Forum home Commuter cycling forum Commuting chat

Longer commutes

kingdavkingdav Posts: 416
edited July 2018 in Commuting chat
How far is far?

Inspired by a bit of chat in the SCR thread I decided to do a longer ride than I normally do today and cycle all the way from home to work which is about 29 miles and includes a chunky climb. I know from experience that if I do there and back more than a couple of times in a week I struggle to concentrate at work or stay awake in the evening. If I halve the distance using the car for the rest making it a 28 mile mostly flat round trip I can sustain it, keep going during the week and get a decent weekend club ride in.

How long a commute is viable? How best to build up capacity?
«1345

Posts

  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    Basically it massively depends on the person and the intensity of the ride, rather than duration.

    A few years ago I was commuting 7 miles each way, but doing 2 hours hard training rides before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well. I would be totally wiped out in the office and half asleep by midday. Sometime I did only 1h and sometimes I didn't go at all. Oddly, in the evenings I would usually be fine as I'd perk up again around 3pm, so it didn't impact on my social life.

    I don't think it's really the distance which is killer, its the time/ intensity spent riding, and fitting that in with real life (i.e early mornings or late nights).

    Last night, for example, that 51 miles I rode isn't that far in the grand scheme of things, but I left London at 5.30 and wanted to get home so pushed quite hard and once I got out of London which took about 45 mins, it was 2h of pretty hard riding all the way to the front door and I was shattered. There is a bit of pressure to get a move on to get to work at a reasonable time but also to get home to the family.
    To get out again this morning would have meant a 5am start and then I would be broken again.

    If you can ride at your own pace then you can probably do it more often, but you would need incredibly flexible working conditions to be able to take your time over such a long journey.
  • frogonabikefrogonabike Posts: 157
    Shirley, do you ride in one day and home the next? I can see that working as I wfh on Wednesdays so that should give me a bit more sleep before doing it again! I've recently moved further out so mine would be about 50 miles from home but I've yet to ride all the way... I am tempted to try it tomorrow though

    I get what you mean about the intensity vs distance. If I can drag myself out of bed early enough then I'd like to allow a good 3.5-4 hours which should make it relatively easy going. I also have Leith Hill to get over which should be a laugh! :twisted:


    Edit: Kingdav, I think you may go a similar way to me so if you fancy some company on the longer jaunt...
  • Prawny on here churns out the commuting miles and elevation most weeks via commuting, ~99 miles and ~5100 feet so far this week, I'm not sure if I would want to ride much for pleasure at any time after that much effort in half a week!
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    I find that my body does generally get used to varying commutes.

    By mid summer last year, I'd do 60km before work 3 times a week and often 60km after too if it was sunny, either through laps of London parks or heading out into Kent/Surrey after work.

    However if I was to go straight from my 12km commute each way to doing that I'd be dead.

    It is possible to do 100km a day and not be knackered. If you're fit enough. Make sure you get to bed at a sensible time, and if you're feeling knackered don't ride.
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    I don't think that's entirely fair Nitrous - that's about 15 miles each way which is basically one hour of riding. I have done 2 one way journeys and was on 115miles last night.

    My commute is basically from Cambridge train station to Bank, between 50 and 55 miles each way. My plan is to ride one way, once per week, train the other days and work from home on Friday. I ride in on Tuesday morning (get up at 5, leave at 5.30) and then head home on Weds (clock off at 5, out by 5.15).

    I only moved over the Easter weekend so has been a bit of a pain getting everything set up but I was pretty much there from my London daily commuting so just had to make sure I had an extra inner tube and some patches.

    So far I've only ridden it once each way, obviously, but I think I'll stick to taking the scenic route inbound (a few miles longer) and the faster route home.

    I think it would be a struggle to do it twice a week (mon-tues and thurs-fri), and I wouldn't be too happy about arriving home at 8.30/9pm on Fridays. Plus there is always something that will come up and scupper plans, meaning you may end up with a bike stuck in London.

    My one way idea means I can choose the outbound journey based on the best weather at the start of the week, ideally a stiff N'ly
  • smokey_baconsmokey_bacon Posts: 1,637
    How far is far is a difficult question. Shirley is proving that abit of planning and application means you can make it doable within striking distance of work or home. For me Im looking to move west of London and ive set a 20 mile limit for riding each way (up from approx 6 miles e/w now) because anything more than that would require more rest days/not riding weekends etc. which is based on my fitness level and desire to not spend too much time on the bike or a tonne of money on trains so I have to strike a balance somewhere.

