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When I commute, I usually leave the house around 8:10 a.m. I try to wait until the tail end of the morning commute and the school traffic is off of the roads. I hit the edge of downtown Baltimore around 9:00 a.m. -- rush hour ends around then and the last 15 blocks of my commute, which goes through heavily traveled streets, is less congested. The price that I pay for a late start is a late departure from work -- usually around 7:00 p.m. Lately the ride home has been more treacherous then normal because new potholes seem to develop every day and notwithstanding my vigilence in looking for them (and the good light from my NR Blowtorch) I have managed to hit a few going a little too fast. Last week I tried to leave home early (7:00 a.m.) and leave work around 5:30 p.m. so that I would have some daylight on the ride home. The commute took ten minutes longer each way because of traffic and my nerves were shot from dodging traffic on each end of the commute. My questions for the inveterate commuters: How do you time your commute? Do you leave early? Late? Just plow through rush hour traffic?
 

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Game on, b*tches!
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I time it to arrive @ work about 20 min early.

I take a shower at work. I can't vary my starting time. I work 2nd shift so I leave the house between 240 and 245 pm and arrive by 305-310. I am going opposite the direction of most traffic so my travel times are pretty consistant. Coming home is dark, but nice and peaceful. Very little traffic at midnight :D Only problem is that you've got to look out for critters; I almost hit a deer Thursday night! She crossed right in front of me and it was on a wet section of road so I didn't want to nail the brakes, fearing that I might be on some black ice. Missed her by inches.......
 

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It's a give and take...

I have similar issues. I choose to leave before rush hour gets too bad. This time of year, I'm leaving just after sun up. (6:45-7:00am). The first half of my commute is the worst. I have one busy narrow road leading to a highway corridor. By the time traffic picks up, I'm already beyond that and on the quieter/wider roads. You got the opposite situation so you leave towards the end of the rush. Have you thought of leaving so early that you avoid the AM rush alltogether. It probably means a real early start though.

My PM commute varies widely. If just going straight home, I'll leave around 5:30 on most days. By the time I get to the bads spots, it's let up a little. It is quite stressfull sometimes. I'm lit up like a Christmass tree and hammer. You can't miss me and I don't act like the kind of guy you want to mess with. OTOH, The last few weeks I've been extending my PM rides. I leave between 4:30 and 5:30 and ride in the more rural areas before heading home. By the time I hit the conjested areas, things have settled down.

One thing to consider...Get to work early enough that you can leave before the PM rush. Arrive at 7am and leave at 4 pm? Unfortunately, not all employers like flex hours.
 

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I guess I am a spoiled commuter...

My commute is 17.5 miles each direction, and only about four of those are shared with cars. As for traffic, seems like drivers are much less accommodating during the evening than the morn. Could it be that people are more anxious to arrive home than at work?
 

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The less congestion the better...

This time of year I try to leave the house before sunrise at around 6:30AM. This way I avoid most of the morning commute traffic. My commute takes me through freeway overpasses, narrow rural roads, railroad crossings and the usual inattentive driver. I quickly shower up and arrive at get to my desk at around 7:30AM.

I usually try to leave the office by around 5PM to 6PM. There can be a huge difference in traffic, though. I've found a few things that make the commute better. Consistency is probably the best thing from a planning perspective, especially if you have a job that has hours that are not too flexible. I think it's also a good idea to leave at the same time as some of the car commuters get "know" you. This works in the rural areas..

hth,
Mike
 

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My commute is about 25 km long each way and I usually see no more than 12 cars on the way. coyotes and deer and the odd horse are more trouble than traffic. I did come close to hitting a skunk last fall. That would have been bad. So rush traffic isn't a problem for me. Just the wind on a bald prairie.
 

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School busses dictate my schedule.

Most of my commute is on secondary roads running parallel to a highway that carries the commuters. The school busses in my town have a break between 7:15 when they drop off high schoolers and 7:30 when they take off after their next batch. I need to get off the smaller roads during that break or the traffic is miserable. I also need to be off the roads until the high schoolers with cars are safely in school.

The point of this is to make concessions to traffic. Pot holes are a way smaller risk than cars, and should one cause you to crash, it's way better to crash on an empty road. Put on some heavier tires and try to stay out of harm's way.
 

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36-spoke wheels, 35mm tires and @#$# the potholes

I won't start commuting regularly for another few weeks (I have to do about two miles on a freeway shoulder, and it's just TOO scary in the dark). When I do, though, I have some Velocity Deep V rims with 700x35 Panaracer Pasela tires. Let the potholes look out for themselves.
FWIW, since I switched from the standard too-skinny, too-light wheels and tires to the bulldozer setup, I've cut my flats and wheel problems by at least 80 percent. But I weigh 230 pounds, so you might not have to go THAT far.
 

