Commuting by bike – give me the cold, hard truth

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  • Commuting by bike – give me the cold, hard truth
  • Mary Hinge
    Member

    Hmmmm…..doing 20 miles a day everyday might make me go off riding bikes for fun…..but would make me a very fit cyclist.

    Doing it once or twice a week is lots of fun and is helping make me a stronger rider at the weekends, when it matters 😉

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    Chertsey isn’t London, it’s barely inside the M25!

    It’ll depend on all sorts of factors, 10 miles is extremely doable, 20 is alright if you’re fit, and if not you will be.

    Facilities at work will probably dictate how pleasant it is – secure storage for your bike and nice showers are a lot better than a baby wipe shower and wondering if your bike’s been nicked every day!

    FWIW depending which office I’m in mine’s anything between 10 and 45 miles each way. I think about 15-20 is perfect. YMMV.

    AntLockyer
    Member

    I commuted into London from Kent about 15 miles each way. By Thursday is the weather wasn’t great I’d had enough of it. I started finding excuses not to ride, my bike was getting hammered and I had a couple of offs.

    apart from that it was awesome 🙂

    jambon
    Member

    From Herne hill to Shepherds Bush – Outer zone 2 to diagonally opposed zone 2 was fine for 10 years on a singlespeed MTB with slicks.

    The nobends trying actively to kill me were more difficult.

    It takes about 2 years to get your ‘radar’ sorted.

    Medics call London cyslists ‘Organ Donors’ for a reason.

    20 miles one way sounds like a real PITA though.

    fontmoss
    Member

    Chertsey isn’t London, it’s barely inside the M25!

    Alright don’t rub it in!

    Second year in Epsom/St Helier so perhaps Twickenham or Surbiton for a year then onto Tooting for the next year.

    Premier Icon stimpy
    Subscriber

    My cycle commute is 12 miles each way and (if I’m honest) I’d like it if it were a little longer. 15-20 miles each way would be ideal for me.

    Agree on the two-years or so to get ‘commuter traffic radar’ sorted. Regularly riding in the vicinity of commuters in cars and school-runs kamikazes take some getting used to.

    Good lights, secure bike storage at work, decent washing facilities and somewhere to dry your cycling gear will make or break it as an experience for you, I reckon.

    Bernaard
    Member

    I commute 10 miles each way 4 days a week
    I prefer the morning commute and do it on the singlespeed
    I use the mtb to allow extra miles via the woods to eliviate the boredom
    And after 8 years of commuting it is starting to become tiresome

    If you can vary your route it helps a lot

    brakes
    Member

    Medics call London cyslists ‘Organ Donors’ for a reason.

    do they really though?

    remember that you can always extend your commute if you want to, it’s hard to make it shorter.
    [7 years of commuting 14 to 20 miles a day in London and not tired of it yet]

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    I have done 10 miles each way (20 a day) into london for several years, 5 days a week rain or shine on a rigid steel kona, 1×9 is perfect imho, discs are nice as the constant traffic lights are a pita
    and leave a massive motorbike lock at work

    its not too much of a problem, just as fast as public transport- including shower time at work, but never delayed (with schwable marathon + tyres)

    i got fitter, but im no lance and im still podgy!
    Did feel a bit tired of cycling at weekends and would have to have a day or 2 off beforehand if i was doing a weekends biking or a race or my legs would feel it

    but other than that its fine and even factoring in bike wear and tear and a decent set of waterproofs + 5 pairs of short liners youll save thousands a year in travel costs

    Around a 36 mile daily commute here. Usually 3 sometimes 4 days a week. You’ve got the right bikes, something that rolls fast to get you from A to B. Its great in the summer but you need to be hardy when the cold weather kicks in. If your heart is not in it, you’ll give in. I sold my car and forced my hand (and for the most part) enjoying the benefits. I have good days, and bad. I have days off, the body needs to recover. I say go for it!

    TheBrick
    Member

    Is that 20 miles each way or round trip? That far in start stop urban traffic will be very tiring. I Did 17 each way for a short time and found it a bit tough after a long day at work, even though I had already been doing 11 – 13 each way for a year. 10 each way is no bother once you’re accustomed to it.

    Medics call London cyslists ‘Organ Donors’ for a reason.

