Cycling to Work

dashik
dashik Posts: 156
edited January 2013 in Road beginners
Ok so I'm going to start Cycling to Work when the lighter mornings arrive. It's an 18 mile run each way and I reckon I can do that in around 1 hour and 15 to 1 hour and 30 mins..... Maybe faster as I get fitter.

I plan on doing a few trial runs on days off first to check times and difficulty etc :D

I think using the car on Monday and Friday to drop clean work clothes off and return with the dirty laundry on Friday would be a reasonable routine.

So I need to carry the following at least. -

A light pair of trainers for the walk from the bike sheds to the Fulfilment Centre. (it's across an elevated bridge with a steel floor with lots of non-cleat friendly holes in it).

Mobile phone.

Garmin Edge 500.

A small towel for the shower. Showerproof jacket (it's Scotland, It may rain occasionally.... ), overshoes and gloves, spare cycle socks. I'll also transfer the spare tube, multi tool, pump and puncture repair kit etc from the saddlebag as that's not going to be secure left on the bike. I'll get permission from the company to leave the lock at the cycle shed (locked of course :D)

Can anyone recommend a decent back pack for a road bike? I'm not needing anything stupidly big, the Idea is to carry the absolute minimum.

Anything obvious that I missed?

I've seen the Shimano Unzen range on the web, How are they? Anyone used one? Can anyone recommend a better backpack?

Comments

  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Personally I much prefer a backpack than anything on the bike.
    I have been using a cheap backpack up to now with hi viz waterproof cover
    http://www.cyclesurgery.com/pws/UniqueProductKey.ice?ProductID=S110CXX&gclid=COH4gaLkxbQCFefMtAodDncAGg
    I just bought rucksuck from camping shop, Karrimore I think, for £19.99 and is better than most I have seen for 3 x the cost.
    Best buy was shimano waterproof shoes, very warm and draught proof and very comfy, better than sidis with overshoes for sure.
    http://www.tweekscycles.com/Product.do?method=view&n=3390&g=244603&p=59796&c=215&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Base&utm_campaign=Road%20Bike%20Shoes
    I bought pair of waterproof bibs but only wear these when its pissing down lol they are very good but feel restrictive for normal rides but great in rain:
    http://www.tredz.co.uk/.Endura-Stealth-Lite-Biblongs-Cycling-BIB-Tights_20674.htm?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=AdwordsProductAds&utm_campaign=Adwords&gclid=CPjEsbHnxbQCFSbMtAodei4AUA
    I take clothes in on sunday for the week and have two lots so just swap them on a sunday.
    I use magicshine lights but going to try these next:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CREE-XML-T6-LED-Cycling-Bicycle-Bike-Front-Light-1800-Lumen-Headlamp-HeadLight-/261147110967?pt=AU_Sport_Cycling_Accessories&hash=item3ccd94ae37
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bike-Bicycle-Headlight-Front-Light-CREE-Q5-LED-Flashlight-500-Lumen-Torch-Clip-/390520341328?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5aecd38350
    Worht a shout for the head light even for spare battery for my magic shine at worst.
    I usually do two nights with extra loop to get 40 to 50 mile ride in so good lights a must for me.
  • napoleond
    napoleond Posts: 5,992
    Just started myself again, some good tips there. My problem is I work 2 x12hr days then 2x12hr nights. Riding home after nights is a mare :(
    Insta: ATEnduranceCoaching
    ABCC Cycling Coach
  • Its a nice area to cycle, with some nice hills and alternate routes depending on your destination. I cycle 21miles to st. Andrews a couple of times a week on average and started of at around 1hr 30 mins, but after a month or so i was down to 1hr 10 and now am usually a max of 1hr 5 unless the wind is blowin. Once you've done the route for a few weeks you'll definitely get quicker.

    I would suggest carrying two spare tubes though, in addition to the repair kit. I've been caught out with a puncture on my first replacement tube, and if you're cycling in the dark then some spare batteries.

    Best of luck, and you'll probably find yourself asking why you did 't start doing it years ago - i certainly did. Makes for a good end to the day, whatever the weather. The rain can be fun sometimes as well.
  • cyberknight
    cyberknight Posts: 1,238
    Saddlebags or panniers are really the way to go for longer commutes especially if your commute is at times and places where you have no support and no access to a bike shop if something goes wrong.
    Carrying work clothes, sarnies, tools, pump, innertubes , over trousers , windproof etc can completely fill my panniers at times and i would not want the weight on my back when grimping up some of the hills on my route .Apart from that i have tried backpacks and cant stand sweaty back syndrome .
    FCN 3/5/9
  • petemadoc
    petemadoc Posts: 2,331
    Yep, backpacks give you a horrible sweaty back!

