View Full Version : How often do you ride to work?

04-30-2010, 12:40 PM
Use the comments to share secrets you've learned about how/what to pack, how to clean up after arriving work, and anything else you'd like to share about bike commuting!

04-30-2010, 02:29 PM
I am very lucky, I work downhill from my home. So I rarely break a sweat on my way in. However, depending on the season,I carry rain pants and a rain coat in my Ortlieb panniers. They are not cheap. But they do the job.
I used to be very worried about the weight of them but I don't even notice it as I scale my hills on my home commute, even when it's HOT

04-30-2010, 03:30 PM
Use the comments to share secrets you've learned about how/what to pack, how to clean up after arriving work, and anything else you'd like to share about bike commuting!

Trial and error. That's what works. Don't be afraid to try something out - a bag, a route, a method. If it doesn't work...try something else. I used to use a back pack to carry my stuff (towel, change of clothes, and sometimes lunch). Then, a car accident injured my neck and back, so I moved to panniers. I've gone through several makes, and have currently settled on the Arkel Commuter bag, which I love and is 98% perfect (if it could stand flat on the ground without tipping over, it would reach that magical 100%).
What I learned:
* Cheap beach towels are GREAT. They are big and absorbent, and they fold fairly small, so they don't take up as much room in my bag as a standard bath towel.
* If you can, keep shoes by your desk so you don't have to cart them back and forth in your bag.
* COFFEE!! I can't start my day without it. I found a cheap thermal coffee carafe from Ikea or even TJMaxx fits in a bike water bottle cage. I put an old sock on it to keep it from jiggling around in the cage.
* I am fortunate to have a bike locker for parking my bike. Love. It. If you can score one, I highly recommend it.
* I am also fortunate enough to have a fitness center in my building. Makes showering easy before work. I rent a small locker for keeping toiletries so I don't have to cart that back and forth.
* If you want to start and have a vague idea about where you need to go, try it on the weekend first, when you aren't rushed to get to work and there's less traffic to worry about.
* Have fun. I arrive at my office with a smile. Bike commuting is definitely the BEST way for me to get to the office. Okay, so I don't get to listen to my podcasts or read my e-books or the paper, like I would on the subway, but I get my daily aerobics class....for free! Sweet.

04-30-2010, 03:33 PM
I rode regularily for a while post-Katrina (hurricane). But as the population returned, and traffic increased, my route became too dangerous, and I gave it up. Part of the problem is limited crossings of the industrial rail-road belt. Another part of the problem are narrow streets and no bike lanes.

Excuses, excuses.....

04-30-2010, 04:53 PM
I answered daily rain or shine but really if it is raining I drive. I have only missed riding to work 5 times in the last 2 years so I think that counts as daily. There are many a day, especially after a bad day at work when riding my bike home is the best part of my day. That never happened in the car.
My advice take the long way home and enjoy the ride.

04-30-2010, 05:45 PM
I've commuted a few times, but for the most part I have to drive. Part of my job is driving across town several times per day for various meetings. At some point, I want to leave my car at work and commute to home/work regularly,... this will hopefully start sooner than later- I have to be more confident and less lazy. Haha.

The few times I've done it, I've used my panniers w/ all of my goodies, but wore my work clothes to & fro- 1.5 mi downhill from home.

04-30-2010, 07:21 PM
Never, because my work site is 26 miles away. Wish I could.

05-01-2010, 05:49 AM
I work in 5 different places throughout the week... a couple just a few km's from home, and one 12.5 km's from home. When I first bought my "real" bike a few years ago, my goal that summer was to try commuting to my far workplace at least once. For me, that was the longest solo ride I'd ever done. Sometimes psychological barriers are harder to overcome than physical ones! So, my tips:

- believe in yourself
- give yourself way more time than you think you would need, so you aren't anxious about being late
- use panniers: you can pack way more and they feel way less cumbersome than something on your body
- graciously accept all the shocked compliments from your coworkers who would never do it themselves

05-03-2010, 07:58 AM
I work from home, and have for the last three years. Before that, however, I commuted by bike 14 miles each way year round, three times per week. So I put that as my answer to your poll.