    This bit sounds like the start of an N+1 arguement......
    Plus there is always something that will come up and scupper plans, meaning you may end up with a bike stuck in London.
  • frogonabikefrogonabike Posts: 157
    Yeah there is always something to get in the way of riding plans! Silly life things... That's sounds like a reasonably sensible plan you have there

    My main reason is also the balance of tiredness/time/money - train all the way is just over £50 per day which makes me feel a bit sick so I've only done it once!

    N+1 brompton has been searched for a few times recently
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    Jesus what's your commute frog!?
  • frogonabikefrogonabike Posts: 157
    Jesus what's your commute frog!?

    Billingshurst -> Camden

    It's insane how expensive it is for a 1hr train! Only short ish term hopefully so I'm grateful I moved as the clocks changed! Plan is to be a bit closer by the time they go back again...
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    Hang on, you're commuting 50 miles each way, every day, from Sussex to N London?

    I'm lucky that it's around £25 return so the train isn't such a bad alternative.
  • kingdavkingdav Posts: 416
    I am interested to see what others have been able to sustain. Obviously the weather, knackerdity, fullness of gas vs. pootling, work flexibility and route topology are all variables that have a part to play.

    I'm always up for a group ride frogonabike, so do get in touch if you fancy it sometime.

    I'll probably do the double today and ride all the way home, partly because of the N+1 bike thing. The way my bike parking is at work we have permits and although mine mentions several bikes so I can ride in on the summer bike like today one day and the mudguard warrior another I can't display it on two bikes at the same time. With my part car, part cycle commute, if I just decide to ride all the way home one day, I'm basically committed to cycling all the way in the following day and have to leave my car in Croydon over night.

    Seems like the key to this is to be able to pick and choose - treat yourself to a long ride when you want to. So if you are knackered or don't have time there's a bail out option in not doing the laps or the full distance.
  • frogonabikefrogonabike Posts: 157
    Hang on, you're commuting 50 miles each way, every day, from Sussex to N London?

    I'm lucky that it's around £25 return so the train isn't such a bad alternative.

    Yup! Well only 4 days :wink:

    It is pretty killer and if it does turn into anything more than 6 months it may be new job time. Or if I can just get used to doing 100 miles 4 days a week then it may do my (currently non existent) racing some good!
  • kingdavkingdav Posts: 416
    Bloomin'eck! I hadn't realised that's what you were doing.

    It's cheaper for me to drive and park in Purley than get the train up there btw, worth looking at.
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    Hang on, you're commuting 50 miles each way, every day, from Sussex to N London?

    I'm lucky that it's around £25 return so the train isn't such a bad alternative.

    Yup! Well only 4 days :wink:

    It is pretty killer and if it does turn into anything more than 6 months it may be new job time. Or if I can just get used to doing 100 miles 4 days a week then it may do my (currently non existent) racing some good!

    Well that is some serious mileage. Nice work. I like to think of myself as a young whippersnapper at 31 but that would destroy me. Will see how we go by the end of the summer, but I'm not overly hopeful. Maybe do a round trip over summer solstice or something.
  • The data I have seen suggests average commutes of 5Km (3miles) on normal bikes and 10Km on electric. I believe the electric bike is the way to sustain longer distances.
    I like the idea of park and pedal. Like you said with good planning you can find a nicer route(less hills), get some exercise and do the journey in the same time as other modes. The bikes are comparable for speed in most UK city centres and parking is usually closer. Just need a fast transition.
  • warrengwarreng Posts: 535
    I'm doing an hour each way (32 miles round trip) about 3-4 times a week. I deliberately don't buy a season ticket as I'd be more lazy and get PT and I begrudge giving SW Rail money. I try to avoid really crappy conditions - I don't mind weekend rides in the wet but the A24 is grim enough when the sun shines

    It does impinge on my weekend jollies - I can't do Sundays cos of kid's football and Saturdays I struggle with energy/motivation

    I'm not that fit so I'd draw the line at 90 minutes I think
    2015 Cervelo S3
    2016 Santa Cruz 5010
    2016 Genesis Croix de Fer
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,146
    warreng wrote:
    I'm doing an hour each way (32 miles round trip) about 3-4 times a week. I deliberately don't buy a season ticket as I'd be more lazy and get PT and I begrudge giving SW Rail money. I try to avoid really crappy conditions - I don't mind weekend rides in the wet but the A24 is grim enough when the sun shines

    It does impinge on my weekend jollies - I can't do Sundays cos of kid's football and Saturdays I struggle with energy/motivation

    I'm not that fit so I'd draw the line at 90 minutes I think

    my commute is fair bit less 24 mile round trip, but it's not tiring mainly due to speed or lack of it, I don't change as i don't warm much up, or sweat.

