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Eerie

Bike Commuting: tricks to eliminating the hassle?

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I'm considering the option of biking to work. Can anyone that commutes by bike give me any recommendations about how to eliminate the hassle of the whole process? I consider things like when to shave, how to transport clothes without wrinkling, what to do with your wet towel/smelly ass clothes/stupid bicycle helmet, etc.. as hassles.

The bike ride alone would be pretty cool for the most part. I work in an office and don't have the option of looking like I just woke up and threw on whatever clothes I found on the ground. I do have a shower available to use but no locker.

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Drive on Monday (or come in on the weekend) and bring folded clothes for the week and throw them in a box under your desk. And a towel. That's what assmonkey does.

 

Don't forget shoes, or you'll click on the bathroom floor.

 

- a s s m * n k e y

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Bring your favorite daypack and put your smelly stuff in there. Stow it proudly under your desk. Bring a small mirror and shave in the shower.

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Our office is pretty casual and ecologists are no fashion plates so my attire is not a problem. However these ideas may help. It's good you have a shower.

 

Roll clothes instead of folding. If you have to do the suit thing I have no suggestions since I never wear them.

 

One guy in our office brings a few days worth of clothes into the office on the one day of the week he drives to the office. But you at least need a closet to hang clothes.

 

Keep your office shoes at the office in the file cabinet

 

If there's no place to dry a towel then bring a plastic bag for transporting it home.

 

If there's no place to hang smelly bike clothes then do an easy spin into work and go a long loop home for the workout.

 

Ask about getting a clothes rack and wire shelf in the shower area for clothes storage.

 

Another option, but more expensive is joining a gym with lockers nearby the office and storing stuff there.

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I think the biggest thing is bike mainanance, since I can pretty much wear whatever I want at work. Things like chains breaking and chronic flat tires can really make you miserable, especially when it is pouring rain. Here are my tips for moderate to heavy bike usage.

 

1. Replace your chain about every month, go with a cheaper chain. I know people who spend way too much on chains and they wear just as fast. Chains are cheaper than chainrings and cogs so replace it every month. Also get a Pedros chain cleaner and clean your chain after every wet ride, it may sound like a pain in the ass but it takes 2 minutes with this deal.

 

2. Inspect your tires after every ride. Tires with gashes in them get replaced. Carrying a spare tire is not a bad idea either. Carry two tubes, a CO2 pump with 3 cartridges. I never patch tubes. Inspect your rim tape to make sure your tubes are popping on the spoke holes. Being anal about this shit can save you so much time it's rediculous.

 

3. If you do fenders to the full setup and make sure it is bomber, and carry zip ties in case something does break. Fenders breaking on a 35 mph downhill is scary shit. I extend my fenders with a half bike bottle attached with pop rivets. You can also buy these things called Flapjacks for your fenders, they are carbon fiber and the are fuckign cool. A good fender setup can keep you so much drier than without.

 

Oh yeah, I'M RICK JAMES, BITCH!

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All good suggestions. I live in the lap of luxury for biking to work because we have a full locker room with showers, so I leave my work clothers permanently at work (there is even a dry cleaner across the street!), and shower and shave here after the ride in.

 

I would strongly suggest petitioning your workplace to find a place where people can at least hang work clothers and dirty biking clothes, even if there are no lockers (none of us here use locks on our lockers anyway...if you want to steal my dirty biking shorts, god be with you). After having showers, this sort of storage space is key to making this all work (and showers without this storage are kind of useless, IMHO).

 

However, to follow up on Jon's suggestion for bike maintenance: if you get a flat, or have a drive train problem on your way to work, fixing it results in dirty hands for a week. Not always so cool if you have a meeting first thing, and black, greasy hands are not de rigeur in your workplace.

 

Solution: carry a pair of latex gloves, or even rubber washing up gloves, in your pannier with your repair kit. Then, when you need to change a tube or fix a chain, pull 'em on, do the dirty work, and presto - you still have hands as clean as the pure driven snow afterwards. I use them for most bike maintenance because I hate the persistent dirty hands.

 

Sounds kind of silly, I know, but I like to simplify my post-repair clean-ups, and scrubbing my hands like Lady MacBeth with degreasers, or butter, or whatever, is a pain in the ass that is great to avoid.

 

Have fun riding to work. It is great - such a great way to start or end the day. Plus, it saves you money.

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damn. you guys are hardcore...riding to work when it rains even. I don't care so much about the "workout" or being "good for the environment" as much as the nearly $5 per day it is costing me to drive to work and back each day and this figure is sure to increase during the summer months.

