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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    555

    What have you learned from commuting?

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    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

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    898
    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
    Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived." Captain Jean Luc Picard

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The boonies of New England
    Posts
    197
    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!"

    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?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,559
    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.
    Oil is good, grease is better.

    2007 Peter Mooney w/S&S couplers/Terry Butterfly
    1993 Bridgestone MB-3/Avocet O2 Air 40W
    1980 Columbus Frame with 1970 Campy parts
    1954 Raleigh 3-speed/Brooks B72

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Southwest Idaho
    Posts
    518
    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.
    Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.

    2010 Kelson custom/Brooks B17 Imperial
    2009 Masi/Terry Damselfly
    2004 Specialized Dulce Elite/Terry Damselfly
    2003 Gary Fisher Tassajara/unknown saddle
    1987 Bridgestone 100/Terry Liberator X

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    806
    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

    It's also become my preferred way to get around town. I just hope that motivation stays when the Chicago winter hits
    "Only the meek get pinched, the bold survive"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    14
    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.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    3,099
    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!
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: "Yeah Baby! What a Ride!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Posts
    529
    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!
    @LIGHTSABE*R(::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Beginner Triathlete Log

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    3,135
    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.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
    Posts
    10,576
    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!)
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Ontario
    Posts
    178
    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.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Shelbyville, KY
    Posts
    1,473
    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.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    930
    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.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    3,135
    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.

 

 

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