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No Crybabies
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
commuting plan - critiques/suggestions?

Changing jobs from a private litigation attorney in a suburban office, close to home, to a city attorney in downtown Fresno. It will be about a 13 mile commute each way, ranging from very good suburban roads to somewhat conjested urban roads. There will be less need for a car at work, as there will be fewer out of the office meetings or court for me, plus I'll be downtown where most of the local action is, anyway. I'll have a nice, large, private office, where there should be plenty of space.

The plan is to commute when I can. I did a test run Sunday morning on my Pista, and it took about 45 minutes to go the 13 miles. It's absolutely flat the entire way. There are lots of stops and starts, and good bike lanes about 90% of the way. I don't think bike theft should be a problem at the office, but I'm not certain, yet, where bike parking is. It's City Hall, after all, so there are officials and cops everywhere (here's the building: http://www.fresno.gov/econdev/index.htm , which has been featured in some science fiction films).

I'm planning on using my Bianchi Alloro, a 1998 steel frame set up as a fixed bike, with full fenders, Gatorskins, thornproof tubes, dual headbeam lights, bright tail light, large seat bag, frame pump, and CO2 for quick changes. I'm switching out my Look road pedals for Eggbeaters, to use with mountain bike rubber soled shoes. I plan on using a backpack at first but then adding a rear rack and trunk bag.

There is no shower facility, so I plan to shower before work and ride relatively slowly to work. There is no way I can avoid sweating, as I sweat a lot anyway, plus it can be warm here in Fresno even at 7 o'clock in the morning. It will be extremely hot after work for the ride home, usually over 100 degrees here in the summer.

At work, I plan to keep at least a week's worth of suits and shirts, then have a laundry/dry cleaning service pick up and deliver there. I'll tote back and forth underwear and such. When I get there, I'll just wipe down with baby wipes, towel, and then mist my hair with a water bottle sprayer and blow dry.

If I unexpectedly do need a car, my wife works about 6 blocks away, and I should be able to walk over and get her car to use, assuming she doesn't need it. She would be there for a bail out ride home, too, if necessary, but most of the time she'll be leaving at least an hour before I do, to get home to get the kids.

I plan on using bright lime green jersey for the most visibility I can. The worst driving offenders vs. bikes I've found here in town are people who are pulling out from side streets from my right, who either don't look carefully or underestimate my speed (usually around 20 mph) (or they just don't give a crap). I have found as a driver, lime green/yellow is the most visable color for a cyclist, so I'll just bite the bullet and look geeky. I want to be seen above all else.

Seems like this 26 miles a day of riding, with all the accellerations, should help to lose weight and kick me back into shape, combined with a longer weekend ride. Should only require about a total of an hour a day of extra time vs. driving, including the preparation for riding (pumping tires, lining up bike clothes, etc.). Should also save about $4 a day in gas vs. driving the Toyota Sienna I just bought, plus the wear and tear.

Don't know if I can pull this off year round. I'm a little concerned about riding downtown in the dark, especially if there is rain or fog. Fog can be really bad here in the winter. Nonetheless, I'll have 4-5 months of riding in decent weather and full light before any of that season hits.

Any critiques or suggestions? I'm excited about it.
 

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I'm thinking you should find a local health club with a shower. Otherwise take a towel bath in a sink, you are likely to get in earlier than most so you should have a fair amount of privicy in the bathroom. Baby wipes are a last resort.

Try a large fanny pack instead of the backpack-you will sweat a lot less or at least it will dry quicker.

With good lights riding at night can be much safer than riding during twilight. Plus the cooler months are a lot better for riding.

Get and use a Kryptonite New York chain and Disc lock. Well worth the investment since your bike will NOT be taken. Just leave the thing at work, don't carry it with you.

I'll think of more later......
 

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No Crybabies
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks

MB1 said:
I'm thinking you should find a local health club with a shower. Otherwise take a towel bath in a sink, you are likely to get in earlier than most so you should have a fair amount of privicy in the bathroom. Baby wipes are a last resort.

