Beating the system - the cycling commuting section
7 posts • Page 1 of 1
Well I have just completed a full year of full time commuting to work by bike and it may be of interest to anyone thinking of doing the same.
A year ago I decided to sell our second car as it no longer suited our needs and while trying to decide on what it's replacement would be, I considered whether I really needed the second car anyway? A few quick calculations showed that it was costing me several thousands of dollars each year to keep it and a newer replacement car probably would cost me even more.
For the last 3 years I had been commuting by bike for about 7 or 8 months of the year and only driving to work during the winter and early spring until the majority of the rain stopped. So I thought to myself that if I could just get through the wet cold part of the year of the remaining 4 months then I wouldn't bother buying a new second car.
What I have found is that it was much easier than I had expected. Out of the entire year I only drove our primary car twice. Once because I needed to take something large to work and the second time to drop the car off for a service close to my work.
My commute starts early in the morning, needing to leave at around 5:15am and over the course of the year I had to ride through several storms with high winds around 100km/hr and pouring rain. The unusual thing is that I only ever got absolutely soaked by rain 2 or 3 times. It is surprising that even on rainy days, its not actually raining when I am riding. Light to medium rain I found is not much of a problem and can even be enjoyable. The thing I disliked the most was the wind. Most of the time I am riding into the wind and on my commute can add and extra 10 minutes travel time onto a usual 30 minute commute. As for the cold, it's just a matter of wearing the right clothing and usually when its really cold there is not wind.
What do I wear ?
What I have found works for myself in the colder weather below about 12 degrees is:
full fingered gloves, long thermal polypropylene pants or cycling leg warmers, MTB shorts, long sleeve thermal top under a high vis long sleeve cycling jersey, reflective hi vis vest, MTB spd shoes. The only time I wear a cycling rain jacket is if the rain is medium to heavy as I find that it gets too warm wearing it otherwise. When my shoes were soaked a couple of times I would stuff them with hand towels or toilet paper and by the time for the ride home they would be dry. In my two small panniers, I usually carry work clothes, lunch, and if it might rain , a rain jacket. The panniers have a water resistant cover and for the most part it keeps everything dry.
What do I ride ?
I started with my Giant ATX 840 MTB and it slowly evolved into a commuter bike. Changes made included adding slick tyres (cheap ones then more expensive puncture resistant ones) swapped fork for a rigid one, added airzound air horn, mirror, rear rack, brighter lights, mudguards. The set up was okay, however I felt I needed a bike with a more comfortable riding position.After a lot of research I decided to build this
It started off with a flat bar with bar ends but I have now fitted Nitto Noodle drop bars and fitted bar end shifters. So much better for riding into the wind. This would have to be my most comfortable bike I have owned. It seems slow however my times are the same or slightly faster compared to my prevous Giant bike. I like the more relaxed ride and the not so twitchy steering that I had on the Giant.
So for anyone thinking of doing full time commuting, remember you can ride in any weather just wear the right clothing for the conditions.
Set your bike up properly. My essentials include good quality puncture resistant tyres, good bright lights, mudguards, an airzound (it's saved me a few times) and a mirror. Set your bike up so that it has a comfortable fit.
so what sort of k's did you end up doing for the year???
It is amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it...I think you get a little bit of perverse pleasure when riding in the middle of winter...I know the thoughts of "your an idiot for riding today" are then followed up with "wouldnt have it any other way"...well with me anyways
due to our location and circumstances, we need the second car..but it has sat in the driveway majority of the year
That's right. You know what gave me even more pleasure? When a fellow cyclist on the road told me I was crazy riding in normal bibs in the middle of winter I had thermal on my upperbody but he couldn't get his mind round my legs were all exposed! Told him I'd worked too hard getting them to avoid showing them off!!!
I enjoy my commute, and even find it not long enough at 6.6km. I have geared up for all weather riding, but haven't bothered with the mudguards much. I have a plastic quick fit rear one but haven't used it this year. I've only been riding 3 days for most of the year as I need to drop the kids off for school, that could change next year, we are probably going to be putting them on the bus. I was also quite sick for over a month and really missed riding while getting back to health.
I also rode home during the worst weather I've encountered on 29th Oct. Driving rain, 60km/h headwinds for the most part (small amount of tail wind), cold for this time of year so I didn't have much other than the rain jacket. I did get a kick out of the challenge and a big smile when spotting another regular coming the other way. Strangely there was no one else out that day. All huddled up in their smoke boxes I guess.
Now I've got several bikes to choose from I can enjoy the ride for other reasons. Long way MTB expeditions, fixie fun, or geared roadie efficiency depending on my mood (and time limit)
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.
Neoprene booties are good for keeping your shoes dry if the commute's not long. Water can still come in along your legs.
Not an issue if wearing overpants as I do in continuous rain, but you prefer just knicks!
Well done - the point y ou make taht gets my attention was the (lack of) need for a second car.
In 1980 my wife and I dropped the second car, only moving back to one decades later when we had kids. Now the kids have their own cars and parental duties are greatly reduced. So we are again down to one car.
A great bonus it is the ease with which my wife and I can come together from different directions after work or at night school or whatever and then go home together. A lot less fussy than having separate vehicles.
While I can't see total lack of a car is going to be practical for most in Perth, a bike (or unicycle ) and a car has proven to be remarkably functional over the years. And the savings must have had a significant effect on my finacial wellbeing as I approach retirement.
There are many keen cyclists who hang onto a second car and never really appreciate how little they may miss it.
Unchain yourself - Ride a unicycle .
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