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Commuting to work - how far is too far

run4marmiterun4marmite Posts: 4
edited December 2014 in Commuting chat
Hi Folks

I'm not a new cyclist and I have been commuting around 9 miles each way for many years on a Hybrid (Specialized Sports). I'm very fit run marathons and managed to do the London to Brighton bike ride in under 4hrs on my hybrid.

I've recently switched jobs and it would be 17-18 miles each way so it's literally double to distance. I've tried tubing it for the last 2 months and not only is it costly (£140 odd each month) but it's hard to go back to public transport after spending so long on a bike, plus I like my space and the delays are killing me.

I'm pondering getting rid of the hybrid and getting a road bike and saving time and money.

So my question is how far does everyone commute and is 38-40 miles a day realistic?
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Posts

  • gbsahne001gbsahne001 Posts: 1,968
    Been doing this distance for the last 3 -4 years; start by doing it 2 or 3 times a week and build up to it.

    I'd also swap the bike, although today's mileage was courtesy of a 1995 steel hybrid fitted with Winter tyres. If it's a rural commute, you'll save some time but it's certainly going to be more comfortable.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    The advantage of the drop bars is that you can
    a) change position
    b) reduce your drag

    I wouldn't get rid of the hybrid though - having a spare bike that you can have set up for different weather conditions or use just in case is hugely beneficial.
    In my case I can use
    1) my good road bike - if the weather is good - it has no mudguards and I don't want to trash it.
    2) my old road bike - this has CrudRR guards fitted for the winter - its still a quick ride
    3) my CX bike - I bought this for bad weather commutes or general purpose riding - it has a rack and guards fitted, it's a more relaxed position and can take wider tyres - it's currently fitted with 25mm, but I have a second wheelset with 32mm tyres and spare studded tyres that I can quickly swap around.

    Currently I'm using the CX as the roads are damp and it kicks up a lot of crud - plus I've got the christmas lights fitted to it ;)
  • whoofwhoof Posts: 756
    Been commuting for about 30 years over a range of distances. I currently do 25 miles a day, I 've been doing it for about 3 years and only miss 5 or 6 days a year and it's just the way I get to work.The bike I use is a 20 uear old road bike with a pannier and Marathon plus touring tyres.
    When I started the job it was 40 miles a day (I later moved house) I did this for about 6 months. This seemed a lot longer and I rode most days but occasionally drove half way for a bit of a break as I was also doing about 100 miles in a weekend.
    It is doable just depends just depends upon how much you want to do it.
  • asprillaasprilla Posts: 8,440
    Depends on the individual.

    I once did six months (in winter) for 260 miles a week commuting. I was shattered by Friday and I ate like a horse. I put on weight rather than lose it and I didn't do any cycling at the weekend.

    I'm now doing around between zero and 200 miles a week depending on how frequently I go into the office and it's relatively easy. Thursday is still slower than Monday but I don't eat everything I see, from trucks to prickly trees and I can still ride and be active at the weekend instead of just becoming a couch potato.
    Mud - Genesis Vapour CCX
    Race - Fuji Norcom Straight
    Sun - Cervelo R3
    Winter / Commute - Dolan ADX
  • I started doing 20 miles each way in April and it is very doable once you get used to it (preferable to train/tube). The major advantage of being in London is that you can just whip out the Oyster card when life/work dictates.
  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    Various tips and comments on long commutes on an old thread here:

    viewtopic.php?f=40052&t=12794832
  • rower63rower63 Posts: 1,991
    Three years ago I made a move very similar to what you seem to have done, going from a 10-mile commute (for 23 years) to a 19 mile.
    I jumped straight in to 19 miles 5 days a week. I got a bit tired after 4-5 weeks, but it soon passed, and it was even noted on here about a year after my move "anyone notice Storck Guy seems to have got faster lately?" (by cjcp, before I was aware of this community).
    I am a rower, and 10 niles was not enough for me to properly maintain fitness. 19 miles definitely is.
    Dolan Titanium ADX 2016
    Ridley Noah FAST 2013
    Bottecchia/Campagnolo 1990
    Carrera Parva Hybrid 2016
    Hoy Sa Calobra 002 2014 [off duty]
    Storck Absolutist 2011 [off duty]
    http://www.slidingseat.net/cycling/cycling.html
  • The last winter that I was commuting in the Highlands I was doing 18 miles each way on an MTB shod with Ice Spiker nobblies. I'd built up to that with regular commuting of 15 miles each way on a roadie. As above, good idea to build up and also pace yourself too to maintain your glycogen reserves. Also, if you can avoid using a backpack (by taking work clothes in by another method, for instance) that will improve your ride. A roadie is a definite benefit though.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • I do 20 miles each way every day. All you need is to build up to it, have good kit and, crucially, good mental strength.