    Mainly because its reuse of a saying about motorcyclists even though the serious accidents a rare. Agree that it takes some time to properly beable to read other road users from and when best to take the lane and when best ease off e.t.c.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    I know a very keen cyclist whos also a paramedic, she just calls em cyclists

    fontmoss
    Member

    It’s looking like twickenham or surbiton at the moment and heading out of town towards Chertsey, so not into proper London. So about 12 miles one way….

    Premier Icon PMK2060
    Subscriber

    I commute 4 or 5 days a week 10 miles each way. I have about 10 different routes now including off road to stop me getting bored. Family commitments mean i rarely get out on the bike at weekends so i usually extend my route 1-2 days a week.

    will
    Member

    Commuting by bike is brilliant. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do another job where I can’t ride to the office 😆

    20 miles each way is perfectly doable, and will probably take around 1:20ish. But if you’re not used to that distance everyday then might be worth starting off 2/3 days a week. You might have a few days when you don’t enjoy it but even the worse day on the bike is better than getting a train.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    St Peters? I’d be delighted to have this on my commute: http://goo.gl/maps/qH7ak

    fontmoss
    Member

    Ned, you have no idea how much that has cheered me up 😀 ta!

    2bit
    Member

    I did 4 years commuting in London, nearly 3 of those doing Shepherds Bush to Bermondsey daily which is just over 9 miles (& an awesome sight seeing route). 1×9 29er with Schwalbe Marathons & no shower facilities in work. Also had to then travel from Bermondsey to various places around the city for meetings & events so some days I’d be doing c30+ miles.

    No accidents. No flats. Fair few near misses & loads of nobheads (pedestrians, cyclists & drivers) but all preferable to a soul destroying (& expensive) commute a l’underground.

    Do it! You’ll get used to London & its cycle commutery ways

    mrmo
    Member

    my current commute is 16miles each way and i am doing this on average 4 days a week, i used to do 12miles 5 days a week.

    I am doing a rural commute so few lights to worry about, just fast moving traffic. It can get to you and it can get depressing in the middle of winter when the rain is in your face and you have 16miles into a headwind to deal with. But those days when the sun is out you understand, it makes the crap worth while.

    If your going to do it, look at facilities, you don’t want to carry anymore than you have to, can you ditch kit at work, have a shower etc etc. get a bike with fast tyres, get decent lights, if i was specing a commuter today i would be looking at the new dynamo hubs and lights for fit and forget ( there are few things worse than finding out your battery is flat and you have an hour to ride in the dark)

    kcr
    Member

    I’ve been commuting by bike for about 20 years in different jobs, anything from 2 to 12 miles each way. Go by time, rather than distance;an urban route with lots of traffic lights and crossings could take more time than a longer run on rural roads. I think about 40 minutes each way is a good journey time; long enough to get some useful exercise, but not taking up too much of your day.
    If you want to make it a regular habit, beware of making your journey too demanding and time consuming. Remember that you will be doing it through the dark and cold of winter.
    Whatever bike you are using, I would say mudguards, rack and panniers are the important bits. If you have lockers and showers at your workplace that’s great.
    Commuting by bike is a great way to start the day, and a great way of building exercise into your day for free. I would hate to be stuck in a car every day. Enjoy yourself!

    hh45
    Member

    I think over ten miles e/w is a lot and must risk a) getting bored, b) getting run down (esp in poor weather or cold) and c) turning you into a diesel engine.

    My commute used to be 5 miles at its most direct and I tended to extend to 6-7 miles as I enjoyed it and to work on fitness. But if in a rush / late or raining then keep it short. Now its 3.6 miles that is too short for ideal but most days I manage to extend to 5-6 miles. A short, very intense interval type ride can do as much for your fitness as a much longer slower, steadier ride and is probably more fun, (Strava and commuter races etc)

    I do a 21 mile round trip. Theres a few hills which get tough when i’m tired (even though its a gentle gradient!).

    40 mile round trip is quite far 5 days a week for *most* people. Takes a lot of time out the day too.

    5 days a week EVERY week makes things a lot tougher IMO, especially when you have no other choice. In those circumstances, 10 miles can be quite far. Its a lot longer when its dark, raining, -2 degrees, you’ve got a cold, and didn’t get much sleep.

    That said, its absolutely the best way of fitting exercise into the day. Theres no extra time added onto the day and it saves money.

