Real commuting questions

I was wondering how far some of you actually are commuting. Some suggestions/advice on how to do it. My big concern is what are you wearing in order to cool down fast and dress for work. Do you carry a back pack? Any tricks in what you pack in order to get ready for work? What problems might you incur? I will be riding a n36 12 miles one way. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Well, I typically commute 8 miles each way through Central London to work and back around 4 days a week.

I used to use a standard 29er with 114 cranks, which was great, but then bought a N36. This wasn’t really suited to London traffic though, but have since got a 29" Schlumpf which is just fantastic.

I always ride in cycling gear (Lycra type stuff), and carry my clothes in a back pack. Because I ride everyday I leave my suite at work, so generally carry in 5 shirts on a Monday and a weeks supply of clean underwear. This ‘heavy backpack day’ is always a bit slower, but it frees me up for the rest of the week. Having showers available at work is essential.

The backpack I use has a pocket for a camelback type bladder which also fits into the day sack type thing I use for the rest of the week. I think this is an important factor in being able to complete the journey each day.

How far do you currently ride? If you’re not comfy with a 12 mile commute just yet, can you get public transport for, say, half the journey and work up from there? Or are you planning on just once or twice a week and building up to the full week?


I own my own business and I would only be riding 3 days a week at the most just because I have night shoots (photographer). I would only be going one way for a while I could get a ride home. There is no public transportation around here. I live in a rural community. thanks for the help

I ride 5 miles one way when it’s light and not raining here. Generally that’s spring, summer, and part of autumn. I ride a Coker with 150mm cranks. I recently cable-tied a water bottle rack to the back of the seatpost. Should have done that sooner. I have long legs and my saddle is high so I can fit a 28oz bottle of water under the saddle. I wear bike shorts for comfort and carry my lunch and clothes in a backpack. I get REALLY sweaty under the backpack even when it is cool here and it is MUCH cooler here than where you are. I don’t carry tools because I’m not worried about a flat with the tough Coker tire. Besides, I ride pretty much along a bus route and can hop on it in an emergency. The dress code where I work is pretty much non-existent.

I used to ride 8.2 miles each way, but only occasionally. So I brought fresh clothes on days when I was riding. I would wear bike shorts and a T-shirt for the ride, then change in the men’s room. I also had a comb and deodorant, and would splash down my head in the sink. The mornings are generally cool so it wasn’t anything like what I’d look like after arriving home in the afternoon. The temperature record for one of my rides home was 107 degrees f. Whew! Generally, as soon as I’d stop on the way home I would be bathed in sweat. Jumping in the pool then was the best, though sometimes even after that I’d get out, dry off and sweat some more.

I was riding a Coker with 125s. My route had some small hills, and two sections of dirt. If I were doing it today I’d probalby use 114’s. Your crank length will be a factor of how bumpy or flat your ride is, combined with personal preference.

Now I ride to school (I’m taking a few classes) once or twice a week. It’s only 4.2 miles or so, with lots more traffic and intersections. Not nearly as fun. I’ll switch to shorter cranks after MUni Weekend, in preparation for my Ride The Lobster qualifying rides.

Problems you might incur:
Breakdowns. Carry a phone. My worst crash (almost my only) in all the times I rode to my old job was once when I was on my bike (bicycle). There was a shadow of a pole that exactly covered a speed bump. It had been over a month since my last ride and I didn’t notice the speed bump until my front wheel was airborne and my hands were airborne above the handlebars!

You also might incur things to delay your ride, so it’s better to leave some buffer time. You’re going to want to allow more than an hour, minimum, for your ride. Time yourself each time, and eventually you’ll have an idea of how long it’s going to take you in various conditions. Enjoy!

I have an easy 2.5 mile commute to work (so 5 round trip) and I do that 5-6 days per week.

Mine is about 4 miles. I tend to take it prety easily to avoid getting too sweaty. A change of T-shirt is usually enough. Stuff is carried in a rucsack. Today was the first time in full wet weather gear, nearly chickened out and drove but it wasn’t too bad. I always leave plenty of spare clothes in my desk draw for days when I forget something.

edit: forgot the stats… 28" 125 cranks

I ride about 5 miles in to work, and 4.8 miles back(hysteresis). Even on cool days the second i stop I am drenched… riding 125’s on hilly terrain, so I carry in a second set of clothes and change in the mens room.

I have found that as long as i have coffee i am happy… but er… that has nothing to do with commuting :slight_smile:

what do people do for night riding on their 36? I have a feeling very soon my ride home will be a dark one.

red strobe tail light. Got one from wal-mart and mounted it to the back of my seatpost/frame area so I’m seen at night without a problem.

Key things to bring:

  1. bike tool (hex keys) …in case your seat post comes loose or any thing else that requires a hex (seat angle).
  2. Something that will let you tighten your cranks (large hex key for me).
  3. Adjustable wrench. (pedals, bolts)

I would never leave home without a bike tool with multpile hex sizes. I have had to use it multiple times. I also have had to tighten my cranks a few times…keyword here is had…they would have fallen off.

I really should check my setup before leaving, but I usually am in a rush so I just make sure I have tools with me.