    If you can't leave the house when it's grim then no amount of fitness helps.
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • dodgydodgy Posts: 2,890
    I think there's a threshold where the 'rules' change slightly, about 15 miles each way I reckon. Once you go over that, you need to put a lot more thought into everything. Having a spare bike as already mentioned is good, you also have to be on top of your maintenance. Nutrition is something I find a bit difficult, it's easy to convince yourself that you can eat what you want, like others have said, I don't lose weight when commuting (mine is 22 miles each way).

    I started commuting by using whatever bike I preferred (usually the fastest) and using a messenger bag, I've now gone to using my Day One Alfine with racks and pannier, it's slower but much better overall.

    If you do buy a new bike, get one with discs that can take full mudguards and a rack.
  • Thanks so much for all the really useful and encouraging comments. They've all left me totally inspired and excited to get on with it. I really hate the tube at rush hr & it takes me almost 2hrs each way door to door. I only lasted a month on the tube when I moved to London after graduating 8yrs ago before I got a bike to beat the clock and avoid the crowds which appear to much cosier than it was back then.

    I'm pretty confident I can adapt fitness wise as I go the gym or run on top of my usual commute so I could replace that with the longer commute. Plus I think my regular 2-3 marathons a year days are behind me. I've been looking at switching to Sportives instead as I did a couple and really enjoyed them and this could work out perfectly.

    I'm just going to need to be a lot more organised in terms of mechanics, bags and nutrition etc. Not to mention traffic.

    Meanredspider - after visiting the highlands for the first time last year I really envy your commute!!! Unfortunately London just can't compare.
  • One other useful thing. Can you get into your workplace on, say, a Sunday evening and drop provisions in? That makes it much easier for me.

    That and having my own office, toaster, kettle, blinds etc. :D
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • Meanredspider - after visiting the highlands for the first time last year I really envy your commute!!! Unfortunately London just can't compare.

    Well, satisfy yourself that I'm now commuting in Amsterdam (OK - that may be as bad, just in a very different way :wink: )

    But, yes, the Highlands is a very beautiful place to commute

    SunshineCulloden.JPG
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • One other useful thing. Can you get into your workplace on, say, a Sunday evening and drop provisions in? That makes it much easier for me.

    Yes - that's the point I made earlier. I do my short commute these days with a backpack but then I'm in "civvies" on a SS with guards etc On my old commute, I'd be lycra'd up and hammer in on the V - it was a lot more fun.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • I went from 9 mile commute (flat) to a 16mile commute with 1000ft of climbing. Thought I'd cope with it fine and in some respects I do but I get pretty tired and it effects my focus at work occasionally.

    The biggest change for me was the type of roads and general behaviour of motorists the further from London you go. Commuting now from Brentford to Watford can be stressful at times much worse than going into central London, this puts me off more than the distance. Give it ago, it still beats the tube by a mile.
  • I went from 9 mile commute (flat) to a 16mile commute with 1000ft of climbing. Thought I'd cope with it fine and in some respects I do but I get pretty tired and it effects my focus at work occasionally.

    The biggest change for me was the type of roads and general behaviour of motorists the further from London you go. Commuting now from Brentford to Watford can be stressful at times much worse than going into central London, this puts me off more than the distance. Give it ago, it still beats the tube by a mile.

    You'll be fine when there is light... in the dark, best avoided
  • asprillaasprilla Posts: 8,440
    I went from 9 mile commute (flat) to a 16mile commute with 1000ft of climbing. Thought I'd cope with it fine and in some respects I do but I get pretty tired and it effects my focus at work occasionally.

    The biggest change for me was the type of roads and general behaviour of motorists the further from London you go. Commuting now from Brentford to Watford can be stressful at times much worse than going into central London, this puts me off more than the distance. Give it ago, it still beats the tube by a mile.

    You'll be fine when there is light... in the dark, best avoided

    But if you could see Watford from a distance you'd probably turn back. Dark is better.
    Mud - Genesis Vapour CCX
    Race - Fuji Norcom Straight
    Sun - Cervelo R3
    Winter / Commute - Dolan ADX
  • cruffcruff Posts: 1,518
    I did Reigate to Oxford St (about 40k each way) for 18 months 2-3 times a week, then did Croydon to Oxford St (about 18k each way) for six months almost every day and am now back to the sort of distance I did before (Buckshaw to Manchester (about 42k each way).

