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"16.4 miles commute? Are u nuts?"

AzharAzhar Posts: 247
edited April 2013 in Commuting general
As the title of this topic says; it'ss the reaction I've got from a few of my colleagues when I put forth the notion of me commuting to work. I have a decent road bike but a little bit intimadated about the distance. I don't know if that distance might just be too far and I should stick to driving. I'm also worried about my bulky weight, I,m 16 stone. But determined to save money, be green and generally see the health benefits of commuting.

So, is 16.4 miles each way commute doable? Will my weight cause me any problems? Anyone know travel a similar distance? How long doEs it take?

Sorry for all the questions. Have a nice day.


  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    Depends on your commute ie hilly or flat, or somewhere in between.

    The short answer is that it's very doable - folks in here do that mileage and more - so don't be intimidated. Just build up gently, doing two or three days a week to start with. You'll soon be hooked.

    Make sure your tyres are in good nick, and that you carry spare tubes etc.
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
  • littleprawnlittleprawn Posts: 135
    cjcp wrote:
    Depends on your commute ie hilly or flat, or somewhere in between.

    The short answer is that it's very doable - folks in here do that mileage and more - so don't be intimidated. Just build up gently, doing two or three days a week to start with. You'll soon be hooked.

    Make sure your tyres are in good nick, and that you carry spare tubes etc.

    +1 Cannot agree more!

    My distance (which I started before Easter this year) is 13-14 miles and takes ~an hour on a CX using 35 mm tyres. Just phase the commute initially and do not take too 'bold' steps. For myself, once the weather and fitness improves, I aim to commute twice a week. Make sure you practice the 'commute route' over a weekend and I always carry a spare tube, min pump etc....

    For me, the commute represents freedom in open air (being couped up in an office all day) and also it helps when I cannot do any cycling in the weekend and because I enjoy it. I have to admit, I have done less than 5 whole commutes and initially the first few does tire you out. Be sensible and listen to your body.

    Let us know how it goes....
    Cannondale CAADX 5 105
    Trek T10
  • shouldbeinbedshouldbeinbed Posts: 2,660
    +lots to the above its plenty doable, 16mph average and it'll be an hour give or take which is easily within the range of a decent road bike.

    People who don't cycle will suggest you're mad no matter what distance you do, whenever it rains, if its a bit cold, if you have a story of a minor off or close call with a car, if they see a bad bit of cycling or driving involving a cyclist, every time there's a media article on cycling, if they see you in your cycling gear, whenever they're a bit bored etc etc etc. In short get used to people with no idea foisting their invariably misguided opinions on you, best thing to do is ignore them all and do your own thing regardless.
  • Very doable but as others have said, build up weekly mileage slowly.
    I used to do a 30 mile round trip commute 5 days a week. As I worked a split shift I would go home at least once a week so this built up to 60 miles in one day over 4 journeys. On sunny days I used to take the long way home.

    I would say - ensure that you have decent cycling kit if you haven't already - I started cycling in the winter in ordinary day clothes. It didn't work too well so I built up a wardrobe of cycling wear that is far more comfortable. Padded shorts, windproof jacket, base layers etc.
    I started riding a Halfords chocolate teapot that cost £80 and cycling in work boots. Again not too hot an idea. I damaged my knee quite badly so I moved over to decent cycling shoes, bought a good quality road bike, had it set up for me and got to the point of looking at my bike longingly all the time.

    Sad I know. Hope you enjoy your commutes.
  • I do 19 miles each way on a cx bike i started at 19 stone in July, ride time was about 1hr 20, not ridden for a couple months ( loft conversion take the energy now lol). I planned my commute to take about 2hrs this was added puncture wind wash and rest time before work LOL. I am now at an average of about 1hr5 but still leave about an 1hr30 to ride in.
    That reaction is the norm with non riding colleges
    Proper gear under baggys if worried makes the difference
    Not that bad but bad enough for me
  • mouthmouth Posts: 1,195
    Would echo the build it up the miles as you go along. Maybe drive the car halfway and get the bike out at that point for a few days. Also ride in one way and get the bus home and then the reverse the next day. Make sure you've got spare gear such as tubes, a pump etc. I'm quite lucky cos my commute is only about 4 miles so don't carry much but I've had to run to work cx style a time or two.

    If you have a locker/spare desk drawer etc it's probably an idea to keep stuff like a spare shirt, folding tyre, really good hand cleaner like swarfega. Some guys keep latex gloves in their carry kit to save the mess with chain/tyre problems.

    The fact you're 16st is no boundary. As for time, at least 1hr 30 mins.