    Premier Icon Moe
    Subscriber

    I travel five miles to work and more often than not, about six to ten miles home through the forest, I SORN’ed my motorcycle to make me do it and tbh, three months in and it’s all smiles! Used to do seven (hillier) miles for about ten years and mostly enjoyed the ride (even though options were more limited).

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    I think “sensible” depends on the alternatives. I’m lucky in a way that where I live is rubbish for public transport. 6 miles to work. Tube station is 15 mins walk away, 5 mins walk at the other end, 45mins to 1hr. £7.20 a day, and it’s horrible. Compared to 25-30 mins and a bike ride. If it’s rainy, there’s a change of clothes and shoes, more than I’d have available if I was walking/tubing.

    If you pick a place that doesn’t have good public transport connections to work, you’ll more likely have good ride to work, more rural environment to live in, access to trails, cheaper rent. Pick a place where it’s easy to bus/train to work and you’ll have more people around, pay more rent, and if you fancy an extra 10 mins in bed, you won’t be biking, and it’ll cost even more.

    Edit: Make your choices up front by choosing where to live, because after that, you’re a product of your environment. I’d rather do 12 miles rural roads than 6 miles polluted, clogged London commute with 23 sets of lights and 6 zebra crossings. For example.

    And just saw your reply to mine earlier. You want a shortcut through those woods, don’t you? 😀

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    So as it’s looking like a 12 mile each way rural commute you’d be daft not to IMO!

    Don’t need to do it every day. Personally I drive/get the train at least once a week (significantly more regularly these days due to busy schedules!) to take in fresh shirts and what not, and avoid having to carry them on the days I ride. Riding unemcumbered is far nicer IMO!

    tonyd
    Member

    17 miles each way commute for me, cross country on fast A roads. I do it 3 times a week at the moment, will push up to 4 soon but it’s tiring and I still want to ride with family/mates at the weekend so not likely I’ll go to 5 days. Winter is grim and I found lots of excuses not to ride on the really shitty days/weeks.

    10-12 miles would be my ideal distance, then I’d happily get rid of the car and ride every day. You can always extend your route on a nice day.

    fontmoss
    Member

    Cheers guys. Ok prob not going to change where we’re looking at to live but good to know I can aim to ride in a few days a week then catch train on other days. Just need to decide on sscx or geared (posher) road bike to take to london.Feel bit happier about things, thanks all

    Hob Nob
    Member

    I did 30km (18.5 miles) door to door in an old job, mostly country roads, fair bit of climbing. I started doing it in about 1h15, by the end I would just break under the hour.

    I certainly got fit when it was sunny. But it bored me to tears doing it. Then I really dislike road riding, so it was always going to.

    5 days a week was too much for me to enjoy riding at the weekends too. If I didn’t have to have a normal life, then that mileage would be fine, the trouble was a full days work to do, and also a home life & upkeep.

    In the end I think I averaged between 2 & 3 times a week to give me a good balance of fitness, ability to work & wanting to actually ride my bike at the weekends.

    Would I do it again? Not sure now I have left that job & am home based… Riding less now, but the quality of riding is far better.

    Oh, and it’s really sh*t when the weather is bad. Even worse when it’s 5pm, dark, p*ssing down & blowing a headwind gale & you have to ride home.

    fontmoss
    Member

    I’m moving to London at the end of the summer and have posted several posts on the theme already. It’s looking like commuting by bike is possibly the best way to get to work.* I have never really had to commute by bike, did it when I worked in a bike shop and at the start of uni but neither were very far. If I were to do it now then the commute could dictate where we live. It would be a more significant distance anything from 10 miles to 20 but therein lies the crux – is this nonsense? Will I get a few months in and ask why the hell I’m doing it? If so then what’s a sensible distance?

    Thanks in advance, all sensible advice welcome. I’ve emailed and apparently bike lockers and showers available at work, hopefully find out the quality of both at end of May. I have a ss cx bike or a road bike (which is prob bit nice to commute on) I could use.

    *Chertsey is the closest station to work

    hh45
    Member

    I think “sensible” depends on the alternatives. I’m lucky in a way that where I live is rubbish for public transport. 6 miles to work. Tube station is 15 mins walk away, 5 mins walk at the other end, 45mins to 1hr. £7.20 a day, and it’s horrible. Compared to 25-30 mins and a bike ride. If it’s rainy, there’s a change of clothes and shoes, more than I’d have available if I was walking/tubing.