I may begin to work from an office again, and I will only consider positions that are accessible by bike. By accessible, I mean distance and safety. There are often alternate routes to the ones people typically drive; it just takes some time to figure them out. And those alternate routes may be slightly longer in distance than the car routes. I always found that figuring out bike route options was a great way to learn the city.

05-03-2010, 08:47 AM
It's only a 2.5 mile bike ride, so I pretty much ride every time I go to work, but I only work part time (2 days a week). So I put several times a week.

No tips. My commute is short enough that it doesn't warrant any special gear or clothes, other than rain pants if it's really coming down.

05-03-2010, 11:37 AM
I've commuted a few times, but for the most part I have to drive. Part of my job is driving across town several times per day for various meetings. At some point, I want to leave my car at work and commute to home/work regularly,... this will hopefully start sooner than later- I have to be more confident and less lazy. Haha.

tharley, that's exactly what I do and for the same reason. Usually commute 2 or 3 days a week weather permitting which means April to October, more or less. I draw the line at riding in the snow AND cold!

05-03-2010, 12:29 PM
Rain, shine, wind. (we are in a storm advisory right now and I'm not looking forward to riding home in it. & worried about my 8 year old riding home in it as well) I only live 1 mile from work, but when it's nice I usually will make it 3-5 miles each way.

The thing I use is a buff to keep the wind out of my ears. I love this thing it has so many different uses for it. I can make it into a hat to cover my head and ears (yes I helmet) but I can also make it go over my head, ears, and nose too to keep the dirt out of my lungs.

05-03-2010, 02:29 PM
What is this work of which you speak?
Silly earthlings.

05-04-2010, 06:36 AM
I answered a few times per month, year round.

That's currently a big lie--it's what I used to do before my husband's new work schedule made commuting by bike impossible (me: work starts at 8:30, 13 mile commute; DH: work starts at 7 a.m. Last child's bus arrives at 8:35, so right now I put that child on the bus and tear hell-for-leather to work in my car and hope to arrive only a half hour late).

Yesterday he had a job interview for another night shift job, though, so if he gets that I can go back to commuting by bike. I'd still only be able to do a day or two a week at most (too many after-school/work activities--when I commute by bike, I get home too late for these) but that's better than nothing!

Tips on packing/cleaning:

Baby wipes and powder are my friends and are all I need for getting cleaned up for work even on hot summer days--I have access to a shower/fitness center at work but really don't use it (it's nice to know it's there, though).
One bottle cage holds water, the other holds coffee. I'm more likely to reach for the coffee at traffic lights.
I pack my stuff in two small panniers (designed as front panniers), ostensibly to balance the load, but really it doesn't need balancing--I'm just a little compulsive and like how the bike looks more balanced with two panniers instead of one larger one.
I always pack my bag the night before so I don't have to run around in the morning finding my stuff. Actually, I do that when I'm driving too, so I guess this doesn't count as a tip.
Find alternate routes. The one you drive might not be the one you bike, and I discovered last year (when they closed the road I normally ride on for construction and detoured everyone onto the freeway nearby) that having an alternate alternate route is good too! Now that alternate to the first alternate is my preferred route--the road I discovered is flatter, wider, and quieter!

I think the fact that I'm really wracking my brain, trying to come up with tips to share, tells me that this isn't that big of a deal. Getting over the mental block that kept me from starting to commute by bike was the hardest part. The actual commuting is just a nice morning (and evening) ride that is really the best part of my day!


05-04-2010, 06:42 AM
Um, I walk to work. I live close enough, one mile round trip, that the bike Stuff (helmet, locks, etc.) is just more work than walking.

When I had the job 2 miles away, I rode unless the roads had icy ruts in them or I needed the car after work for some reason. I would guess I rode pretty close to 90% of the time.

DH bike commutes, again, as long as the roads are clear - even on the day after he ran a marathon. He's pretty hard core that way.

05-07-2010, 09:36 AM
You need an option for "not as often as I should!" :o

My commute is 19-21 miles each way depending on route. I would do it more, regardless of weather...if I had more time. It's just so difficult to give 3 hours per day to commuting to work. It's hard enough to give up 1 hour per day (when I drive)! It's not a very good excuse, I know...so my true answer is 'not as often as I should'.

