your urban experiences (and the replies) by contrast.

    I’ve got an early 90’s Bianchi Stelvio with a threaded steel fork and was thinking of changing out to carbon threadless. Steel is real but changing to a carbon seat post really smoothed my ride and hoping the carbon fork would add to it. Assumed you did the same (appears that way in the picture). Any tips on what should I know about that process?

    Also wanted to pass along that I use a Topeak clamp on pannier system. Really nice and also works as a fender but noticed it makes the bike kind of top heavy. Although it has really helped me concentrate on balance when I take my racer out on training rides I was wondering if anybody else has one as well and their experiences/thoughts on the product.

    Thanks!

  • Anonymous says:

    Bolter03-
    Holy cow, 64 miles/day is NUTS! In any case, changing out the fork could save you around a full pound though I don’t know if it would be much more plush than a steel one. It’s hard to find 1″ forks these days but Reynolds and Easton make some nice ones. Reynolds has a pretty nifty headset plug and the new Eastons feature some kind of built in screw system (with threadless forks, it’s an issue). You’ll have to get a new stem as well (Ritchey’s are awesome value/weight combo) and a new headset (stick with Chris King). But you might want to just try changing the saddle first; the Fizik Aliante is just plain amazing, check it out:
    http://www.roadbikereview.com/reviews/blog/fizik-aliante-carbon-twin-flex-pro-review/

    Good luck!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the tips. Was hoping to smooth out the ride a little more by going to the carbon fork (Wisconsin winters are not kind to the roads) but as you said it might be difficult getting a 1″. It appears that I can upgrade the fork on my Mega-Pro to a 1 1/8″ threadless and I’ll check with my LBS on that. The head tub looks to be a larger diameter than on my steel but that may be because it’s Aluminum.

    The saddle I have works well with bike shorts. I’ve looked at the Fizik and it’s nice saddle. I found a Specialized for the Mega-Pro that works great.

  • Anonymous says:

    The idea that synthetics do not always breath better that natural. Their strenghth is in the weave of the material. So the WICKING products are a combination of tighter and loose weaves so the moisture can go wick. However, if you wera wool as I do 90% of the winter time on the bike you will feel must warmer even when wet.
    Wool insulates the body, sythtics do notthing to insulate. Once they are wet, you are cold.

    Regarding cotton, that would be the WORST choice for anyone on a bike. It neither insulates or wicks.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been commuting the bay area for 25 years. Used to do 15 miles one way, now it is 9. I used to take 3 ahowers a day as I ride 18 miles at lunch also. If you skip the jacket and start out cold for the first mile you will stay much drier. If you are consistent with riding you will find you don’t need to shower because you won’t stink. If I don’t ride for a few day then there is a slight smell.

    Ditch the half fender and get a set of real fenders and add a flap in the front that goes within 1/8 inch of the ground. People will think your crazy but you will be able to ride without getting your shoes soaking wet. Also, chain maintenance is greatly reduced. I agree with the others that recommend not riding in the rain unless you get stuck which can be often. I gave that up 10 years ago after moving to a more scholasticly upscale neighborhood (PHD’s generally aren’t very good drivers, I’ve lived with 3.) Also the increase in cell phone use and texting scare the bageebees out of me that is go three miles out of my way so I minimize my automobile interaction.

    Great article and keep riding it only gets better. I really look forward to my commute becuase the trip always has differnet views and smells depending on the season and weather.

  • Anonymous says:

    very interesting story.

    I would think that everyone in the valley would look at doing more of this with the whole green movement, but your story says it take a lot of dedication to do so. There is almost no savings in money when gas prices are where they are today and the opportunity cost of the extra time to get there and back almost make it more of a hassle than it is worth. (i’d rather get home earlier to play with my kids than taking my laptop on scenic trips around the bay area.)

    As an every day kind of thing, I don’t think I would do it. As a, let’s get out there, have some fun, save the planet and do it once a week it would be a great idea.

    thanks for documenting your experiences.

