Biking to work

Does anyone do this? Im thinking of giving a try next week, the problems I have are first I need a bike, plan on spending some time this week getting a bike. Next weekend i’ll try riding to work to see how long it takes and find a good route.

The big problem is that I live about 15 miles from work. I have no idea if this is really too far or not. Or how long it might take, which is why im going to do some experimenting next weekend.

So going to and from is about 30 miles. Is this doable or is it just too far?

Also, any recomendations on a bike, I don’t want to spend any more than $400 at most but much less would be better.

I think 15 miles might be a bit too far, especially if you haven’t ridden a bike very much. You might want to think of, oh, I dunno, catching a bus somewhere and then biking the rest of the way? I bike to the train stop everyday, sometimes all the way into town, but that’s if I have enough time. I can go about let’s see, err, 10? miles without getting tired, but it takes me about an hour to go 6-8 miles…sorry for the uncertainty, doing calculations in my mind. Km you know. If you live in a hot place, you have to think of packing a handkerchief and such, 'cause you don’t want to arrive at work all messy.

So it might be tough, I guess it depends on how much traffic you think you’ll meet and what kind of roads you’ll have to use. You usually can’t just think of going the same way you always do, because a lot of games, its not suitable for a bike, right? So it could be shorter or longer depending on that. I always like to the option on your cellphone that nixes highways and such when you ask for directions or a map, so I can get bike-suitable routes and I find that makes for a great way to find and experiment with routes.

I really love riding my bike though, I wouldn’t have any other way. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a car. Once you start, I find you start missing getting on your bike for a ride even when you don’t have to somewhere, so you just casually go on a little ride. I live right next to a very large span of rice paddies that goes into a mountain town and a large forest shrine (I don’t like biking in the shrine though, because there are huge spiders in the middle of the road that drop on passersby).

As for a bike, I don’t know about all that professional stuff, as usually American bikes have all those speed settings on the handles and stuff. But for me I always check three things:

  1. Is the light generator pretty easily charged so I don’t have to go real fast and can just relax and still have a headlight?

  2. Is the basket a good side so if you make sudden turns and such you don’t bang up your hands on its wires? One never knows when one will get an urge for food or groceries, so its important to have the bike’s balance preserved.

  3. Is there a proper place for someone to sit on the back? I don’t like the ones with just little nubs for somebody to stand on.

I usually just pay $40 to $80 for my bikes (stealing, you know, gotta replace them) so I wouldn’t know about all that fancy upper-echelon stuff.

Good luck though! Bikes kick ass!


If you’ve never done it before, it’ll take you at 1h20m each way. That’s assuming you have stop lights, street signs, and other traffic that you have to deal with that lowers your average speed.

See, unless you’re really fit, you’re not going to be spinning more than 20mph. At 20mph, it takes 40mins to travel 15 miles. But then there are traffic lights, stop signs, hills, etc, that lower your average speed. So assume an average speed of 10mph.

Ack. Kitsune cross-posted.

Basket? Stuff can fall or be knocked out of a basket. Get a backpack! I put my work shoes in them (i wear my cycling shorts under my khakis, but for 15 miles, you’ll probably want to pack a whole change of clothes in your backpack).

Generator? Very unsafe for city cycling. Get rechargeable batteries and an LED bike light. 400+ candlepower, lasts 30+ hours, and is bright enough that vehicles recognize you. Generators suck because the brightness of the light varies with your speed (which is very dangerous in city traffic), and they put a lot of resistance on the wheel which tires you out quicker.

For a commuter? An entry-level road bike or hybrid. The decent models are $600 up if you buy them new, but you can find one used for $400. add another $150 for helmet, shoes, shorts, rear and front lights, and a speedometer.

I wouldn’t want to go 30 miles a day on a too-cheap bike. The parts won’t hold up.

I have a Giant OCR-2 myself:

If I didn’t have a Giant, I’d probably have a Kona hybrid:

or maybe a Bianchi:

add another $150 for helmet, shoes, shorts, rear and front lights, and a speedometer.

That’s pretty hardcore, but personally I think its always much more pleasant to just ride in whatever your wearing. I can’t stand those spickety frou frou stretchy tight shorts I see some bikers wearing.

And no one will ever see me wearing one of those helmets! :D (Yeah, yeah, “you’ll be sorry when your head is splattered all over the ground, blah, blah.” Save it, I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been in plenty of bike accidents and know I’ll most likely be okay, got it?)