    To add to all the observations above - it's perfectly doable, even 50k each way, but will take time getting used to the longer distance. The first few times I did Reigate to London and back it almost killed me. But it only really took a couple of months to get used to it. If you're training for anything, use it as part of your training schedule - you'll find that it quickly becomes base miles rather than the uphill struggle it seems at first. Bonus - if you do it three times a week, you'll be able to smash the granny out of any weekend riding you do because your power will increase dramatically (provided you give it some welly on the commute rather than Pootling along)

    I really enjoy my commutes up here, despite the weather being pretty bloody awful compared to down south. The extra distance flies by before you know it.

    Oh - one more thing. Porridge is your friend :)
    Fat chopper. Some racing. Some testing. Some crashing.
    Specialising in Git Daaahns and Cafs. Norvern Munkey/Transplanted Laaandoner.
  • daddy0daddy0 Posts: 686
    I went from a 14 mile round trip to 50 miles earlier this year. The distance is fine, its the climbing that gets me - 3000ft a day! I find it hard to do 5 days a week, but I reckon if it was under 20 miles, and/or less hilly, I'd be fine. I reckon 15-20 miles each way is a perfect distance for commuting by cycle, should take less than an hour and you can always add on extra distance if you feel like it.

    Some of this stuff has already been said, but here are my top tips:

    Get a road bike, but keep the hybrid - thats what I did. I did ride the hybrid quite a bit when the bad weather started, but eventually I put guards on the road bike and now I ride that all the time - its quicker and comfier and these things are important if you have a big commute. Deffo consider disc brakes, I've not got them but if I had the spare cash for a new bike a disc brake equipped road bike is top of the list.

    Go to bed early, sleep as much as possible.

    Don't go as fast as you can every day. Take it easy on Mondays, if you have some energy left come Friday use it then.

    Stay hydrated - drink lots of water, especially after each ride.

    Stretching helps, not that I ever remember to do it.

    Have a set of kit for each day you're going to commute to save having to worry about washing it every other day.

    Mudguards and overshoes are a must.

    Two sets of lights is a must.

    I carry 2 inner tubes, you can get away with one and a PRK, but the day you get 2 (or more) p*******s you'll be grateful. I also use CO2, and I take 3 canisters.

    I leave the following at work: enough clothes for a week or more, inner tube(s), CO2 canisters, batteries, usb charging cables for lights. My bike stays in my office, but if you have to lock yours up then leave the lock at work.

    Don't be put off by bad weather, just leave more time for the journey.

    Always eat breakfast before you leave in the morning. Use the toilet before you leave.

    Eat something like a banana a short while before leaving the office and drink plenty of water.

    Keep an eye on your brake blocks and replace tyres when they are worn - always have spares of things like this. In fact, have spares of anything that will stop you from being able to use the bike - i.e. brake/gear cables, chain, wheel bearings etc...

    Consider getting a spare set of wheels - replacing a wheel is a lot quicker than a tube if you find you've had an overnight p******e.

    Clean your bike once a week and lube the drive train. You can get away with doing it less frequently, but the components will last longer and it will be more efficient.

    Try different routes out. Makes things more interesting, and you might find a better way. Sometimes longer and flatter is better than shorter and steeper, sometimes not.

    Best piece of advice someone on here gave me: try to remain zen. Don't let bad/aggressive drivers upset you, you're not in the same race as them!

    Good luck! :D
  • Blimey - I'm exhausted just reading DaddyO's post - suffice it to say I didn't do half of those things! :wink:
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • I think it depends on the amount of climbing you do and what you have to do when you get to work. I've managed about 18-20 miles e/w on rolling terrain, now 14 on very hilly terrain. Its a little bit harder now.

    For me, more than this starts to errode energy for the working day and, crucially, for the weekend. I do a fairly intense legal job.

    When I was a grad student (albeit younger) I needed less energy for work and I could dedicate more to sports. Much more recently, I had a somewhat less intense professional job and again, I had more energy left over.

    Its a balance.