    I try to have everything I need ready in work, towel, clothes etc and cycle as light as possible. If the weather is awful or you need a rest day then take the car and swap clothes, towels and so on. It usually works out pretty well.

    edit: don't forget to light yourself up like a Christmas tree, flashing lights are a must. Cycling during commuting hours is a different ball game from Sunday mornings.
  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Just started myself again, some good tips there. My problem is I work 2 x12hr days then 2x12hr nights. Riding home after nights is a mare :(
    Do a route before work lol keeps the metabolism high for the day.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    If you already have a backpack of some description, try it (and if not, borrow one). I use one for commutes of up to about 20 -24 miles and they are fine. Once you get to about 2 hours on the bike they start to get annoying but less than that and they are fine(for me anyway) but it really depends on you as to whether you will be OK with a backpack. Some people get on with them and some don't but they can't speak for you. But panniers are expensive and whilst you get a less sweaty back, they affect the bike handling more. It is important though to use a backpack with an air vent back which minimises (but doesn't eliminate) sweatiness. That said, the sweatiness depends on how sweaty you are! There are pros and cons for each and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

    You really don't want to carry spare shoes with you. They take up a huge amount of space and are pretty heavy. Most commuters use SPDs with trainer type recessed cleat shoes which would be fine for your lethal bridge crossing!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • dashik
    dashik Posts: 156
    Thanks for the reply's guys, I will be leaving at around 5am and cycling back just after 3pm on earlies and at around 1pm and back at 11pm on late's.

    I will definitely be a mobile Christmas Tree :D

    I'm really looking to just have a small dry towel, a change of cycling socks, light trainers, a showerproof/emergency rain jacket, some emergency tools and a flask of Banana smoothie at the most.

    I'll stick some cash in the bag and trust me I will be researching taxi companies along the route that run mini buses/people carriers. Especially for the 5 am ride.

    I can leave some bulkier stuff at work in the locker. I don't mind getting away late if I need to fix the bike then the shelter at Amazon is reasonably decent and the place is lit.

    That's a good point about the shoes Rolf F. I'll look into that as well.

    edit: I forgot to mention Its a Specialized Allez I'm riding with SPD-SL pedals so the MTB SPD are not an option as I don't want to be constantly changing the pedals.
  • I will also add that Carradice cotton duck (Originals/Super C) gear is incredibly waterproof, which is more than I can say even for my very expensive Karrimor hiking rucksack (not that I'd ever use it for cycling). Monsoonal downpours have failed to make contents even vaguely moist, and I never bother putting my stuff in plastic bags.
  • essjaydee
    essjaydee Posts: 917
    My commute is 11 miles each way. I used to use the Topeak rack and expanding pack/pannier bag system, but it does affect the handling of the bike, and you still notice the additional weight your lugging around! I ditched that and now use a Deuter backpack http://www.wiggle.co.uk/deuter/bags/ and while they are relatively expensive to buy, they are superb in quality and in use :D
    I much prefer this now for commuting. Can carry spare clothes, batteries, tubes, repair kit, pump, tools, and light lunch, phone, wallet etc in comfort.
    You can get a dummy water bottle to carry tools and spares in, which may be an option for you?

    Definately consider SPD pedals and shoes for commuting. Would save you having to carry shoes with you, and it only takes a few minutes to swap pedals for weekend rides.
  • dashik
    dashik Posts: 156
    Done a bit more research and it looks like I'll have to bite it and get lights. There's not much light at 11pm in Fife even at the height of summer lol. I would be getting home just after 12pm so here's hoping the roads I plan on using are fairly quiet during the dark hours 5am to 6:30am and 11pm to 12 pm.