Try a large fanny pack instead of the backpack-you will sweat a lot less or at least it will dry quicker.

With good lights riding at night can be much safer than riding during twilight. Plus the cooler months are a lot better for riding.

Get and use a Kryptonite New York chain and Disc lock. Well worth the investment since your bike will NOT be taken. Just leave the thing at work, don't carry it with you.

I'll think of more later......
Thanks. Good suggestions. You're the guru. ;-)

Will continue to look for a nearby shower facility. There's a hospital around the corner -- maybe it has something.
 

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plan looks good.

I find it 10 times easier to commute 4 days per week than 5. I use the car to carry stuff that doesn't go so easily on the bike and also for lunch time errands further from my office. More than the convenience, however, is that it takes away a sense of failure on days that I drive. There is no expectation of being a "perfect" commuter just being a guy who likes to ride his bike to work.

I seldom ride when it rains in the morning - putting on wet clothes to ride home sucks- or if snow banks narrow the already narrow, busy road I live on. Darkness is likely to be less of an issue than you would think. Lights are getting better and cheaper every year.

I only see 2 things missing from your plan. When you're starting and how much you're going to enjoy it. I'm not somebody who could commute because I'd weigh less, spend less, or waste less time sitting in traffic. I get it done because I like riding my bike
 

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It's not TOO Cold!
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I don't wear a Suit, BUT,

I get up and shower and shave at home, then ride to work, 17+ miles each way. I ride hard and sweat alot. When I get to the office, I take a few minutes to cool down, then wash up a little, change and put on more deodorant/cologne. Hang the cycling clothes on the work clothes hangers, so they dry out by home time, and get to work. My experience shows me, that I don't get stinky from 65 minutes of hard riding. It might be worse with a suit and tie. Other than, that, sounds like a good plan to me.
 

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My situation is a little bit different than yours, in that I work in jeans and a t-shirt. Some of this may be helpful though. I commute about 10 miles each way. I don't like panneirs or other luggage attached to my bike, so I got a BOB. I load it up Sunday night and pull it in Monday morning. I usually leave it at work, and pull it home on Friday night. I know its overkill, and I don't have it for much of the week. But it works for me. That way I can wear cycling clothes, and take off straight from work for a ride before I go home. I can fit a week's worth of clothes lunches, and breakfastses in the BOB, along with my laptop, and anything else I need.

I have been commuting for just over a year now, and I really love it. I look at it as 100 miles a week of extra riding, with essentially no time commitment. The family is still asleep when I leave for work anyway, and I get home maybe 10 minutes later than I normally would. It has also saved the necessity of an extra car in the family, so it is a double whammy.
 

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Just Riding Along
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Good Plan

You've obviously thought it through.

I have the good fortune of a shower/locker room at work. Even so, I sometimes find myself hot when leaving it, dressed, to the point I don't tie my tie until I cool down to office temp. Based on that experience, I second the suggestion of the bird bath in the bathroom; you can use cold water and a washcloth to improve the cooling effect.

My commute is hybrid (begins in car with bike on rack, finishes on bike; reverse to go home.) When I get home after a 1hr bike ride and a 1 hr car ride, I'm dry (except for the places I touch the car seat), cool and not really stinky (no objections from my keen nosed daughter who wouldn't hesitate if she were affronted by body odor.) That experience tells me your morning plan can work without a shower. GOOD LUCK
 

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Ride every day and meet with your wife once a week for lunch. She can bring in new shirts and whatever clothes you need and take the dirty stuff back. Put underwear and stuff in a bag and put it in a file drawer. No need to really haul anything.

Have fun. I do a 25 mile round trip about 2 or 3 times a week. Would do more, but need to pick up the kid from daycare a few days a week. It definitely feels good to ride most days. Kinda feel lazy when I don't ride, but kid time is more important.
 

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"Cypress Gardens" Fl.
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You'll be fine...........