  • Anonymous says:

    To reduce daily weight, I leave a u-lock secured to the rack at my usual destination so that I don’t have to lug it back and forth. I carry a lighter cable lock for the occasional side trip when anticipated.

  • Anonymous says:

    riding to work would be awesome, i’m only about 6 miles away.the bad thing is showering once you get there because i don’t want to smell all day. there is no train so the article didn’t mean much.

  • Anonymous says:

    Twain, Thanks for sharing your experience being a ‘bike commuter’. I must say, that prior to reading the article I had thought it would give a ‘first time biker’ perspective to bicycle commuting. But you seem to know significantly more about bike mechanics and materials than a ‘first time’ bicycle commuter would know. I have been commuting 10-25 miles a day by bicycle for over 20 years and I would like to share few of my own safety rules and general equipment info, if I may.
    GETTING THE “RIGHT BIKE: Over the 20 years I have been a bike commuter I found that bike commuting is hard on a bike so a pretty, new, thousand-plus dollar bike is going to get ‘dinged’ up or stolen if you do not keep a constant vigil over it. Start off by calling your local bike stores to see if they sell used bikes and get a decent used bike. You could also use CraigsList but sometimes those bike have just been stolen. DO NOT buy a used bike from a ‘bike rental’ store because these bikes are on-their-last-leg. I know this from experience.

    SAFETY RULE #1: BE SEEN!! Wear ‘high visibility’ clothing, reflective clothing, use bike lights excessively….whatever it takes to be seen by everyone on the road or on the sidewalks. I wear a neon lime windbreaker jacket with removable sleeves. It cost me between $45-$70 but it cost less then a trip to the hospital or a full tank of gas. I’ve also invested in a cheap set of front and back bike lights that take either AA or AAA batteries, which I have changed out for rechargeable batteries, and I will have the lights on anytime I think visibility is low.

    SAFETY RULE #2: ALWAYS EXPECT DRIVERS TO DO UNEXPECTED THINGS. Drivers pay little attention to objects smaller then them on the road (bicyclists) and few exercise the simplest of good driving habits, such as signaling a turn or looking before opening their door into traffic (‘dooring’). So always expect them to do something unexpected and always travel 3 feet from any parked car. If ever you see a car speed up, slow down and then speed up again, drift between the lines that make up their lane or the bike lane, immediately think DANGEROUS DRIVER AHEAD!!! SLOW DOWN & WATCH OUT!!! In most cases these drivers are multitasking while trying to drive and they eventually make a quick decision before checking to see if the way is clear and that could injury you. Also, treat Taxi’s as if they were a bus because they’re trying to get as many fares in in one shift and they will drive crazy to meet their goal.

    SAFETY RULE #3: CHOOSE THE SAFEST ROUTE TO YOUR DESTINATION: To reduce the chance of injury, choose your bike route so that it includes as much designated bike lane as possible, is well lit by traffic lights, and has little traffic. I’ve also noticed that the ‘time’ you start your bike commute can effect your safety. I’ve go to be a t work at 8am so I start my commute between 7am and 7:15am and I have noticed that fewer cars are on the road at that time. So if you have the option to ‘stagger’ your work schedule then you might want to experiment with what would be the best time for you to begin your commute. Also, almost half of my travel route is stripped with bike lane which I believe gives drivers a visual clue as to what is my lane and what is theirs. This also keeps me from haveing to compete for road space and possibly getting ‘doored’ by a parked car. My only pet peeves about bike lanes are drivers that double-park in them to do ‘quick’ errands and police that do not ticket those drivers.

    I hope this helps many of you have a safer bike commute…

    See you on the road…

  • Anonymous says:

    Twain, Thanks for sharing your experience being a ‘bike commuter’. I must say, that prior to reading the article I had thought it would give a ‘first time biker’ perspective to bicycle commuting. But you seem to know significantly more about bike mechanics and materials than a ‘first time’ bicycle commuter would know. I have been commuting 10-25 miles a day by bicycle for over 20 years and I would like to share few of my own safety rules and general equipment info, if I may.
    GETTING THE “RIGHT BIKE: Over the 20 years I have been a bike commuter I found that bike commuting is hard on a bike so a pretty, new, thousand-plus dollar bike is going to get ‘dinged’ up or stolen if you do not keep a constant vigil over it. Start off by calling your local bike stores to see if they sell used bikes and get a decent used bike. You could also use CraigsList but sometimes those bike have just been stolen. DO NOT buy a used bike from a ‘bike rental’ store because these bikes are on-their-last-leg. I know this from experience.