    I think much more than a hr 30 would start to get tedious possibly though for myself its faster than all but the car and less tedious than all.
  • thistle_(mbnw)thistle_(mbnw) Posts: 3,508
    kingdav wrote:
    I am interested to see what others have been able to sustain. Obviously the weather, knackerdity, fullness of gas vs. pootling, work flexibility and route topology are all variables that have a part to play.
    5 years ago I did 20 miles each way 4 days a week in the summer, 5 days in a row at one point while car was getting fixed.
    I used to enjoy it back then, and parking at work was difficult (one of those offices for 500 people but only 50 parking spaces).

    Now I typically do ~10 miles each way 3 days a week (drive half way, ride half way), sometimes extend the ride home a bit. I just don't enjoy it, but it's better than driving all the way and sitting in traffic.

    Average is 18-19 mph on my road bike, I just ride as fast as I comfortably can.

    If you enjoy the riding, long distances are easier.
    My main reason is also the balance of tiredness/time/money - train all the way is just over £50 per day which makes me feel a bit sick so I've only done it once!
    N+1 brompton has been searched for a few times recently
    Have you played around with the train fares to see if you get the train part way it's disproportionately cheaper? Billinghshurst-Croydon seems to be more than 50% of the way but less than 50% of the cost?

  • Yup! Well only 4 days :wink:

    It is pretty killer and if it does turn into anything more than 6 months it may be new job time. Or if I can just get used to doing 100 miles 4 days a week then it may do my (currently non existent) racing some good!

    Good work! If you want to break that up look for free car parks on the A24 you'll find a few, one just by Leatherhead, Nonsuch, Morden if you want to go that far. Zip up to there, get bike out and halve the distance if you're not feeling it.

    & Leith is on my current commute but it's only 12.5 miles so a different ball game entirely. Only advice would be easy gear & spin it! I can't remember the last time I even came close to my PB on a commute, years ago certainly, just don't worry about it, spin the 34 x 30 no one is watching :D
  • Ricky hRicky h Posts: 119
    Interesting discussion that prompted me to look at what I had done during a working week and I find that 200 miles a week is about the extent of my range (in summer) and then I drop off. Obviously there are a huge number of variables including wind, temperature , working week, family commitments. It's the recovery that I find toughest and fatigue really does take hold these days. Obviously if you could form a "commute train peleton" you could extend the range but it would take some coordination
  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,176
    is it possible? Yes definitely.

    Can you go from almost nothing (comparatively) to mahoosive commutes? No, you need to build up to it.

    As above, it all depends on so many factors that to rely on it for your daily commute would likely cause a number of issues.

    It's best to have it in the locker for high days and holidays and use it when you feel good, weather is good, you aren't pushed for time or you are short of a few bob and want to save on the train fare.

    EDIT: A guy in my office regularly cycle-commutes into Canary Wharf from Chelmsford which is errr...let me check Strava, 50km each way. Another guy I know comes in from St Albans which is 40km each way. Both do it all year round and three to four times a week minimum.
    FCN = 4
  • frogonabikefrogonabike Posts: 157
    Yeah I do park up somewhere between Ashtead and North Cheam to get it down to 15-20 miles each way which is far more palatable :) Nice not to use the car at all though, I did the full length this morning (under 50 miles in the end, 45.7 to be precise) and can confirm the sunrise was lovely! Felt like the S word had started already..

    and I do need to look at the trains some more, I'm sure there must be a way of getting within 15 ish miles for under £20 but that would also mean getting a Brompton (or others if anyone has any recommendations?!) but they start at £1k new which seems a little OTT for a temporary setup. I could buy used and sell it for very little loss I'm sure but the N+1 thing has been my downfall over the years so my N is already so many!! I will look at this one some more though
  • kingdavkingdav Posts: 416
    I tried to use the train part way for a few months rather than the car, but there were some downsides.
    1. Exposed to Southern Railway delays and cancellations
    2. Had to choose between folder or beater to lock up at the station. I bought a beater for £56 and made it run nicely enough, but it was still a bind being on a jalopy. I didn't fancy 30 mile a day on a brompton, nor the start-up cost
    3. Waiting around for trains was a chore even if they were running to time. Worst was the evening, standing around damp with exertion on the platform got chilly even on not so cold days.
    4. Inflicting my sweaty self on other commuters on the train didn't feel good
    5. Maintenance was a pain, had to plan late trips when I needed to get the bike home to avoid the train company rules on transporting full size bike.

