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SalsaMTB
08-09-2006, 06:12 AM
As I rode in to work today, I thought about how much the few commutes has changed my riding style.

Before commuting, I primarily rode on a road with a gigantic shoulder intended for biking on. My rides were typically straight out, straight back, so no turns. I was a little nervous about cars. The hills I would slowly spin up, taking my time, and blast down the downhill.

Now that I've commuted a few times, I feel much more confident on the road. I realize the importance of being aggressive at certain times. I'm now great at looking over my shoulder, signaling and taking the lane when the need is there. I won't get pushed into a gravel shoulder. I'm now comfortable taking a left turn and could care less when a car honks at me. On shorter uphills with tight lanes, I have learned to plow up with more speed than I ever imagined.

How about you girls?

Basically commuting has made much more confident and aggressive

annie
08-09-2006, 06:24 AM
I've learned that my bike is much more than just a form of recreation. It IS that, but it is also my preferred mode of travel around town, whether to work or elsewhere. Riding my bike can be useful, as well as fun. It is a liberating feeling not to have to depend on a car.

annie

Haudlady
08-09-2006, 06:44 AM
Good question... I totally agree that I have increased my confidence and "defensive driving" skills. Every day I ride, I feel more and more like I belong on the road. I'm willing to take more of the road (especially to avoid those drainage grates), and I am also improving at looking over my shoulder to see what's coming.

My mind has started translating my drives into rides... when I am driving, I find myself thinking "would need to shift gears here" or "wow - this downhill is great... I can almost feel the wind on my arms!" :D

I especially like the feeling that this is something great I can do... saves gas, less exhaust being sent out into the air, and really good for me both mentally and physically! What's not to like?

DebW
08-09-2006, 07:02 AM
I've learned to ride in more variable weather. If I want to commute in spring and fall, I'm frequently leaving home with temperature in the 30s. I need clothing that can be adjusted as I ride or arm/leg armers that can be removed in a quick stop. I've also learned to ride in the occassional rain shower. I used to not bike to work if there was a 30% chance of afternoon rain, but I'm learning to deal with that and bike more often.

Tater
08-09-2006, 07:10 AM
I would have to agree that commuting has boosted my confidence and aggressiveness on the road. I have found that if I ride like I belong out there, look like I belong there (helmet, bright jersey or jacket, lights, etc), signal when needed, and follow the rules of the road, vehicles tend to respect me and make proper allowances for the cyclist.

Commuting has also taught me to be self reliant. If I have mechanical problems or a flat and I am eleven miles from home, I am the one who has to figure out a way to fix it and get my rump home. Mr. Tater isn't always there to bail me out.

Through commuting, I have also come to enjoy riding in variable temperatures. Snowing and temps in the twenties or sunny and over one-hundred, if I dress properly for it, I can ride it.

betagirl
08-09-2006, 07:37 AM
It's taught me how to change a rear flat in less than 10 minutes. And almost how to do a track stand. Still working on that skill. I have to admit, I've picked up bad habits watching the bike messengers in the city and how they navigate through traffic and intersections. So I suppose it's taught me some bad habits also :rolleyes:

It's also become my preferred way to get around town. I just hope that motivation stays when the Chicago winter hits :)

laury
08-09-2006, 08:24 AM
Everything you ladies already said plus...

A sucky day at work can be cured by riding my bike home.

Be alert for parents trying desperately to drop their kids off at school and get to work on time. They don't care if they take you out in the process. Don't kids take the school bus anymore?

Riding in the dark can be a beautiful experience with the proper lights and reflective gear.

CorsairMac
08-09-2006, 12:29 PM
things learned from commuting:

most people making right hand turns don't use a turn signal but by watching their front tire - I can tell what they're going to do (and it's made me Very aware of rather or not I use a turn signal when I'm driving {I do} and I've also started chewing out my friends when they don't use their lol)...........

it's helped my driving friends to be more aware of bikers on the road now, coz one of those bikers could be their friend.......

that there isn't anywhere I Can't go on a bike and - so far - there isn't anyplace I can't take my bike into when I get there..........

probably the toughest: yes it's really cold out (20 degrees, 13 degrees, 0 degrees) but by the time I get the truck warmed up enough to drive, I could be halfway to work so just dress and bear it........the guys will have coffee for me when I get there!

light_sabe_r
08-09-2006, 02:10 PM
I've learned more about the road rules and it's made me a better driver

I've also learnt pedestrians don't know laws of the footpath!