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Roll Out Jeremy
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I consider myself fortunate

My route to work, 28 miles, is all designated bicycle route. The length requires me to leave at 4:30 am to be on the job at 6:30 am. It's 1:20:00+ or - on the bike. The return home is always within a couple of minutes of being the same. It's so consistant it's scary.
I usually get stopped at one or two traffic lights and they're pretty short. I'm also lucky to have a riding buddy to share the time with. We take turns beating on each other.
 

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my commute

I ride about 15 kms one way in the am, time is really weather dependent here! I live in Heidelberg Germany and we are in an east-west running valley that the wind funnels down over the river. On my way to work I pass one castle, ride down some medieval streets, take bike paths, and hit one dirt trail. I am currently commuting on a Jamis Nova, stock with Tiagra. I call it my weight resistance training. I have fenders, a cygolite and even a bell (as per german law). I ride daily no matter the weather.
 

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lately...arrive early, leave late

i'm working on a big project at the moment, so lately i've been leaving home 6am, getting to my desk about an hour later.

that's time enough for my 9.5 mile commute and a quick shower.

the commute itself is pretty easy. the first half is mostly bike path to avoid some traffic patterns that even i avoid, and flat. the rest is gradual uphill punctuated at the end with two sharp hills, one about 400m and the other about 600m.

of course, the way home is a hammerfest, nearly downhill all the way.
 

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commuting strategies

I generally don't have much leeway in my departure times, due to family responsibilities, etc. However, most of my commute is on an MUT, so I am not too inconvenienced by school buses, etc.

A few tips: on the old board, I posted a few times about the virtues of babywipes as shower substitutes, especially in the winter. If you have a late departure from home in the AM, showering at home and then quickly doing a "wipe bath" at work will get you to your work station much faster. Bad smells arise from bacteria metabolizing dead skin cells; so a shower at home and a wipe refresher at work, post ride, will have you cleaner than your more conventionally commuting coworkers.

A visibility tip: following someone else's tip, I put two small (about 1 sq. inch) patches of highly reflective tape on each rim, between the spokes (and NOT on the braking surfaces). On Mavic OP's, this makes me very visible to anyone with lights who is to my right, left or behind me. Having two/rim makes for a flashing effect while moving.

Regarding potholes: I find that I have to be constantly alert, and constantly maintain a mental map of potholes and places where water tends to appear (and freeze). You can always be surprised, so you need to constantly look for problem spots, but it is also a good idea to be able to anticipate trouble instead of just reacting to it.

The good news is that the shortest day of winter is already more than two months in the past, and soon we spring ahead to sun-lit rides home.
 

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City Streets are a challenge

MarkS said:
When I commute, I usually leave the house around 8:10 a.m. I try to wait until the tail end of the morning commute and the school traffic is off of the roads. I hit the edge of downtown Baltimore around 9:00 a.m. -- rush hour ends around then and the last 15 blocks of my commute, which goes through heavily traveled streets, is less congested. The price that I pay for a late start is a late departure from work -- usually around 7:00 p.m. Lately the ride home has been more treacherous then normal because new potholes seem to develop every day and notwithstanding my vigilence in looking for them (and the good light from my NR Blowtorch) I have managed to hit a few going a little too fast. Last week I tried to leave home early (7:00 a.m.) and leave work around 5:30 p.m. so that I would have some daylight on the ride home. The commute took ten minutes longer each way because of traffic and my nerves were shot from dodging traffic on each end of the commute. My questions for the inveterate commuters: How do you time your commute? Do you leave early? Late? Just plow through rush hour traffic?
I'm early enough so my short ride on city streets is not too hectic. For me, the worst is the kiss and drop zone at the K-8 school. Those moms and dads are hazardous and the crossing guard seems to take pleasure in stopping me!

I'd try earlier times (maybe 15 or 20 minutes would make a big difference) and alternate streets. I take a longer ride to avoid certain streets and roads. Maybe parallel streets have less traffic. If it takes 5 minutes longer, that's GOOD!

You didn't mention bike paths so I suppose none are available - I have one available to me but don't use it as it is paved with stone chips. Can you use sidewalks when traffic is at its worst? I sometimes go up a driveway and down the sidewalk (rarely any pedestrians) when a long line of cars is ahead of me at a red light.

My total commute exceeds 50 miles. The last 8, 10 or 15 (most often 10, others depending on circumstances, etc., maybe 20 or more if the biking year goes well) are by bike. I have a shower at work and noone else gets to park inside the building.

I ride a geared bike. Many notables on this board commute on fixed gear bikes. My hills are too steep or my engine's too small for that!
 

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7 minutes in the am and 12min in the pm

I live really close to my office. In the am I just go down a hill and spin for about 4 minutes to get to the office. Don't even need to change into cycling gear. On the return it takes a little longer because I've got to climb up the hill. I love living near the office!
 
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