I did see some good ideas: like bringing in clothes the one day I drive in for the rest of the week, leaving work shoes at work, etc. Damn jon, I didn't even consider maintenance issues during the ride to/from work! Who would have thought wearing rubber gloves suggestion would come from someone named stinkyclimber.

I talked to the office services manager about the shower... the amenities include: 1 large shower. No mirror, no sink, no lockers. With some of your suggestions I'm sure to get the situation figured out. Then, what to do when I want to climb after work and I've got an hour ride ahead of me before arriving home........ errrrrr...

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Great advice on the gloves! Wish I would have thought of that.

 

My suggestions (I've been bike commuting in Portland for 15 years):

 

1. Find a dry cleaners close by your workplace. I bike with just a fanny pack that I take my underwear/t-shirts and socks in. Leave your shoes and other clothes at work. I take my towel home once a week.

 

2. If there are no lockers than buy a clothes rack (I got one for ~$25) and set it up in the shower area if there is enough room. I found a closet housing our hot water heater and set it up in there.

 

3. Leave an extra belt and pair of socks in your desk. For some reason I am always forgetting these.

 

4. Jon mus tbe harder on his bikes than me. I've NEVER broken a chain. Stiff links? Sure. I've only gotten a couple flats but I keep a small pump and repair kit in my fanny pack.

 

5. Ride with traffic and don't run lights or weave in and out of cars. This is one of the more important lessons I learned at took the longest. Resist the urge to run lights. It pisses off the motorists to no end and just breeds ill will.

 

6. I don't know if Seattle has bike lockers you can rent but if they do kick out the dough and do it. I had three bikes stolen from various racks in Portland before I finally shelled out the ducats for a locker. The peace of mind has been more than worth the cost.

 

Hope that helps

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Seattle has bike lockers, probably look on the Metro website, mine is through my work.

 

Gloves? What are you worried about screwing up your french manicure? LOL

 

I've never broken a chain either, and there is a reason. I look at chains like ropes, you could probably wear them longer than you should, but if they break it is a major inconvenience. In the winter I change it about every month, but then again I'm riding about 10 to 15 hours a week rain or shine and that put some wear on the thing. Around now is different, I usually just look at the wear on it. And like I said it's cheaper to replace a chain then a whole drivetrain.

 

Definately follow the rules of the road! There are so many pissed off drivers it's rediculous. I get yelled at while I'm in the bike lane.

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When you need to mess with the bike chain, like if it's jumped the sprockets or chainrings, find a stick to manipulate it with. Don't use your fingers.

Leave the house in clothes that leave you cold for the first ten minutes, and wear your rainjacket as little as possible, you'll be a lot more comfortable once you get to work. I see people riding in their waterproofs on days a tshirt would suffice, and think they must be sweaty. In the winter, a light softshell works great most every day except downpours.

 

Find a good route to ride. even if its a few blocks out of your way, riding on a slow back street, or finding the road with the bike lane, is totally better than riding a madcap arterial.

 

My 2 cents.

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After having a patch job fail on a tire 12 miles out from home on a cold October evening in the dark, I now carry a completely independent tube and sometimes a tire. Yes, a pain, but I never want to deal with that again. Patching tubes in the cold rain is the pits. Start commuting now, while you can commute with daylight. Night commuting in the rain is a whole nother ballgame with some hefty logistics compared to summer commuting.

 

One issue some people have is getting up earlier to start a long commute. Have your stuff laid out and ready to go the night before, and the coffee ready to brew if you need that.

 

Panniers are very nice and allow a lot of heat to spill off you, if you can't take a shower at work this keeps the sweat down a bit. Panniers get stolen immediately if you lock up your bike downtown, so take them with you.

 

Get a really f-ing bright flashing red led tail light and turn it on all the time.

 

Get slicks for your mtn bike if that is your commuter. You will find an enormous improvement.

 

A pair of clear sunglasses keeps road grime and summer bugs out of your eyes.

 

Get a bike bell. This is nicer than yelling out to people ahead of you that you are there.

 

Carry a disposable camera. If you commute long enough you will inevitably encounter the bumper of a car. A biker was killed recently in Portland in a hit and run incident.

 

A chain tool will solve the broken chain issue.

 

Learn how to repair your bike, completely. If you start commuting in the winter, it will get trashed and you need to maintain it.

 

Sewer grates are your enemy, as are streetcar tracks. wave.gif

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fuk the commute: that is the easiest part. is there a trick to eliminating the hassle of work?