Other than that…you don’t really need anything. I have never had a flat with my coker or with my 29er, so there is no need to carry a heavy spare tube. Also, a 12 mile ride doesn’t really require bringing water…as long as it isn’t extremely hot outside. Of course some people might say differently, but I’d rather just ride an hour without water than have to have the extra weight.

As others have said…having access to a shower at work is the key thing. I usually bring a change of clothes with me in my backpack, but I leave my clunky heavy work shoes at work.

Also, if you are going to be commuting at night, get a good bike headlight that will clip onto your helmet, and get a red blinky light to put on your seatpost or on your backpack.

I just ordered this to commute at night in the dark:

and it is extremely bright and has quite a nice width of the beam. The only downside is that I had to order the helmet attachment separately.

My unicycle commute is between 9 and 11 miles each way, depending on the route. It’s mostly xc with a bit of road each end. Mostly cokerable (with 150s), but if I take the more knarly route I’ll use the 26" muni.

The sensible route takes me about 50 minutes in, 60 minutes back (I live on top of a hill).

I leave my trousers and shoes at work so all I have to carry most of the time is underwear and a shirt. We don’t have a shower at work, but if I get particularly sweaty/muddy/bloody(!) I can have a quick wash in the basin in the toilet. A can of deodorant stashed in the desk drawer is useful as well.

I use a smallish camelbak and a bum bag, which is enough to carry minimal tools, clothes and food.

For lights I use an led back light in the mesh pocket of the camelbak and a helmet-mounted 10w halogen, with an led head torch for backup.


EDIT: Just read the comment in the post above about water. I don’t dring any water on the way into work unless it’s really hot, but I certainly need it on the way home (but then it’s mainly downhill on the way in and up on the way back - about 1000ft)

EDIT AGAIN: I just wear normal cycling kit the same as I do on a bike (lycra shorts and jersey, long tights and jacket if it’s cold) with KH gloves. I always wear 661 shin/knee pads as well, but I’m just paranoid (and most of the route is off-road and quite stoney).

my commuting route is about 4 kilometers.
for security reasons I use a 20" and ride on pavement only. (I found the 29er to be pretty dangerous on the road)

In the morning I have a route along a very steep cliff and in the evening I just carry the uni on my shoulder because the path is too steep.
I carry my clothes in a big backpack and when I arrive at work I sweat and steam like hell.
the big problem is: no shower ! :astonished: so I use the men lavatory to do a complete wash … So I also carry everything I need. Showers should be mandatory in offices!

I agree completely. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that has showers and even lockers for all my stuff. It’s becoming more widespread but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Asking around the office or HR if there are showers is a huge help. I was doing contract work for places in DC and I always asked 2-3 people if there was a shower somewhere in the office. A lot of places have a room with a basic shower in it that most employees do not even know about. One place I was able to get access to was on the 3rd floor of an office building next to someones office…and the person who was in that office didn’t even know about the shower being there.

12 miles sounds like a lot to me

I often ride downtown at night, about 8 level miles one way. I carry nothing, and I have found drinking fountains along the way, so I get a break.
I think carrying a back pack for 12 miles would be a real irritant. I sweat like a pig, and wash my t shirt in the sink at a bar downtown. It’s a good thing you are self employed ! I bet you will show up tired and stinky ! LOL. It might be best to take a big bag of spare clothes to work with a car or bike. Then you can strip in the bathroom and clean up with a wet towel in the sink and put on dry clothes.

If you get the TA tire, they are very wear resistant, not flat prone. I just make sure everything is tight, and go, with the bare uni plus leds. If I had trouble I guess I would just walk it home, but the uni has been trouble free so far. That 24 miles is by no means undo able, but I would figure about 2 hrs. each way. I bet you will want to walk some, to break it up. Wear wrist wraps. Long rides make me tired and sloppy. I seem to go down more on the ride home then when I am fresh. Keep it fun !:slight_smile:

I will definitely be only going the 12 miles one way for a while. I’ll have my wife take me home. I am jealous of all the reasonable commutes. I usually grab 4-5 miles before I head off to work. I am glad there are others that wash up in the sink. Got a bit concerned over the one who said he washed in the toilet basin though. Please tell me that is another word for sink! Ha! Maybe I will start with leaving early and riding home for a while first so I can work out some of the time questions and fatigue. It is great to hear you all are using your uni’s for transportation. I am looking forward to hearing from more of you.

reread… He said basin in the toilet, my mistake. Still it was kind of funny… sort of like the first time i heard the word bullocks.

For me I “commute” about a half mile each way. So I don’t really have any long distance tips. Good Luck.


My ride is only about 4km so it really isnt a big deal, I don’t do anything specal except not ride real hard on my way to class.

I do leave my hardhat and steel toes in my locker as well as mapcases etc. as they are awkward on one wheel.

noticed the same thing when I visit our clients building: showers do exist but are unbeknownst to mere mortals.
I worked once for a company where HR took part of the showers away to avoid employees doing “naughty” things in it :stuck_out_tongue: (silly thing that happened only in the torrid imagination of HR) . So the bikers came with their own plumbing parts (one was commuting 30km).