I miss the 1.5 mile commute that I had for the first 4 months we lived here...

05-07-2010, 09:41 AM
I figured out a couple years ago that i needed to keep riding to work even in the dead of winter because the longer i was away from it, the harder it was to get back on the bike.
In December and January, I averaged 1 commute a week, but now it's May and I bike commuted 4 times this week.

05-20-2010, 07:44 AM
I have been commuting a couple days a week during the spring / summer / falls days for the past 3 years now. After my husband was assured my life insurance was paid up and he was the main beneficiary, he became supportive of the endeavor. In fact, I have actually over heard him bragging about his wife commuting down to the Navy Yard in DC. Now, just to get him on the bike!!!

Before I started I did the following:

1) Reviewed every map and website I could find to determine SAFE routes. Many secondary streets that parallel main roads are actually designated bike routes and many have bike lanes painted on them.

2) Called a bike commuter friend I know and did a reconnaissance ride. Found 6 possible routes NOT on the main, congested roads. Must have crossed the bridges 8 times that afternoon checking out all the possibilities. Ruled out two as too dangerous, and a 3rd as good for August when Congress is out of session and traffic is really low. That leaves 2 great paths, one which goes right by the Washington Monument. Also, he taught me to watch for parked cars throwing doors open in your path when riding in the city. People really are not aware of their surroundings.

3) Found a shower … I sweat sweetie and my commute is 14 – 16 miles, one way. The first year I paid monthly fees to a private gym (a bit pricy), now I use the base gym (not nearly as pricy)

4) Pre-positioned clothes on the coat racks that are now empty as the snow is gone

5) Found a place to lock up my bike.

6) Pre-positioned the heavy U-lock onto the place I plan to lock my bike. I put a bright pink streak on my U-lock with nail polish for easy identification. I just leave it there for the season and only carry the key. Why carry the extra weight?

7) Packed a pull along bag with toiletries and placed them under my cubical desk (the walk to the Navy Gym is about 2 ½ blocks, on base, from my building and the first year of carrying a heavy shoulder bag got to be a drag)

8) Out fitted my bike with front and rear blinking lights for dawn / dusk riding. I already had a frame pump. When you lock up the bike for the day … TAKE EVERYTHING NOT PERMENANTLY ATTACHED WITH YOU. That includes the lights, computer, frame pump, water bottles, etc. Unless you don’t care that they may be gone when you get back

9) Printed out a Calendar with Sunrise / Sunset times to better plan commute times as I really am not up for night riding.

When I ride, I work out the logistics with my husband as to who will pick up our 4 year old, Erich, from day care. If I am, I load the tag along (previous years, it was a trailer) into our car. My husband leaves Erich’s ride at the school for that evening. Between Erich and the tag-along/trailer, I get an extra 50 – 60 pounds for the last 10 miles home. For Erich, I provide in-flight service (I pack drinks and gold fish ... who knew those things were a food group unto themselves), light plastic sandbox toys (when I had the trailer) and his helmet. I always stop at a playground on the way home, unless it is early Spring or late Fall and the lights are soon to go out. That way, Erich enjoys the ride and gets a little break.

I ALWAYS pack everything I need the night before so I can get up and go in the am. Earlier rides are better for avoiding traffic.

I do use a light weight, small messenger bag, to carry minimal items (reading glasses, money, biking necessities such as tire lever, extra tubes, small tool, travel size suntan lotion, Chap Stick, money holder, reading glasses, etc.). Remember, I don’t leave anything (like a seat bag) that can be stolen off of the bike. Also, I carry a small sample shower cap to put over my helmet in case it starts to rain.

BTW – I just buy my morning coffee and breakfast at a base food service counter.


I NEVER RIDE THE MAIN STREETS ANYMORE THAN NECESSARY. JUST TOO DANGEROUS. I only use them as a connector to another back road.

I KNOW HOW TO CHANGE A FLAT … IF YOU DON’T FIND OUT HOW. Because of city construction, I got to change over a dozen flats last summer



Hope this helps anyone considering commuting to work ...