Sounds like you got a pretty good plan going. Once you get into the groove of your commute you'll find out what works best for your given situation. I am also faced with the dilema of no shower facilities, and my appearance/odor is paramount in my line of work. What works best for me is to have a fresh shower just before leaving for work. Once I get there I cool down and wipe off with those "Old Spice" towelettes, followed by a spattering of my favorite cologne and a few swipes of a good deodorant. I keep all this in a file cabinet and "shine up" like a new penny when I'm finished. Bird bathing doesnt work for me in my situation, but it may for you. If you start off with a fesh shower you should'nt need it for just superficial sweat thats easily wiped off and your skin refreshened with a good cologne. (the alcohol content will really freshen you up)

I commute 14 miles every day for the last 3 years (unless i punk out and call the wife for e-vac) and my particular system works good for me. The point is to "enjoy" the ride, and whatever you can do to achieve that will only prove it's success. Just hop on your bike and do it,........you'll be fine!
 

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I commute 14.5 miles each way 3-4 days per week. I agree with rusa1586 that commuting 4 days per week is a lot easier than 5 days per week. I take all of my clean clothes to the office and bring the used ones home on the days when I drive (or take the subway). If you shower before you leave home, you can get by without a shower. MB1 is right, however, that baby wipes are a last resort. I stip down in the men's room and wash the essential areas with water from the sink and a towel. I usually manage to change when no one else is in the men's room. But, if someone comes in when I am less than fully dressed, it does not bother me; if it bothers them, then can come back later.

You should try to keep your bike in your office or in a storage place near your office. I don't know if your building has security or not. But, you should talk to whomever will be guarding the doors through which you have to pass. I'm in a little different position than you are in; I am a tenant in a competitive office market -- I worked out my bringing the bike into the office when we were negotiating the firm's office lease. But, being nice to the guards or maintenance people will go a long way to getting your bike into the building. You may also want to check out whether the maintenance people have a shower. In the building in which our old office was housed, there were no showers for the tenants, but there was one in the maintenance area. Your building looks like it may have an underground parking lot. If so, the powers that be may be more amenable to your bringing your bike through the parking lot and up in a freight elevator than your walking it through the front lobby. My agreeement with my building is that I walk the bike through into the underground parking lot and then bring it up on the freight elevator.

I really do not like to ride in rain. If it is raining in the morning, I get to work some other way. If it is raining in the evening, I usually will try to get a ride home with my wife. My reluctance to riding in the rain in the morning is that I do not like to start the day all wet. My reluctance to riding in the rain in the evening is that there seem to be a lot more accidents at rush hour when it rains.

MB1 is right about night riding; you are safer with lights after dark than you are at dusk. Get yourself a good lighting system. I actually enjoy riding in the dark.

The other key to the success of my commuting is that I try to not to ride when traffic is at its peak. I leave the house late and arrive downtown about five minutes past 9:00 a.m. -- most people have to be to work by 9:00 a.m. If I leave fifteen or thirty minutes earlier, I hit rush hour traffic, which is much more difficult to navigate. You can achieve the same thing by your leaving very early. On the other end, I usually do not leave the office until about 7:00 p.m. when traffic has cleared. My one commuting accident occurred when I left the office early -- around 5:45 p.m. -- and rush hour traffic still was on the road.

Good luck.
 

