Thinking of commuting by bike

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Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:10 pm

Hey guys

I'm completely fed up with the morning traffic crawl and I am having trouble finding time and a cheap way of getting exercise! So I'm considering riding a bike to work..

I was wondering if you guys think its a good idea? I live in St Kilda in Melbourne and I want to ride to Burwood. Google maps tells me its about 13 - 14km and the road is mostly flat except for some not so steep hills at one end.

I'm not completely unfit but I havent done much except some jogging in the past few weeks..

I do have a bike already that I can fix up :) Was thinking some start up gear would be some knicks (is that what they're called?), a helmet (of course) and maybe a splash jacket cause its been so wet lately.. I don't have much money at the moment so I will have to buy the rest as I can :)

Do you guys think the distance is too much? Should I train up before I attempt? At the moment my "half hour drive" can turn into 50 minutes, depending on traffic.. AUGH! Its so frustrating to spend 20 minutes just stuck trying to get out of my street! (Punt Road/Fitzroy St intersection.. OMGosh)

Possibly if the distance is too much I could start out riding up to a street that has a tram going across, to cut the distance a bit? Can you even take a bike on a tram?

(--Edit-- I don't really have much to carry on me either, just lunch really and clothes!)
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:24 pm

Kowai wrote:Hey guys

I'm not completely unfit but I havent done much except some jogging in the past few weeks..

I do have a bike already that I can fix up :) Was thinking some start up gear would be some knicks (is that what they're called?), a helmet (of course) and maybe a splash jacket cause its been so wet lately.. I don't have much money at the moment so I will have to buy the rest as I can :)

Do you guys think the distance is too much? Should I train up before I attempt? At the moment my "half hour drive" can turn into 50 minutes, depending on traffic.. AUGH! Its so frustrating to spend 20 minutes just stuck trying to get out of my street! (Punt Road/Fitzroy St intersection.. OMGosh)

I'm not from Melbourne, so I can't comment on the route, but I don't think 14 km is too much for some with even modest fitness.

But if you're unsure, try riding it in a quiet Sunday morning to familiarise yourself with the route and build your confidence.

Don't rush out buying a new bike or lots of new stuff until you're sure you can stick with it - and you've learned a bit more about what might work and what doesn't.

For wet weather, you might need something a bit more than a splash jacket. Anaconda have a Transitions jacket on special this week end for $99 down from $169 which I think has breathable fabric and might be worth a look if it's in your budget range.

Knicks and gloves are worthwhile too - but you might have to prioritise your purchases if your budget is limited.

And welcome to the forum. I like where your head is at. :D
Last edited by wombatK on Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby mylesau » Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:24 pm

Hi Kowai,

Welcome to the forum :D

I say, just do it - I don't know the area but the distance should be doable. If you feel it's a bit tough to start, just ride every other day, until your fitness improves.

Promise yourself you'll stick with it for 2 months - once you've done it for that long you won't look back.

Ride the route on the weekend at a quiet traffic time to gain some confidence and to work out the best places to wait at intersections etc.

Go for it!
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby casual_cyclist » Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:34 pm

I was a complete couch potato when I started cycle commuting a few months ago (9km each way). I really did not exercise at all and would get out of breath walking up a couple of flights of stairs.

I didn't find 9kms too far at all, but for you would reccomend a ride on the weekend to figure out how you go. After only 2 months, I am doing regular 70km to 100km rides every weekend because my weekday riding is not enough. When I have time I take the long way home (40+km).

By the way, I save a minimum of 40 mins per day cycling rather than catching the bus. I have a 20 year old bike that I commute on and it really has not cost much to get set up (I bought a $30 sport jacket from K-Mart for rainy days).

I don't think it will be too far for you, but if it is, you can just ride say Mon, Wed and Fri until you build up your fitness.

Commuting is the best part of my day now, so go for it!
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:45 pm

G'Day Kowai, welcome outside :)

+1 for a weekend practice run, chances are you'll discover the best route isn't the most direct, all part of the fun.

Get the tools and spares needed to fix a flat tyre and you're good to go. 14kms is no doddle first up, but no killer either.

Cheers
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kalgrm » Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:04 pm

Mulger bill wrote:G'Day Kowai, welcome outside :)

+1 for a weekend practice run, chances are you'll discover the best route isn't the most direct, all part of the fun.

Get the tools and spares needed to fix a flat tyre and you're good to go. 14kms is no doddle first up, but no killer either.