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Get a really goddamn bright neon Yellow bike jacket.

 

Beware suburbans driven by people on cellphones.

 

Watchout for streetcar tracks

 

Beware the after work happy hour bigdrink.gifpitty.gif

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lummox said:

fuk the commute: that is the easiest part. is there a trick to eliminating the hassle of work?
Here! Here! sir lummox!!!

 

fortunately I'll be riding the Burke-Gilman for about 95% of the 18mile one way trip so I won't be exposed to too much vehicle traffic. It will serve me right if I run a stop sign and almost get hit by a car.... as I lived off the B-G for 2.5 years and nearly hit so many bikers who were running the stop signs. There's a cleaners shop just downstairs so I'm set with that. Now to get a place to store clothes in the office.

 

Thanks everyone for the tips. Eerie.

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on the BG, you gotta watch out for slow walkin' people, especially in the u. village-sandpoint corridor. not so much an issue in high summer, but in spring/fall, lots of people out for a stroll at dusk right when you are cranking it out to try and catch the beginning of Survivor are a bad combinations, especially on that stretch where the trail is kind of down in a gully and/or sidehilling in the trees and doesn't get much spillover from the streetlights.

 

some other tips: learn the bus routes that parallel your commute. then when something goes wrong that you don't have the time or tools to fix, you can hop on board, stash the bike, and still get to work on time, then deal with the machine later.

 

one more clothes note, i plan my biking with my schedule, so days that i wear a tie and crisp shirts, i ride the bus; days i'm just working at my desk, i bike with clothes rolled in a pack. as many people have noted already, you can usually monitor your "sweat output" so that you maybe don't need a shower after a slow ride in, then take a longer or steeper route home for a workout

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Yeah and if you don't have bad BO, a bathroom will suffice. Just some water on the face to make you feel good and a couple handfuls of water through the hair to get rid of helmet head. Take sweaty clothes off, put clothes that were rolled up in pack on, add some deodorant and off to work. I usually wore dockers and a nice shirt. I guess because of the humidity I never really had a problem with wrinkles. The thing I really hated about riding in the rain was the limited visibility and distraction factor for the auto drivers. Seattle is awesome for bus transportation, so the above reference to being near or knowing where the bus routes are, is a great one. Especially during the morning commute, you probably won't have to wait more than 15 minutes for the next bus to come along. I wore a whistle around my neck that I'd mouth when downtown. Too many cars trying to turn or park or peds trying to jaywalk. Never had any maintenance problems and only carried a scewdriver, tiny patch kit, and pump.

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one way to eliminate much of the hassle of bike maintainence is to ride a singlespeed. no shifting, no derailers, best possible setup for riding in the rain (i lived in juneau for the past 3 years) and it is also great for riding in -20 degree weather, since shifters tend to freeze-up anyway. and best of all it makes you a stronger rider.

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I used to ride as a messenger in Vancouver. Singlespeed (but with a freewheel) rocked!

 

Nice strong wheel, cheap, never miss a shift, always in the right gear, hahaha.gif light. I could replace my whole drivetrain for under a $100. laugh.gif

 

Just make sure to spring for a dcent quality BMX freewheel. The cheap ones self destruct, and will throw you to the ground, unfortunate if you happen to be sprinting a cross a busy intersection... blush.gif

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If it's a super long ride, or you need clothes at work, you can do the rotating commute.

 

Drive to work on monday morning, with bike in car, then biek back home. Bike to Work on Tuesday morning, and drive home with bike in car. Repeat.

 

I have a very small '93 nissan Sentra, and I can still fit my road bike in the back seat after taking off the front wheel.

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I'm on week three of bike commuting. My pickup gets SHITTY gas mileage and they just opened a new train line in PDX that I can link up with from my bike ride.

 

If I could make one suggestion that no-one else has mentioned... it'd be to buy some BEEFY wheels. I ride a road bike and I've already beat the crap out of my wheels. They're so far from true it's not even funny.

 

I just found out that in Oregon, employers can get a pretty major deduction for building showers in their buildings to encourage bike commuters. It might be worth a mention to your employer if you don't have a shower at work.

 

I do have a shower at the office, leave all my clothes at work, and ferry a stack of clothes to the dry cleaners down the street from work once a week.

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If I could make one suggestion that no-one else has mentioned... it'd be to buy some BEEFY wheels. I ride a road bike and I've already beat the crap out of my wheels. They're so far from true it's not even funny.

crossbike tires will help. a lot.

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