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Big is relative
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I commute 13 each way every day. Since I am in Hawaii, I get the heat, humidity, and rain. I agree with what everyone has said so far but will add a few. Have you considered SPD sandals for the hot months? I wear a pair of Lake sandals every day with my crank bros candy pedals. The only issue you could have would by trackstanding and jamming your toes into the fender. The Lakes have a lip around the front to protect your toes and to keep rocks out. You never have to deal with sweaty shoes or socks. Easy to walk in as well. We have facilities at work but for a while there were no showers. To adapt and overcome, I carried a small handtowel in my rackbag and would stop at a faucet outside and use a garden hose to wash out my hair before going inside. Washrag bath at the sink for everything else. I never liked baby wipes, I always felt slimy. My schedule now includes a morning meeting at 6am, so I arrive, change into a pair of running shorts and t-shirt, go to the meeting (which is informal), and then hit the shower. It provides a nice cooldown time. Buy a sheet of yellow or orange reflective stickers. Put them on your fender, seatstays, and helmet. I pass one guy in the morning that has them on his crankarms in alternating colors. It looks kind of cool and attracts attention. I go shopping once a week to stock my office with cereal, clif bars, lunch meat, cheese, bread, condiments, and soy milk. I have a small fridge. I basically eat two meals a day at work. If there is no junk at work, you have to eat healthy or you don't eat.

One other tip about the tires and it just may be my opinion and not based on any real data; put 28-38mm tubes in your tires, a fully inflated tire will not mean a stretched thin tube, the weight is insignificant, and you can ride a low or flat tire for quite a distance with that much rubber inside of the tire. Might be important on a dark and lonely part of your commute.
 

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midnight melon mounter
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This post if full of pros.

My bike commute is comparable to yours. I shower and shave at home, then take a sink bath at work with a baby wipe for the armpits and crotch.

I find that deodorant works better than anti-perspirant/deodorant for this routine. I sweat unencumbered, wipe it off, and stay fresh. I reapply deodorant at about 3pm. If I use anti-perspirant and then ride in, it cakes and gets uncomfortable.

My problem area for stink is my hair. No matter how much I wash my helmet, there is always some residual smell, and it remains in my hair throughout the day. These caps work wonders:

http://www.excelsports.com/new.asp?...tilator+Cap&vendorCode=DOWRAP&major=4&minor=3

I can keep it clean easily. It serves as a tidy smell barrier between head and helmet.

Enjoy the new routine,

Alex
 

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Alex-in-Evanston said:
My problem area for stink is my hair. No matter how much I wash my helmet, there is always some residual smell, and it remains in my hair throughout the day. These caps work wonders:

Alex
I solved the hair problem by shaving my head. When I clean up in the men's room, I just stick my head under the sink faucet and rinse off my entire head. Now, mother nature had done a pretty good job on my head before I first took a razor to it. If I were not suffering from male pattern baldness, I probably would not have taken the drastic step of shaving my head. But, the shorter your hair is, the easier it is to deal with it.

One other thing for Doug that came to mind this morning: If you carry stuff in your jersey pockets, get full zip jerseys. It is a lot easier to keep all of your stuff in your jersey when you get to the office than to: (1) try to pull a jersey with stuff in the pockets over your head; or (2) unpack the pockets, just to repack them for the trip home.
 

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Am I the only one who doesn't smell after sweating alot while biking? Or at least it appears that way from the times I went biking on the weekends came home and no one could smell anything as I walked in the door plus they weren't able to tell that the dried out jersety wasn't fresh from the wash.
 

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No Crybabies
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
solution

Alex-in-Evanston said:
My problem area for stink is my hair. No matter how much I wash my helmet, there is always some residual smell, and it remains in my hair throughout the day.
Just need some hair freshener. ;-)
 

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No Crybabies
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
rusa1586 said:
I only see 2 things missing from your plan. When you're starting and how much you're going to enjoy it. I'm not somebody who could commute because I'd weigh less, spend less, or waste less time sitting in traffic. I get it done because I like riding my bike

Of course. I look at this primarily as an excuse to get more riding in, not necessarily to save gas, save money, or save the planet. If my car commute would be about an hour a day, then there's an hour I could be riding, which is extremely valuable to me. I get 2 hours of riding for the time cost of about 1 hour.

I'm planning on starting within a few days of beginning my job. I'd like to scout out the logistics a bit more, then get going right away. I'll be sure and post the about the first time.

Thanks for all the input everyone. This is an invaluable source of not only knowledge, but more importantly, inspiration!
 
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