Cheers
Shaun

+1 from me - welcome and carry spares.

Definitely do it up front on the weekend. I think you might get a bit of a shock with what you term "not so steep hills". They have a way of sneaking up on people who are used to putting the foot on the accelerator to climb them. The good news is that over the space of a couple of weeks, those hill flatten out a bit.

You're also going to feel some pain in your rear where the saddle makes contact with your posterior. That's normal and will also subside with a small amount of time. DON'T go out and buy a "more comfortable" saddle - it won't help. You need to let your body adapt before you consider doing that.

I personally think the spalsh jacket is better than a full-on rain coat. You really can't prevent getting wet on a bike, but you can make it less arduous with a spray jacket.

You can't take bikes on trams.

Cheers,
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:49 am

Hey guys thanks for the replies :)

I will definately go out this weekend for a practice run, assuming my boyfriend gets his bike fixed up for me this week :) He said it just needs new tyres or something like that.. Otherwise I will try and borrow a bike in the mean time :)

The hills that are closer to my work don't seem too steep but are long.. So I'm hoping they wont be too difficult to get over to start with. Most of the ride like I said is pretty flat :) Unfortunately it is a high traffic area but I'm confident I'll be okay.

I wouldn't be surprised though if the first few rides I had to get off and walk those hills! :lol: I have no idea of my fitness level when it comes to riding yet..

Maybe to start with I'll just get my helmet, and maybe some of those padded undies so I can just wear some gym pants over the top? Atleast until I -know- I'm going to stick with this! Would hate to fork out heaps of money and then just quit.. What a great time to start - winter! Yay! Nice and cold :lol: Hoping I can stay motivated in the early stages :)
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Thu Apr 30, 2009 1:27 pm

Kowai wrote:Maybe to start with I'll just get my helmet, and maybe some of those padded undies so I can just wear some gym pants over the top? Atleast until I -know- I'm going to stick with this! Would hate to fork out heaps of money and then just quit.. What a great time to start - winter! Yay! Nice and cold :lol: Hoping I can stay motivated in the early stages :)

For starters, the gym pants will probably be comfortable enough. If they're lycra, they should be good for riding in light showers too - they'll dry out so fast. Getting a seat that's good support for your butt (search for the references here to sit-bones) might be worth looking at before padded knicks - a bike borrowed from a guy might have a much narrower seat than a girl needs.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby suzieQ » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:06 pm

Hello and good luck!

I do 10km each way and I do it in lycra (no padding but a padded seat) its fine although the first couple of times I was bruised in odd places :oops:

first few times I rode I had to get off and walk a bit of the hills then back to riding, don't worry you'll get over that pretty quickly and be cycling the whole way in no time. There's heaps of people of all levels commuting, everyone has to start somewhere!!

Just allow yourself plenty of time the first few rides so you don't feel stressed on your way and so you have time to cool down before you start work.

Now that I ride I can't stand public transport its so damn sloooooow, and driving is stressful, cycling is definitely the best way to go :mrgreen:
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby mikedufty » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:58 pm

I reckon 10 to 15km is an ideal commuting distance for me.
Have a good look at some maps before you go to try and find the best route, the best way in a car is probably not the best way on a bike, it can be worth going out of your way a bit too make it a pleasant ride. I think the worst thing on a bike is multilane roads with a narrow kerbside lane. Wide quiet roads are best. Sometimes you can find good ones that are quiet because only a bike can get through somewhere along the way. Maybe try some options on your weekend test run.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Broaders » Fri May 01, 2009 11:27 am

Hi Kowai,

I only started commuting a few weeks ago and now couldn't imagine not doing it! Now I get all keyed up and twitchy if i don't get out for a ride for a couple of days!

14ks sounds ideal, especially if it's flat. You'll knock it over pretty quickly and after a couple of weeks maybe even look for ways to extend it.

Good luck and welcome!
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby hartleymartin » Fri May 01, 2009 3:41 pm

I hope that you have facilities to shower and change at work, as well as a good, secure place to lock up your bicycle.