And I just mentioned about baskets and generators, because almost all bikes have them, right? So…best to make sure you’re comfortable. I use a combination of backpack and basket and that’s really nice.


Helmets don’t do one bit of good if you are hit by a car, but they can be useful if you fall due to your own mistake. I’ve crushed one on the curb. I’m a believer.

We had a really big bike thread a few weeks ago in this very thread. I’d dig up the link, but I’m too tired after WINNING THIRD PLACE IN A PAINTBALL PUMP TOURNAMENT today. My arms are falling off. I pumped my marker at least 1000 times today. I definitely need more practice with the five-knuckle shuffle. :-)

Bike shorts are padded all along your bottom. They let you ride comfortably for long distances.

I was hit by a car not 2 months ago and without a helmet, I’d be dead from a slow (about 5mph) crash.

That said, you should try hard to get about 2 weeks practice riding your bike before you try to ride 30 miles in a day. And don’t do what I do, which is ride a mountain bike around town. It isn’t too fun, because they really are meant for mountains! I have slick tires on mine, but still.

Helmets are good, and biking shorts are a must. Panniers will be much more comfortable than a backpack over 15 miles if you’re carrying anything.

Where in Maryland do you live/work? I might be able to give you better advice if I know the area or even route that you’re taking.

I live just outside of Baltimore on the east side, in Overlea just outside White Marsh. I would be going from there to Hunt Valley. I figure if I take Joppa Rd or Putty Hill rd to Towson then just take York Rd all the way up.

I might be able to cut over before getting to Towson and get straight on York rd, I just need to take a closer look at some of the side roads to see if any will easily get me there.

Let’s see, Kitsune recommends…

  1. No helmet
  2. No cycling shorts (i.e. the ones with the padding in the ass)
  3. Wearing regular clothes for riding
  4. Making sure you have room for an extra rider
  5. Getting a good handlebar basket to preserve balance

And he seems uncomfortable with gears. Yeah, I’m going to have to recommend you not listen to him on bike advice. It sounds like Japan is a whole other world when it comes to biking.

Not sure I’m down with the whole cycling shorts thing.

Why not just buy a comfortable seat? That’s always worked for me. That and pegging my left pants leg…

Because I’m a fat ass nowadays, I wear normal athletic shorts over my cycling shorts when I ride. A little more padding doesn’t hurt (although too much could be a problem). However, if I were to ever start biking to work, I’d never wear my work clothes on the bike. Road grime and sweat do not make a good work impression.

I’ve been biking to work for the last month now. Its an 11k ride in each direction, so I get an 70-80 minutes of exercise every work day. I haven’t weighed myself lately but I feel much better and my wife claims I am tighter!

But now winter is coming and its getting harder. Last morning the temperature was 39.2. My hands almost fell off my arms. I should probably get warmer clothes, but then I’ll sweat like a pig.

So did anyone else started biking to work since 2004? How do you manage the cold?

Never ever get on a bike without a helmet. Seriously. I’ve been saved by my helmet three times, twice from overconfidence on my part while offroading and one time i got nailed by a car that was running a red light. I would most likely have gotten serious head injuries all three times. So unless you are willing to risk becoming a vegetable, helmet up.
And biking shorts are also handy if you’re a fat ass like myself. Saves you a lot of chafing and general unpleasantness.

If you are going to bike 30 miles every day i would look into getting a hybrid, something like a Kona Dew perhaps? (I have no idea about prices for these things in the US BTW).

15 miles should take you about 45 minutes if it’s not too hilly.

How do you manage the cold?

Gloves, gloves, gloves! I really like a thin (3mm or so) pair of diving neoprene gloves. They keep your hands toasty and there’s enough padding from the neoprene to absorb some of the road vibration.

A fleece worked for me as something to take the edge off while I got going and could then be unzipped once I got going to reduce the sweat.

The neoprene gloves seems like a neat idea. It’ll also solve the rain problem.

The OP meant to bike 30 miles every day. I’m only half crazy.

For me, cold is all about gloves and long sleeves. Though I will rarely bike if it’s not at least 50 degrees F. Also, I think sunglasses help a lot, but I wear those all the time for a wind shield.

Gloves, thermal underwear and carefully layered clothes work for me for the winter, and I’ve made the ride to work in single (farenheit) digits. However, that’s a mere mile and a half, and I’ve been aware that on the coldest days I really couldn’t go much further. The problem is not cold limbs or hands, but what it does to your face, nose and lungs.

Above freezing, though, and I can go about as far as I want.