    SAFETY RULE #1: BE SEEN!! Wear ‘high visibility’ clothing, reflective clothing, use bike lights excessively….whatever it takes to be seen by everyone on the road or on the sidewalks. I wear a neon lime windbreaker jacket with removable sleeves. It cost me between $45-$70 but it cost less then a trip to the hospital or a full tank of gas. I’ve also invested in a cheap set of front and back bike lights that take either AA or AAA batteries, which I have changed out for rechargeable batteries, and I will have the lights on anytime I think visibility is low.

    SAFETY RULE #2: ALWAYS EXPECT DRIVERS TO DO UNEXPECTED THINGS. Drivers pay little attention to objects smaller then them on the road (bicyclists) and few exercise the simplest of good driving habits, such as signaling a turn or looking before opening their door into traffic (‘dooring’). So always expect them to do something unexpected and always travel 3 feet from any parked car. If ever you see a car speed up, slow down and then speed up again, drift between the lines that make up their lane or the bike lane, immediately think DANGEROUS DRIVER AHEAD!!! SLOW DOWN & WATCH OUT!!! In most cases these drivers are multitasking while trying to drive and they eventually make a quick decision before checking to see if the way is clear and that could injury you. Also, treat Taxi’s as if they were a bus because they’re trying to get as many fares in in one shift and they will drive crazy to meet their goal.

    SAFETY RULE #3: CHOOSE THE SAFEST ROUTE TO YOUR DESTINATION: To reduce the chance of injury, choose your bike route so that it includes as much designated bike lane as possible, is well lit by traffic lights, and has little traffic. I’ve also noticed that the ‘time’ you start your bike commute can effect your safety. I’ve go to be a t work at 8am so I start my commute between 7am and 7:15am and I have noticed that fewer cars are on the road at that time. So if you have the option to ‘stagger’ your work schedule then you might want to experiment with what would be the best time for you to begin your commute. Also, almost half of my travel route is stripped with bike lane which I believe gives drivers a visual clue as to what is my lane and what is theirs. This also keeps me from having to compete for road space and possibly getting ‘doored’ by a parked car. My only pet peeves about bike lanes are drivers that double-park in them to do ‘quick’ errands and police that do not ticket those drivers.

    I hope this helps many of you have a safer bike commute…

    See you on the road…

  • Anonymous says:

    Tony-excellent comments, and a great way to crystalize/reiterate the most important points.

    One comment on the “safest route”, which I couldn’t agree with more. The safest route may not be the fastest but it will almost certainly be the most scenic.

  • Anonymous says:

    15mpg… maybe you should get a more efficient car

  • Anonymous says:

    Great write up. I started commuting about seven months ago. I mainly travel on busy roads and have a couple additional things to add.

    1) I use a Blackburn Flea head light on FLASH mode. People seem to see the bright flash better. A helmet mount light also adds to the “Out of the Ordinary” factor. When we drive our minds tend to look only for cars and the differnt lighting gets better attention.

    2)Don’t be a lane hog. Drivers attitudes seem to increase the farther away from the curb you ride. I have a nasty bridge I cross both ways and it seems I always find a motorist who will stay behind and shine their lights as there are no street lights on that section. Might have something to do with the fact I have to ride 1/3 into the lane as there is no curbing either, kinda narrow.