Depending on what your local weather and road conditions are like, consider a set of mudguards and a rear rack with a bag to carry some tools and any stuff you need to take to and from work. For the time being, you can probably get away with a small back pack, but I found that they tend to make your ride harder, and sweatier. One thing I would most definitely recommend would be road tyres if you ride an MTB. I'm not a fan of drop-bar road bicycles, as I find their handling a little jittery for my liking, but plenty of people ride them quite happily. Their narrower wheels might also be something of a hazard with tramway tracks.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Sat May 02, 2009 8:49 am

Actually no.. My workplace doesn't have any showers but luckily there is a sink I can wash my face at, and I work as an animator so I don't have to look too flash! :lol: (I don't deal with clients at all just sit infront of a computer all day)

There is a stairwell inside that I've noticed someone else at work leaves their bike under so I'm pretty sure I can leave mine there too. Its safe there unless someone at work decides to steal it as theres a big door that you need a security pin for ;)

I would love to eventually get panniers and all that for my bike.. Actually just my own bike really! To start with though I don't want to fork out alot of money as I'm not sure if I'll stick with this or not. Bikes are so expensive too augh.. I'm going to go check out my boyfriend's bike today and take it to get any repairs needed :) I'll probably do a test ride this afternoon if I can! Its normally a busy road but should be alright on a Saturday afternoon I bet :) Also the weather is looking pretty nice today!

Will let you guys know how I go... I just need to get out there and do it - it just seems so daunting at the moment!
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby hartleymartin » Sat May 02, 2009 10:41 am

I've PM'ed you about it.

But your occupation does beg the question - if you are an animator who works on a computer all day, why do you need to commute at all? Can't your work be done from home via an internet connection? You boss would save money on floor space, and you would save time and money from commuting. Just set aside a room in your home which becomes "the office" and discipline yourself to only do work-related stuff in there.

Perhaps though, (like myself) you might be the sort of person who has to travel somewhere to get into a "work" frame of mind.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Sat May 02, 2009 1:08 pm

Generally thats just how its done.. I'm not a freelancer, I work in a studio under the supervision of the Creative Director. I -could- do my work at home but our boss wants us there all together. I'd love to be able to work from home though!

I went out and got my helmet and some new inner tubes for the bike... I checked it out, seems like a good bike but - I couldn't get the tyre rims off to change the tyres :( Every guide I find just says "use the quick release" or doesn't tell me how to remove them at all.. As far as I can see there is no quick release. Just two nuts on either side of the tyre which I can remove but then I can't get the tyre rim off at all? Hard to describe sorry guys. My boyfriend says he'll come home tonight and help me with it and go riding with me but I really wanted to go earlier. Ohwell
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby casual_cyclist » Sat May 02, 2009 1:53 pm

Kowai wrote:Bikes are so expensive too augh.

You can get some pretty decent bikes second hand. My last one cost $180 and is great! If you don't know much about bikes though, you should take someone who does.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Sat May 02, 2009 3:03 pm

Kowai wrote:Generally thats just how its done.. I'm not a freelancer, I work in a studio under the supervision of the Creative Director. I -could- do my work at home but our boss wants us there all together. I'd love to be able to work from home though!

I went out and got my helmet and some new inner tubes for the bike... I checked it out, seems like a good bike but - I couldn't get the tyre rims off to change the tyres :( Every guide I find just says "use the quick release" or doesn't tell me how to remove them at all.. As far as I can see there is no quick release. Just two nuts on either side of the tyre which I can remove but then I can't get the tyre rim off at all? Hard to describe sorry guys. My boyfriend says he'll come home tonight and help me with it and go riding with me but I really wanted to go earlier. Ohwell

Love your independence. Youtube is your substitute boyfriend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPYV3qFuXOI (it covers bikes with and without quick release).

Another good site for video demos of bicycle fixing is http://bicycletutor.com/fix-flat-tire/ (although it doesn't cover your type of wheels in the wheel removal video).

Good luck with it...
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby hartleymartin » Sat May 02, 2009 4:14 pm

Kowai wrote:Generally thats just how its done.. I'm not a freelancer, I work in a studio under the supervision of the Creative Director. I -could- do my work at home but our boss wants us there all together. I'd love to be able to work from home though!

I went out and got my helmet and some new inner tubes for the bike... I checked it out, seems like a good bike but - I couldn't get the tyre rims off to change the tyres :( Every guide I find just says "use the quick release" or doesn't tell me how to remove them at all.. As far as I can see there is no quick release. Just two nuts on either side of the tyre which I can remove but then I can't get the tyre rim off at all? Hard to describe sorry guys. My boyfriend says he'll come home tonight and help me with it and go riding with me but I really wanted to go earlier. Ohwell


If commuting, perhaps a quick release isn't such a good idea. I paid the LBS to remove mine and fit standard axles and nuts and bolts every-where. Find out what size spanners you will need. Chances are that on your axles its either a 14mm or 15mm (in rare cases a 17mm) In my tool kit I have a 15mm ring spanner which takes care of both my front and rear wheels, and I carry two (not one, but two!) spare inner tubes, although the kevlar belted tyres have done pretty good so far in resisting punctures.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Sun May 03, 2009 9:12 pm

Well my boyfriend came home and showed me how to remove the tyres as well as inflate them :) Problem is I bought the wrong tubes!! It's a mountain bike not a road bike.... Lol

I got the right tubes today as well as a new pump cause the one we had was broken.. Luckily this pump attaches to the bike! Sweet! I won't forget to bring that!