    Don't be scared to take a day off for instance if the weather is real bad etc.
    The only disability in life is a poor attitude.
  • AzharAzhar Posts: 247
    Many thanks for the replies folks. I have been practicing part of the commute by doing 10 miles and then turning around and going straight back home. to be honest, as i am new to this, i have a very basic idea of how to repair a puncture (by watching clips on youtube) but my time doing the 10 miles has been very long. going towards work, its very hilly. but coming back i'd be coasting most of the way. but thats what the gears on the bike are for and well, as long as i leave in good time, as the advice above has given me, then i dont think it will be too bad.

    i really appreciate the replies. gets me really motivated and will post another topic on here when i finally do the 16.4 miles there and back :D

    have a nice day.
  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    I did 32.75 miles including ~1250 ft climbed yesterday, it took 2 hours 12 minutes with a stop for a drink.

    If you're new to it, have lots of hills in the way or have a slowish bike allow 1h20m to start with. Maybe you could do a dry run first.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • RiggaRigga Posts: 939
    Im in the same boat mate with a 15 mile commute each way, but i work 12 hr shifts so it would make it a long day with the commute, i would have to get up at 4.45am on days and wouldn't get home til about 8pm. When on nights it wouldn't be so much of a problem as it just means setting off earlier in the afternoon, although cycling home in the morning after a 12hr night shift might not be much fun!
  • taff..taff.. Posts: 81
    I'm the same weight as you, and started commuting a couple of times a week back in Jan. my aim is to cycle 3000 miles this year. so far I'm up to 935. my 15.5 mile commute is pretty flat and is taking me about 55 mins at the moment and I've worked up to doing it 3 times pw.

    just do it, if you don't push yourself your motivation will fizzle away.

    maybe give it another week for the wind and rain to settle though :mrgreen:
  • RiggaRigga Posts: 939
    taff.. wrote:

    maybe give it another week for the wind and rain to settle though :mrgreen:

    Another month you mean! (for the rain at least)
  • GSVBagpussGSVBagpuss Posts: 271
    Mine's only 16.2 ew so I hope I'm man enough to chip in ... :)

    It's not so far, you'll very quickly get used to it. I thought it would be way too much for me but the fourth or fifth time I barely felt it in my legs. You'll be amazed what the body can adapt to :D
  • PessablePessable Posts: 32
    I do my 14-miles each way commute on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which means that each time I'm pretty fresh and raring to go on cycling days but also enjoy the simplicity and rest on the other three days. It also means that I'm pretty fresh for "free" rides at weekends. I normally ride about 80-120 miles a week, but sometimes life (work, kids, illness) gets in the way and it's important not to get stressed by that and turn cycling into a chore which is why I don't see myself ever regularly increasing to more than twice a week for the commute.

    I also keep going all through the Winter barring extreme weather (done light snow but ice isn't fun on my country lanes). As the saying goes, there's no wrong weather, only the wrong gear. I was averaging about 15mph but have put on weight (BMI now 37 :shock: ) and it's now about 11mph! I've just bought a training book now to try and get my speed back up and get some weight off - it's easy to fall into the habit of just plodding along especially during the dark commutes of Winter.

    Just do it, but take care to enjoy it.
  • daxplusplusdaxplusplus Posts: 631
    I've got a longer commute @ 23 miles (and probably more hills too) but only do it upto a max of 3 times a week. I also have the choice of a car or m/c if I don't feel like it.

    So physically the distance should be fine - you just have to build up to it.

    Echo the sentiments about having the right kit. The way I did it was - dont splash out on stuff until you know what you want and why. So for me that meant starting on my old rockhopper (pretty light actually as it has a small frame and no suspension) and the bare mimumim = slicks and toolkit (puncture repair kit and pump).

    Quickly realised that I wanted/needed: padded shorts :-)

    Soon after that I started to lower the handlebars to get more aero becuase I cottoned on to the fact I could get free speed/easier ride just by changing my position on the bike .. soon after that realised I wanted/needed proper road bike with drops.

    I started in Summer and so when Autumn arrived realised that I needed better clothes (comfort - combat sweating and the cold) and spds+shoes (falling off wet, slippy pedals and even managing to wrap a shoe lace around a pedal). I also needed some good lights (XM-L handtorches and magicshine rear lights - all duplicated in case of failure so I will always have a backup) to both see where i was going and to be seen.

    Then Winter happened - bloody cold (though dry so not complaining) - so bought yet more clothes; wind proof jacket, neck warmer, loads of gloves (hard to find ones that worked in really cold weather) and my favourite possesion - overshoes. Oh yeah and some crud racer mudguards - to save my rear lights from a drowning (they do get soaked if you don't have mudguards and that's killed a rear light) and saves me from having to wash the bike everyday.

    In the first year I've spent maybe £800 on all the kit and saved maybe £600 on petrol (havent included wear and tear on the car, just working out saving on petrol)

    ..and as of two weeks time, I'll be starting my second year :-)

    Good luck - spend time on choosing your route(s), don't rush to buy your kit until you know why you want it.
    Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail

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  • bails87bails87 Posts: 12,999
    I used to do 15 miles in and 19 on the way home ~3 times a week.

    Now I've got an 11.5 mile each way journey, which I do more often. 16 miles isn't short, but it's doable. Just build up, maybe do it on say Tuesday and Friday, leaving a change of clothes at the office the day before so you're carrying as little as possible. Make sure you've got decent lights, the necessary clothing, a multitool, tube(s) and know how to fix a puncture, and go for it.