    You have to have a viable alternative. This could be part-drive part-cycle. In crappy weather (ice, usually) I will drive as far as the traffic and cycle the rest. Its about the same time and still way quicker than the bus.
  • post your route up on here - you will get good tips. Shortest is not always best. Identify parts of the route that are safe for racing and others where you just need to be patient.
  • rower63rower63 Posts: 1,991
    One other thing, I have 3 suits that live at work, and 2 pairs of shoes. I take all the week's shirts and smalls in on Monday, and all the used stuff back on Friday. The other 8 rides are all rucksack-free, which is really nice. Easy for me being a man with few outfits that can stay at work for ever, but might be a bit more difficult for you as a woman.
    Dolan Titanium ADX 2016
    Ridley Noah FAST 2013
    Bottecchia/Campagnolo 1990
    Carrera Parva Hybrid 2016
    Hoy Sa Calobra 002 2014 [off duty]
    Storck Absolutist 2011 [off duty]
    http://www.slidingseat.net/cycling/cycling.html
  • +1 to the disc brakes (hydraulic if possible) and full mudguards - the longer the better.

    can't really add much to the advice already given. The fact you already do half that distance is good. This will be a step up but not so bad as starting from scratch as I did. And yeah, your fitness will go through the roof! :)
  • daddy0daddy0 Posts: 686
    Blimey - I'm exhausted just reading DaddyO's post - suffice it to say I didn't do half of those things! :wink:

    Yeah, I don't practice all of what I preach to be honest but when I do these things I do notice that the commute is easier. My commute is probably a little tougher than that of the OPs will be, so he needn't let my overly long post worry him/her. :)
  • rower63 wrote:
    One other thing, I have 3 suits that live at work, and 2 pairs of shoes. I take all the week's shirts and smalls in on Monday, and all the used stuff back on Friday. The other 8 rides are all rucksack-free, which is really nice. Easy for me being a man with few outfits that can stay at work for ever, but might be a bit more difficult for you as a woman.

    I feel very silly as I ship stuff in and out daily. I feel very silly :oops:
  • rower63 wrote:
    One other thing, I have 3 suits that live at work, and 2 pairs of shoes. I take all the week's shirts and smalls in on Monday, and all the used stuff back on Friday. The other 8 rides are all rucksack-free, which is really nice. Easy for me being a man with few outfits that can stay at work for ever, but might be a bit more difficult for you as a woman.

    I feel very silly as I ship stuff in and out daily. I feel very silly :oops:

    To be fair thats only possible if you have space at work to store all your clothes and ideally if this space is near the shower/changing room. I leave my trainers at my desk otherwise all my clothes come with me.
  • post your route up on here - you will get good tips. Shortest is not always best. Identify parts of the route that are safe for racing and others where you just need to be patient.

    Too right - and experiment a bit. I wish I'd done far more of this but we become creatures if habit. When I finally tried so significant alternatives, they became my favourites.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • rower63rower63 Posts: 1,991
    rower63 wrote:
    One other thing, I have 3 suits that live at work, and 2 pairs of shoes. I take all the week's shirts and smalls in on Monday, and all the used stuff back on Friday. The other 8 rides are all rucksack-free, which is really nice. Easy for me being a man with few outfits that can stay at work for ever, but might be a bit more difficult for you as a woman.
    I feel very silly as I ship stuff in and out daily. I feel very silly :oops:
    It only struck me a year or so ago, so it took me 24 years to learn! It was when someone on here said something like "...and it was ATG's rucksack day..." that it twigged. I also felt silly at that point. The first few rucksack-free rides felt oddly liberating.
    Dolan Titanium ADX 2016
    Ridley Noah FAST 2013
    Bottecchia/Campagnolo 1990
    Carrera Parva Hybrid 2016
    Hoy Sa Calobra 002 2014 [off duty]
    Storck Absolutist 2011 [off duty]
    http://www.slidingseat.net/cycling/cycling.html
  • rhodrichrhodrich Posts: 866
    14 miles for me each way - 17 if I'm working at my City offices, on a steel framed road bike in the Summer (with clip on mudguards), and a steel framed touring bike for the winter (fatter tyres, full length mudguards, and dynamo lights)

    Every day is a rucksack free day for me. As soon as I bought a Carradice, I never looked back! I guess it is a bit silly shipping a pair of shoes back and forth, but with a saddlebag, you barely notice it's there. The beauty of the 'Bagman' that I have is that it makes the saddlebag quick release, and can be moved over from bike to bike with little more than a twiddle of an Allen key.

    I'd advise getting a High Pressure frame pump instead of CO2 cannisters. Far more reliable.
    I'd also advise getting some dynamo lights. No need to have 2 pairs then, and no need for faffing about with batteries/chargers etc.
    1938 Hobbs Tandem
    1956 Carlton Flyer Path/Track
    1960 Mercian Superlight Track
    1974 Pete Luxton Path/Track*
    1980 Harry Hall
    1986 Dawes Galaxy
    1988 Jack Taylor Tourer
    1988 Pearson
    1989 Condor
    1993 Dawes Hybrid
    2016 Ridley Helium SL
    *Currently on this
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