    It's fine in the summer of a morning but always going to need them at night.
  • MichaelW
    MichaelW Posts: 2,164
    Most roadie commuter use a dedicated commuting bike setup with lights, mudguards, luggage etc and usable as a winter trainer. They keep a 2nd bike stripped to the bone for fun.
    For 18miles, carry some spare LED emergency lights (like the Aldi set).
    Carry at least 1 spare inner with another at work, with some patches.
    I always carry spare insulation in case I have to hang around in the cold, and a woolly hat.
    A large, quick-release saddlebag (Carradice SQR) works well for racing setups, you dont need a full rack.
  • andyeb
    andyeb Posts: 407
    Make sure you fuel properly for that kind of mileage and allow yourself recovery days if energy levels are plummeting. Regularly doing that kind of mileage takes it out of you - I speak as someone who did a 30 miles-each-way commute up to 3 times a week until I changed jobs recently.
  • Hoopdriver
    Hoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    Another vote for a Carradice saddlebag - i use the Super-C. It's great. And a saddlebag is far preferable to a backack.
  • gezebo
    gezebo Posts: 364
    My route is a 32 mile return. It's great once you get into it, even in poor weather. I use spd-sl as there is very little stop/start action or walking. For the distance you are thinking I'd go for the same unless you have lots of traffic lights etc as the benefit will out way the inconvenience in the long run.

    Personally I'd go for a pannier system as they are more efficient over distance and at speed. I can regularly hit nearly 50mph on descents with no adverse handling problems and its much easier to climb with them too.

    As far as tools etc go then that's a personal thing but having a hat and fleece extra as well as a headtorch is handy for breakdowns during winter. The petzl eLight thingy is good.

    Enjoy it!
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    You'll get some good advice over in Commuting Chat and also in Commuting General.

    I do what you're planning, near enough. Mine's a 21 mile trip, been doing it 2 to 3 days a week and sometimes all 5 days for the last 6 years. It soon becomes routine, getting to that point is the hard bit.

    Aim to carry nothing. I take enough clothes to last on car days, including towel, soap, deoderant etc. In the saddle bag on the bike is a tube, a PRK, two co2 cannisters + tyre levers. One 500 ml drinks bottle is enough (in winter I only half fill it). Clothing on the bike depends entirely on weather, from shorts & short sleeve top in summer to overshoes, leggings, baselayer + top + waterproof top in winter. 21 miles generates some heat so it's better not to overdo it though.

    Same with lights - none in summer but as soon as they're needed the whole lot go on, two on the front plus a flashing light, and three on the back. In the depths of winter a couple of flashing reflectives (from the Pound shop) round the ankles are really effective, and because I had them I put a couple of lights on my helmet - it's a mainly rural commute.

    Food wise I used to overdo it but now just have a couple of weetabix & a coffee before I set off. Normal intake through the day is enough although it's a good excuse to have a packet of chocolate biscuits on the go.

    Bike? Virtually all of my riding is the commute so I do it on the best bike, a carbon jobby with di2, just because I don't see the logic in having a great bike and then not making use of it. Whichever way you go about it it's cheaper than owning a car. Each to their own though.

    Enjoy it - that''s the main thing. Don't fall into the trap of thinking it's a stage of the TdF tho. You're looking at less than an hour to do that journey; it doesn't warrant a mountain of food and enough spares to build a new bike en route. Look after your bike, plan the clothing etc and there's really nothing to it.
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    For the hours of darkness I'd advise a small head torch. Not only is it handy for working on the bike or looking at your computer, but if you look directly towards drivers at roundabouts or junctions they stand a better chance of seeing you. I have an AA Maglite on a NiteIze headband and it's superb.

    The other thing I'd advise is not cycling if the weather's dreadful or there's a risk of ice. You don't want to turn this into a drudge, taking the car now and then is OK over such a long commute in the Scottish winter.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • brit66
    brit66 Posts: 350
    Don't carry heavy trainers - get some cleat covers. One of the best cycle related things I ever bought.
  • BigLee1
    BigLee1 Posts: 449
    Some great ideas there :D
    I`d also suggest neoprene overshoes, cut down ex army goretex pants so they`re shorts as they keep your thighs nice and dry if it rains :D and a full set of mudguards, far more comfortable not having a wet ar se from the road spray :D
    Get one of those hi vis rucksack covers or a hi vis vest to put over it. Over it, not under it!
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,473
    Strictly speaking you don't need the Garmin :wink:

    I used to do the car Monday & Friday with clean clothes and then didn't need a back pack but now I do a more ad hoc 2 or 3 days a week when I can (sometimes 5 days but very rarely) so carry my clothes with me. If you can take the clothes by car and maybe a couple of towels then you could get away with a saddlebag if the trainers can fit in it.