I had a -short- ride today and glad I did because the back wheel slipped on me and dislodged.. Got the good old boyfriend to help me fix it (stupid me didn't notice the wheel wasn't moving cause it was pressing up against the bike frame - I thought it was a gear/chain thing..)

My practice run will be the real deal tomorrow! Agh! I'm going to give myself an hour or more to get there I think... I'm going to be wrecked :( Very nervous I won't make it! Told my boyfriend I'll call him if I break down though LOL
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Sun May 03, 2009 10:55 pm

Kowai wrote:I had a -short- ride today and glad I did because the back wheel slipped on me and dislodged.. Got the good old boyfriend to help me fix it (stupid me didn't notice the wheel wasn't moving cause it was pressing up against the bike frame - I thought it was a gear/chain thing..)

My practice run will be the real deal tomorrow! Agh! I'm going to give myself an hour or more to get there I think... I'm going to be wrecked :( Very nervous I won't make it! Told my boyfriend I'll call him if I break down though LOL

I think you'll find it easier than you think. As an insurance plan, you could take a bicycle lock and convert to public transport somewhere along the way if you do get overwhelmed. But don't leave the pump, lights or anything else of value on the bike if you're leaving it locked up out of your sight for more than 10 minutes.

Don't be too hard on yourself about the dislodged wheel. It takes practice to know how tight the nuts on the wheels have to be tightened, and you'll learn from this. Same goes for not noticing reasons for the stuck wheel and not knowing about different types of tubes - doesn't make you stupid, just means you've not had an opportunity to learn it.

Good luck tomorrow.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby mylesau » Sun May 03, 2009 11:07 pm

Good luck with it Kowai,

Always good to have a backup support team ready on the sideline :lol:
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Mon May 04, 2009 9:35 am

Well I got to work 25 minutes late and I was, very completely, f*cked!

"Gradual, easy slopes" are HORRIBLE when you're unfit and not used to riding!

My butt is so sore and when I walked down some stairs before my legs wanted to buckle!

The flat stretches were alright... But those hills! OMGosh those hills!! I managed to ride up them all but towards the end I had to keep stopping for rests!

I think getting home will be MUCH easier than getting to work.. I gave myself 50 minutes to get to work and it took me 1 hr 20 mins? I -was- going to give myself an hour but I got delayed.. Ahhh

I have much more respect for cyclists now is all I can say!! Had so many guys in full gear just fly past me as I slogged my way along... :oops:

I hope I can make it home.. Will most likely try again Wednesday and give myself MUCH longer to get to work on time!
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon May 04, 2009 9:51 am

Kowai wrote:Had so many guys in full gear just fly past me as I slogged my way along...

Well done on making it and don't worry about getting passed. I have been riding for nearly three months and still get passed every day... by guys in full gear, guys on mountain bikes in shorts and t-shirts and just about everyone else too! I figure it's not a race, I am doing it for my own fitness. Oh, and it does get easier too. Have you had someone show you how to use your gears properly? My mistake when I first stared was trying to get up the hills in the wrong gear. It took me a couple of weeks to work out what I was doing wrong and once sorted it got easier.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby mylesau » Mon May 04, 2009 10:14 am

Stick with it Kowai - 2 months of good days and bad days and you'll look back and wonder what you were fussin' about.

There will always be someone much faster than you, just give a wave or a nod and dream - one day, one day, maybe, nah, it's free, sustainable travel, who cares about speed...
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Mon May 04, 2009 10:19 am

I'm having a bit of trouble with the gears still.. They work a little differently to my old bike (which I had when I was a kid). I know how to make it "easier" to get up the hills but I just found my legs were way too tired. Either to stand up and power up the hill, or to sit down and peddle doggedly away on a lighter gear.
It really seems at the moment the biggest thing holding me back is strength/fitness!
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