    If you pick a place that doesn’t have good public transport connections to work, you’ll more likely have good ride to work, more rural environment to live in, access to trails, cheaper rent.

    I think this is a v fair summary. I should have added that after 12 years riding to work 5 days a week, 47 weeks a year it is fantastic and one of the best single decisions I have ever made. Saves a lot of money, gets you really fit while taking no extra time from your day, great way to clear the mind of work, see loads of interesting back streets , country lanes etc, avoids being stuck on tube / train / traffic and it means you can live somewhere that is overpriced by virtue of its public transport connections. Do it!

    fontmoss
    Member

    Not sure about the last bit-to live where we want I’d need ti commute by motorbike really (about twenty miles each way)

    eyerideit
    Member

    I was working in Hammersmith last summer and riding from Leyton, which was a total of 28 miles through London. It was fantastic, I got very fit and it made riding at the weekends much more pleasurable.

    I’m riding to Kensington not which is a paltry 22 mile round trip and would happily ride all weekend if I could, on or off road. Even on a bad day when it’s windy, raining and generally miserable I’d rather be going to work on my bike than on public transport as I find it utterly depressing.

    Do it, you can eat what you want, get fit and if clears your head. If you’ve had a bad day take it out on the road, put a few lung busting sprints in and by the time you’re home, you’ll have forgotten what the problem was.

    fontmoss
    Member

    Do it, you can eat what you want, get fit and if clears your head. If you’ve had a bad day take it out on the road, put a few lung busting sprints in and by the time you’re home, you’ll have forgotten what the problem was.

    This is all very appealing!

    TiRed
    Member

    Twickenham to Chertsey would be a fine commute. I ride it most weeks as part of a cub run. 10 miles a day is my opener for a commute. Anything less feels too short for the full lycra and shower experience.

    ron jeremy
    Member

    7 miles each way, 4 days a week, leave shoes in office to drop weight carried, do feel like I need a rest day on Friday as it allows me to want to ride on Saturday/Sunday, also gives me the chance to join in on Fat Friday when it comes to lunchtime and not feel guilty about it…

    Love riding to work, allows me time to myself, made even more fun by doing it SS or fixed depending on mood, preparation is the key, packing bag and making lunch the night before helps of course

    Premier Icon edhornby
    Subscriber

    geared, there will be days when you will be glad of them, uphill with a headwind on a fixed gear that is usually not too badly overgeared becomes sapping when nature pushes you backwards…. 🙂

    roll shirts in the bag to avoid creases, stash as much in work as you can, get a locker and a bloody good Dlock that lives at work

    jambon
    Member

    Oh, I would highly recommend single speed for lots of commuting. The SE isn’t exactly mountainous. Gears become a pain in the neck with the cack that gets sucked up from the road and salt in winter. Red lights are awesome for practicing track-stands and drop offs on slicks on high pavements are all good practice for off-road skills. It really can be fun. The best bit is constantly looking for the ‘perfect’ route through all of the urban back-streets which are off the beat from commuting car drivers. The down-side is having to work late. Getting on a bike at 2am and cycling home after a 14 hour day is rubbish. Enjoy!

    mikertroid
    Member

    On a previous job I did six months drive/cycle commute.

    Drove early am 25 miles, cycled the remaining 15.

    Was cold in December but I’d try to do it at least three times a week. Lidl cycling gear kept me toasty!
    I still kept my summer tyres on which was an error. Caused two stacks by front wheel washing away. So don’t scrimp on tyres like I did.

    Now my commute varies between 80 – 250 miles so its not an option sadly.

    aP
    Member

    I ride from near Twickenham to North Greenwich – 20 miles each way. Its fine, but I won’t pretend that I do 5 days a week because I have meetings in town or other stuff on some days. Its fine. Find a good route hand work out how junctions work and where to place yourself.
    If you are going to be TW based let us know – we’re fairly amenable and ride road, cx and mtb out to surrey hills chilterns etc most weekends. There will be cake and maybe a cheeky half at the end.

    scu98rkr
    Member

    I sometimes do an 14 mile commute. Its good but I feel tired.

    I would want it to be 10 or less. I reckon 7 miles would be about perfect.

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