    You don't have to wait until it gets lighter either, just get some good lights. I'm not sure if it is the case but it always feels like I get given more space and drivers are more cautious when I cycle in the dark (dark and wet isn't a great combination though).
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Dashik wrote:
    edit: I forgot to mention Its a Specialized Allez I'm riding with SPD-SL pedals so the MTB SPD are not an option as I don't want to be constantly changing the pedals.

    I have two modern road bikes - my posh one has Look road pedals on it. My cheaper one (a Ribble Gran Fondo) has SPDs on. This year, most of my weekend rides have been on the Ribble (it has mudguards and no more explanation is needed!) - I have never consciously felt bothered by the SPDs on long rides. Some people do get hotspots but this might be more about the shoes than the pedals.

    Anyway, the point is - consider how much riding you are doing when. I rode 7000 miles last year and probably a good 5000 of them were on the commute. Therefore, you really should consider optimising the bike (and your footwear) for the commute if you are also going to be spending most of your cycle miles on the commute. In other words, think about ditching the SLs altogether.

    The other factor is that if you are commuting anywhere with lots of stop start, cleat life is quite short with SLs. And the clipping in is easier with SPDs.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    In other words, think about ditching the SLs altogether.

    +1. SPD shoes are generally more suited to the Scottish weather too. I have SPD-SLs on the "nice" bike but SPDs on all my others. I ride one to work and have to walk about 150m to my desk from the stupidly situated bike shed, SPDs make it much easier and I just leave work shoes under my desk all the time.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • dashik
    dashik Posts: 156
    Some good info there guys thanks, I'm not looking to get started for about 5 to 6 weeks, I have a few bits to buy and I also need to get a decent sized locker at work. That's not as simple as it sounds it turns out lol.

    I'm leaning towards taking as much in by car and the bare minimum on the bike for the trips.

    I like the Garmin, while its NOT a race to work its still good to know how fast etc.

    Its mainly an A road from Glenrothes to Dunfermline via Kinglassie, Cardenden, Lochgelly (I'll keep plenty in reserve so as not to stop in Lochgelly lest they nick the bike from under me ;)),Cowdenbeath Crossford and then Amazon Dunfermline Not much stop - start and most of the traffic uses the dual carriage way these days.

    One biggish hill just before Lochgelly appropriately at the cemetery...... But the rest of its is fairly reasonable. I'll be doing a trial run soon.

    I would love to be able to just go with bike, lights, jacket just in case and appropriate gear for the weather on the day cash, keys ID badge.

    I'll see how it works out with the shoes, SPD-SL covers might be an idea to start and I'll look at SPD shoes in any case.

    I have no problems jumping in the car if its a really crappy day. :D
  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Pross wrote:
    Strictly speaking you don't need the Garmin :wink:

    I used to do the car Monday & Friday with clean clothes and then didn't need a back pack but now I do a more ad hoc 2 or 3 days a week when I can (sometimes 5 days but very rarely) so carry my clothes with me. If you can take the clothes by car and maybe a couple of towels then you could get away with a saddlebag if the trainers can fit in it.

    You don't have to wait until it gets lighter either, just get some good lights. I'm not sure if it is the case but it always feels like I get given more space and drivers are more cautious when I cycle in the dark (dark and wet isn't a great combination though).
    I find that nearly all the close shaves I get are when its light and cars see me late, dont get this issue when dark with all ,y lights, including 2 sets of xmas lights from poundland which I leave on commuting bike lol and just bout one of these red led lights with laser lines.
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Cycling-Bicycle-Bike-Rear-Tail-Safety-Caution-3-LED-2-Laser-Flashing-lamp-light-/251168847736?pt=AU_Sport_Cycling_Accessories&hash=item3a7ad47778
  • dashik
    dashik Posts: 156
    You would think it would be easy wouldn't you? A multinational world class company, Environmental champion (apparently), Member of cycle to work scheme, decent bike sheds and showers but just try and get a locker big enough to keep your kit etc in while you work.....

    I've got to go and try and get the employee council rep to try and push for a decent locker for me! Failing that I will have to go up the ladder at the work and go for manager above manager until I get a locker......

    It seems the larger locker's are for managers...... Never mind allocation as to need lol