  • Anonymous says:

    Good points Twain which lead me to a question. Anybody have comments on how you deal with Buses? They can and do cut us off at the stops, very hazardous when I’m actually doing the speed limit or faster. They cruise right around and pull over. Also hazardous to draft off them but who can resist especially when you know they are going to cut you off. So…at that critical moment I just pass them on the driver side. So they pass and I start moving out into the lane ready to pass when they start pulling over. All of this is tricky and dangerous but seems to be the only way I’ve found to deal with them.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a great thread. I want to follow up Randy’s comment. regarding being a lane hog. Bicycles are part of vehicle traffic, subject to all the rules and rights of a vehicle. This means you need to ride with traffic, follow all the traffic rules. It also means you have have the right to take a vehicle lane where there is no bike lane. If you ride on the extreme right of the lane, cars tends to try to squeeze by, increasing the chance of the car hitting you. The right way to do it is to take up the lane and make the car go around you. I would echo other’s comments on picking a safe route to work is the best way to go. I commuted via Montague Expressway in Santa Clara County once and saw my life flash in front of me. I’ve since found a safer way, two miles longer, but I get there without the drama.

  • Anonymous says:

    Regarding “being a lane hog”, I’m in between Dan and Randy here. On weekend rides, cyclists are generally too oblivious and it bugs the crap out of me. We do create a bad reputation.

    When commuting, it’s different; it truly can be bike vs car. It seems like you have to be “offensively defensive”. That is, get out in the lane a bit and be visible. Try to make eye contact with drivers behind you–make sure they see you. But always figure out how to bail off to the right.

    Does that make sense?

  • Anonymous says:

    Some pointers (my commute is 32 km each way, with no option to use public transit for any part of it):

    Leave the laptop at the office. Spend the evening with the family.

    Drive or take public transit when it rains, and use this occasion to bring spare shirts, socks, Gatorade, granola bars to stash in the office. Leave a clean pair of shoes in the office. Bring the laundry home in the car the next time it rains.

    No backpacks, put everything else in saddle bags. Backpacks are OK if you are 23 and very fit, but eventually your back will protest. Also in my case I’ll sweat more with a backpack. Trust me, this is not a good idea.

    Figure out a route that maximises low traffic and safe riding situations. A couple more miles won’t hurt. Be a lane hog. Don’t pull in to the curb if there is 200 yards with no parked cars, then pull back out into traffic again; stay in the lane as otherwise drivers see this as someone suddenly appearing in their lane. Be smooth and consistent; signal turns. Be prepared to stop at lights and stop signs, especially in high traffic areas. I am forced to ride the last 1.2 km into work on the sidewalk, which is illegal where I live but the alternative is not pretty as it involves crossing a major highway on a 6-lane suburban drag. I’ve had no arguments with cops yet.

    A fixie may look cool but you’re asking to get hit (I expect this comment will generate a lot of flack!). If you don’t need gears (i.e. no steep hills) and like the clean look, use a single speed instead; if you must ride a fixie, for crying out loud put some brakes on it.

    Be seen. Bring lots of lights in case you get a flat on the way home and don’t make it before sundown. A fluorescent vest is a good idea.

    Bring two tubes and the tools to change them, plus a cellphone to call the significant other. A set of Allen wrenches to tighten loose bits is a good idea.

    Finally the cash cost is a bonus after you include the intangible benefits of getting and staying fit, not burning any fuel, etc. Even if you only break even on the cash cost, you are still ahead.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article and lots of good advice.
    I commute to school and to work. Fortunately both places don’t have a dress code and I can wear any footwear I’d like. During the warmer months I usually pack a pair of flip flops (those that are older may call them thongs), or on the colder rainy days i usually just wear my shoes with cleat covers so that i can walk around easier and preserve the life of my cleats. Or another thing I have consider would be getting mtb shoes (less “clicking” from the bike rack to class) with egg beater peddles.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nice article. I live on cape cod, ma and work for the Coast Guard. I use to bike round trip in Miami Fl 55 miles, Atlantic City NJ 30 miles round trip, and now Cape Cod, MA 30 round trip. I cycle regardless of the weather. It keeps me sane. Great stress relief. I never need to go to the gym or show up in the evenings for a group ride. Rarely cycle on the weekend because I need the break off the bike. What I am getting at is, I never see anyone else biking to work. Never. Am I the only one out here that rides to work? Come on Miami, Atlantic City , and the Cape hang up the car keys. I also like the cyclist that says they cannot get enough time in to ride and show up at a group ride with their bike on a car. If I can ride in Miami for 6 years and not get hit once you can ride anywhere,