    I'm so much happier nowadays with 14 miles each way in the car (big estate seats all down with tarp/load liner to avoid ruining the car.
  • j_mcdj_mcd Posts: 470
    I do a 'reasonably' long commute each day.

    I live just outside Guildford so on a winters day my commute would be...
    - 2.5 miles to the station
    - Train from Guildford to Effingham
    - 29 miles to Canary Wharf

    But on the cycle back I just go to Waterloo and put the bike on the train so in total my daily commute is around 40 miles but it's really skewed to the morning.

    In the summer I just cycle all the way in so it's about 45 miles into Canary Wharf. Once again, I VERY rarely cycle back and I tend to only do it 4 days a week, taking off Wednesday.

    The skew to the morning is mainly because it's 'my time'. I leave early, the kids and wife are asleep and I'm not affecting any family time. The evening is more difficult due to bedtime and bath time and all that kind of thing.

    On the whole, the longer distances are doable but sometimes I question why I'm doing it. Normally when it's wet and cold to be honest. Over time they just become 'normal' in the end.
    Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
    Planet X London Road - Wet
    Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    How do you get your bike back on the train each day?

    I would happily take your approach and ride in most mornings but I can't get my bike home on PT during rush hour.
  • j_mcdj_mcd Posts: 470
    How do you get your bike back on the train each day?

    I would happily take your approach and ride in most mornings but I can't get my bike home on PT during rush hour.

    Lucky with the trains I guess. The Portsmouth/Haslemere trains are normally OK to get a bike onto and just sit with it in a doorway. Guildford is the first or second stop so you don't really block anything. From what I remember of the Cambridge trains, they're more like an Intercity and so no room for storing anything!

    They did get a bit shirty about it a while back which is why I bought a Montague but everything has calmed down now and I've had no trouble for a couple of years.

    When there are delays and the train is packed then you have an issue though. You've just got to wait it out or leave the bike at work!
    Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
    Planet X London Road - Wet
    Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    It is pretty killer and if it does turn into anything more than 6 months it may be new job time. Or if I can just get used to doing 100 miles 4 days a week then it may do my (currently non existent) racing some good!
    In 2011 I did a 42 mile round trip commute from September to December (I knew it was just for a few months when I started it). I never did a full 5 days, always managing to break it up with days off, working from home, or stopping over with mates nearer work. I had lofty hopes that it would kick start my triathlon season for the following year with some great fitness. In reality I didn't do any other training at all because I was tired, and by the end of it I was really good at riding 20 miles at a steady pace twice a day! I enjoyed it, but I was glad when it ended too.

    Your experience may be completely different, but that was mine :)
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    My findings from last week is that my legs ached a little but evidently I was not as tired as I thought as I still felt good enough to beat my Wednesday evening tailwind assisted Strava PRs from my commute home on the Friday afternoon when I went for a 40 mile ride.

    I am not sure I could stomach doing 4x55 miles midweek though, simply due to the early starts would have on me. By the weekend I wouldn't be up for an enjoyable ride and I wouldn't get much chance to do a gentle spin to loosen up midweek, and that would only be 4 one-way journeys. That said, I am newly married and no doubt children and life etc will mean that the long commute is all I get to do!

    As for the 20 miles steady pace, I found that commuting in London you do lose about 10 miles in traffic virtually regardless of where you come in from so it's hard to smash it unless you do intervals between the lights. I would agree that this type of riding would be useless for racing, unless you wanted a ridiculously strong base.

    On the way home is where you can enjoy it, possibly the opening inbound miles if you like early mornings.
  • prawnyprawny Posts: 5,402
    Hello!

    I see I got a nod up thread, always makes me happy :)

    My commute is a 40 mile round trip +/- half a mile depending on route and I do it every day more or less. I've had a few days off over the winter this year with equipment failure, illness, weather and being hit by a car but by the time the summer comes I normally ride 5 commutes and a early morning MTB ride at the weekend (sometimes one before work too if there's nothing I need to catch up on TV wise).

    I don't think I'd want to go much further though to be honest. We were looking at moving house and saw a nice one 29 miles from work, but I'd be looking at 4 hours commuting every day nearly, I think I'd have to have more rest days.

    It's not mountainous round here but it's not flat though either, so maybe if it was flatter I'd be happy to go further, but flatness brings wind, and that's no fun at all.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,024
    Found a buddy this morning so managed to share the work at times but also have someone who actually knew the way.

    Didn't help that I ended up getting completely lost once I got into London. North London is not my area of expertise.
Sign In or Register to comment.