Geonz
08-09-2006, 02:10 PM
I've learned a *lot* about reading little things about car position and driving patterns - so last night, for example, I saw that red sports car in the rear view mirror swing impatiently around a left-turning car as I was starting up the overpass he was going to have to pass me on momentarily. Hmm... *not* somebody who's going to wait behind me, probably regardless... so when he whipped by I was already moving right and that car coming over the hill didn't have to take evasive action...
The night before I was with a group and in hindsight, we *all* should have stopped at the stop sign. Yea, the car (who had full right of way and no stop) slowed and stopped to let the last of the group throuigh - but the telepathy was that "you guys cut it too close in front, so you are *all* probably idiots and I don't want it on my conscience." I've learned to think "am I by myself or with a group?" and decide differently, depending (yea, I wasn't the leader of this pack but I could have been the first to say "close enough, we're stopping." )
And yes, I've learned that counterintuitively assertive moves are not really "projecting an attitude" - hey, this is the prairie, where it's 'after you, kind sir' - but, rather, really riding where I'm supposed to be. This morning there was construction for half a mile and it was one skinny lane going my direction, and oh, well, there *is* a car in the mirror. I could have shimmied as close to the cones as I could have... but a construction site is awfully unpredictable (and Illinois has its own special lack of legal rights for bicyclists)... so I took the middle and pedalled my buns off. The driver simply slowed down - in fact, when I accelerated, she got further behind. Maybe she stuck the cruise control at 15. After the big fat 30 seconds or so, she simply went around, looking mildly inconvenienced - which tells me she wasn't even going for a good sportsmanship medal. A year ago I'd have probably tried to let her by and we both would have been unhappy - I could *never* have gone that fast hugging the cones, would have been horribly nervous, and she probably wouldn't have tried to go around anyway.

KnottedYet
08-09-2006, 07:35 PM
I've learned that people are surprisingly friendly if you say "Good Morning!" as you ride by while they're out walking.

At 4 way stops, sometimes oncoming cars think my left turn signal is me giving them the ok to make a right turn ahead of me. Now I look right at 'em (if they have a right blinky going and it really should be MY turn to go) point at my chest, then point to the left.

Then I wave and mouth "Thank you" as I go through. (even though it really was my turn anyway)

Cars pay MUCH more attention if there is a motorcycle cop riding along side you!!! (two-wheeled solidarity!)

run it, ride it
08-09-2006, 09:31 PM
I learned that cars along the highway are nothing to fear--but transport trucks will suck you off-balance in the best of times. Always keep an eye out for those monsters.

How do you girls deal with transports at highway speeds? Sometimes they can't move over and I lose control of my handlebars no matter how tight I'm holding on. It's not a matter of if but when I'm going to crash, and I sure hope it's not into one of those eighteen wheels.

I'll take the weather of commuting; bring on the rain, sleet, snow. I'll take on the traffic, the horns, the gestures, the cat-calls. But those trucks scare me.

makbike
08-10-2006, 03:10 AM
I've learned that leaving the house 15 minutes earlier makes a world of difference in the traffic patterns (fewer parents rushing to drop their kids off, fewer buses, etc).

Laury - I'm a teacher in my community and I'm simply amazed by the number of parents who drop their kids off in the morning and the number of parents who pick their kids up at the end of the day. I would think with gas prices parents would take advantage of free transportation supplied by the district.

Kimmyt
08-10-2006, 05:55 AM
I've learned that a motorcyclists can be a bike commuter's best friend. They actually SEE you.

p.s. thanks to the guy who let me turn left across a busy road in front of him, you rock motorcycle dude!

K.

Geonz
08-10-2006, 06:53 AM
I have one half-mile stretch where I deal with 18=wheelers coming off the interstate, but they aren't going fast. The simple physics of that combination ... I'd find a way to avoid it if I could, and ... how heavy is your bike? My old cruiser feels much more secure in turbulent conditions, as does the Xtracycle.

tulip
08-10-2006, 07:38 AM
Being assertive is not only a confidence booster, but a survival tactic at times. Y'all have covered all the bases for me. I'm glad that I have good bike handling skills from mountain biking, and they've gotten better from riding in traffic.