    [email protected]

  • Anonymous says:

    To lighten your load try leaving a pair of shoes and pants at work. I ride in to work with my bike shoes, shorts, etc. on and then change into the pants and shoes waiting for me in the office once I get there. All I have to bring with me is a fresh shirt and clean undergarments. You could even leave multiple pairs of shoes and pants there (brought in on a rainy day or occasional day you don’t ride) if you don’t want to wear the same pant or shoes everyday.

    That way you get to wear your cycling shoes and pants and don’t have the added weight and bulkiness of shoes and pants.

  • Anonymous says:

    … Do you live on Potrero Hill and get off at Hayward Park, perchance?

  • Anonymous says:

    great! i bike to work too. sadly, my place is just 2 kilometers away from my office so i had to go farther sometimes then retrace my route to return to the office. happy riding.

  • Anonymous says:

    Update July 2009: my car’s been in the shop for nearly 3 weeks so I’ve been riding/taking the train again. Largely uneventful, however, today I decided to take my Cervelo R3 on the adventure. Rode to the station in the morning. In the evening, was planning on riding back. Of course, I decided to adjust my seatpost height once again. *SNAP*-the collar bolt snapped off. So I rode 6 miles standing up to the train station and another 3 1/2 home from there. Talk about a workout!
    This is the SECOND time this has happened! As I said in the article, don’t mess with your commuter bike!

  • Anonymous says:

    Twain, great article. I’m just beginning to work commute in Wash, DC, which offers more than its fair share of adventures with double parked Fed Ex vans, city buses, clueless tourists, and lots of very irate drivers, but all in all it’s a great way to get on the bike in the morning when otherwise I’d be sardined inside one of our failing local Metro cars.

    But my real point is this: don’t you take your own advice? You know what they say about making the same mistake twice!

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, WSE, you are totally right and shame on me for not following my own advice!
    On the flip side, I did learn some valuable lessons in “riding out of the saddle”!
    Great way to build strength to compliment the cardio.

  • Anonymous says:

    In response to Dr. Tom, I agree that two tubes is probably a good idea, from 2 experiences.
    1. Was on the train when this guy got on, panicked. He had a sweet Parlee but had just flatted. He put his “injured” bike on top of mine in the rack. And then tried to patch the tube. Had no pump, so I gave him mine. Patch didn’t hold, so I gave him my spare tube–because it was important for him to get his bike resolved so I could get out on time. He fixed it in the nick of time. As far as Karma points, I flatted on my spare tube recently and had no patch kit (dumb). Another rider stopped and gave me his spare tube–and refused money. So I got my tube back.
    2. I have punctured my spare tube twice. First time, I was rescued as above. Second time, I swore loudly enough for folks to come out of their house and offer me a pump and a tube. Glad they were there! Again, they refused $. Still haven’t paid the karma points back for that yet.

  • Anonymous says:

    Your cost estimate for your car commute being based solely on the price of gas divided by mileage would make sense if a)your car was free and b)gas was the sole cost of operating a car. You failed to average in the price of tickets – moving and parking, parking meter fees and lot fees (I once paid $20/day for parking M-F), oil changes, insurance, registration fees, AAA membership fees (or alternately your towing, lockout & jumpstart fees), and so on. If you are paying $1200/year in insurance then you’ve got $100 to add to the cost of your monthly car commute fees.

    You might be saying “Well, I didn’t stop owning my car, only driving it” which, even so, the cost of gasoline is merely a conspicuous cost. The IRS places a ‘wear and tear’ number on miles which is something like (or used to be) 39 cents per mile (I think it’s higher now). Depending on how new your car is it might be depreciating quite a bit.

    Just my two cents.

    -M

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