I haven't commuted on my bike since Tuesday due to after work commitments, but this afternoon, I'm riding my Coda home! Tomorrow I think I'll drive the Luna to work for a change.

mimitabby
08-10-2006, 07:43 AM
transport trucks will suck you off-balance in the best of times. Always keep an eye out for those monsters.

How do you girls deal with transports at highway speeds? Sometimes they can't move over and I lose control of my handlebars no matter how tight I'm holding on. It's not a matter of if but when I'm going to crash, and I sure hope it's not into one of those eighteen wheels.

I'll take the weather of commuting; bring on the rain, sleet, snow. I'll take on the traffic, the horns, the gestures, the cat-calls. But those trucks scare me.

Uh, Run it; slow down when you hear them coming. That does sound terrifying.
I can't imagine being THAT close to large speeding vehicles. It's bad enough at low speed.

run it, ride it
08-10-2006, 06:40 PM
Actually, today I tried speeding up when they came past, and it made a world of difference. The more momentum I have, the less they shake me. On the way home I had a nasty headwind and heard one SCREAMING up behind me--I bailed onto the gravel out of instinct and nearly wiped out.

I used to take my old metal clunker to work and had no trouble with the big trucks--but couldn't make it up the big hills. New bike is super light, and I'm not that heavy either. Good for hills, bad for trucks.

Unfortunately there is no alternate route to work and the highway I take is a major travel route for transports traveling between 80-110km/h (50-70mph) with barely 6" of pavement past the white line in some places (we don't have paved shoulders in Ontario. It's just gravel).

Sounds pretty dangerous when it's all in writing. But I still feel WAY safer out on the highway than I do riding in a city.

Geonz
08-11-2006, 06:47 AM
So, obviously you need a few jars of coins to get a middle weight :-)

THe known, one-at-a-time hazards are a lot less stressful than the constant barrage in the city. College towns are so nice!

conster
08-11-2006, 12:07 PM
If I were to commute to my job it would be a 40 mile round trip. Not such a long ride, but after 20 miles of a morning ride...what do you do about needing a shower? Changing clothes? I haven't seen this question posed and am really curious. Do your workplaces have shower facilities and how would you pack a change of clothing? Enlighten me please? :confused:

CorsairMac
08-11-2006, 12:20 PM
If I were to commute to my job it would be a 40 mile round trip. Not such a long ride, but after 20 miles of a morning ride...what do you do about needing a shower? Changing clothes? I haven't seen this question posed and am really curious. Do your workplaces have shower facilities and how would you pack a change of clothing? Enlighten me please? :confused:


this might help:

http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=7780&highlight=commuting

tulip
08-11-2006, 12:38 PM
If I were to commute to my job it would be a 40 mile round trip. Not such a long ride, but after 20 miles of a morning ride...what do you do about needing a shower? Changing clothes? I haven't seen this question posed and am really curious. Do your workplaces have shower facilities and how would you pack a change of clothing? Enlighten me please? :confused:

My office provides a commuter shower with a clothing rack to hang clothes. They also have an indoor bike rack in the lobby. It's wonderful. My commute is 14 miles each way, and it would be difficult to do it without a shower at work and a place to keep my clothes.

Many offices actually do have dormant showers, so it might be worth asking. Some health clubs have reduced memberships that allow shower use. Baby wipes also come in handy for cleanup, just get the unscented, otherwise you'll smell like a baby all day (which is fine for some, but in my line of work might be distracting)

conster
08-11-2006, 12:57 PM
this might help:

http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=7780&highlight=commuting

I DO thank you for the teamestrogen site. It had lots of great ideas and I may have the opportunity to put them to use. Thanks for taking the time to post a reply for me. :)

withm
08-11-2006, 08:12 PM
. Baby wipes also come in handy for cleanup, just get the unscented, otherwise you'll smell like a baby all day (which is fine for some, but in my line of work might be distracting)

I have not found any unscented babywipes... What brand do you get? I can't stand any perfume in stuff like that.

tulip
08-13-2006, 08:38 AM
I have not found any unscented babywipes... What brand do you get? I can't stand any perfume in stuff like that.

I don't--I have a shower at work. But I've heard of them, so I assumed they were out there. Seventh Generation probably has some for a price, but I don't know about the other brands.

donnambr
08-13-2006, 05:06 PM
Huggies sell unscented baby wipes that you can get in many mainstream stores. The Rite-Aid near my office has them, so they can't be that obscure. They have aloe in them, so you might be bummed if you don't like that.