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • 17.5 miles each way every day - started last November on a crappy hybrid - took improved, bought a road bike, now disappointed if I take over an hour. First 6 weeks was the hardest - won't go back to pt for as long as I can ride now!
  • AzharAzhar Posts: 247
    Thanks for the additional replies. really helpful stuff. i have actually saved some of the comments on here that will help motivate me and i truly thank you all. :D cant wait to do it but i really gotta work on my fitness. its very really very poor
  • vs4bvs4b Posts: 257
    Certainly doable. I do 25 miles each way but in a slightly odd way. I drive in then bike home on monday, bike to work Tuesday and drive home. Same deal on thur / fri gets me 4 x 25 miles a week which is perfect right now. The prob with doing both wys is it takes so long to do o top of working one way ech day is less of an impact on home life. Also means never having hassle with transporting clothes laptops etc.

    Oh yeah, I'm closer to 19 st than 18... After. Few weeks people top complaining about the Lycra gear, although most people think I'm nuts.

    Get on with it and have fun!
  • keefsloankeefsloan Posts: 29
    Lots of great advice in the above posts. I'll happily put my 2p into the pot...I do a 16 mile each way commute, with two hills (Kingston hill and Roehampton Vale on the way in, Putney Hill and Kingston Hill on the way back). Road bike takes me under an hour, and on the MTB (which has a rack and I can carry stuff, plus good disc brakes if it's raining) it takes me about 1hr 10. Usually 3 days a week although, when I had to drop the engine from my m/c for a rebuild (let the oil run low. Doh!), I did it for a full 5 days, and that included one day when I did an hours boxing and 1 day when I did 2 hours martial arts training. That was a tough week! Anyway, for me the hardest part when I started was the mental challenge not the physical one. 16 miles is a long way to commute in via car, but by bike it was daunting. But here's the thing - do it once and the knowledge that you CAN do it means that everything else becomes irrelevant. The next time, you've got little landmarks that you recognise from the previous ride ("...I know that this hill flattens out when I reach the zebra crossing, and that's only another 200m away"). All of a sudden "daunting" becomes a word that you used BEFORE you did the ride for the first time. Now the word is CHALLENGING. And, before you know it, the word of the day is MANAGEABLE then ENJOYABLE. And it' surprising how quickly it does become enjoyable! Like everyone else has said, get the right clothing as it'll make it easier to cope with the distance. And be prepared for a sore ar*e - 32 miles a day on a bicycle saddle isn't what the human behind was designed for, so accept that it's gonna take a bit of time to "harden up" and you'll be fine.
  • jonomc4jonomc4 Posts: 891
    The distance is very do able - but the way I started (my daily commute is 12 miles each way) was to start by cycling about 4 miles and I built it up by a mile every 2 weeks roughly. When I got to 10 I did a dry run to the office (have a much better route now). Very quickly the time it took halved for me - the next trick is to make sure that you don't try and do it every day to start off. Start with once or twice a week and then build it up. Sometimes though you find you can get weary by day 5. Now I do the ride most days with occasional days off to carry large loads etc. and often go to the gym afterwards for an hour or two.

    Now after a year I am doing 60 mile rides more regularly. Just give yourself time to build it up - if you push to hard you will loose the motivation. As for cost savings - hmmm I may save £9 a day in travel but I seem to spend more than that on new bikes and kit now (I have the bug). Just make sure you have the right kit (lycra under baddies generally does the trick) - but invest in proper cycling gear in the mid price range, it will make it more enjoyable in the long run.

    Make sure you carry a saddle bag or something with inner tube, gas tyre inflater - one or two tyre leavers some latex gloves, a few of the most used hex keys - esp for saddle adjustments when you start off and some cash - enough for a taxi if something goes wrong!

    Just enjoy it. It beats the crud out of being squashed in a train with someone suffering from flu or being stuck in a traffic jam.
  • AzharAzhar Posts: 247
    Thanks again, some really really good advice. I think where i am at the moment, fitness wise, is that i can do 5/6 miles and no more after that, legs turn jelly at slightest incline. i suppose once i;;ve got to ten miles then i should be able to do the whole route at a push. i think the only i need to practice is how to fix a puncture. i've done it before in the past but my the small pump i have doesnt seem to be really effective compared to the bigger one i have. i need to go out and stock some inner tubes though. anyway...from the general advice i'm reading it just sounds like i just need to build up. i think the one thing thats going to motivate me most is saving £150p/m on fuel. i could use half that money to buy me some bike clothing gear to last me several months. :D on google maps when i map out the route i'm going to be using it looks absolutely long but i suppose in reality it wont be too bad. :D

    i think what i might also do, as one of the advice above mentioned, is to do the whole 16 miles to drum it in to my head that i can do this, even if it takes me a while to do so. great advice about the psychology part of biking "past the zebra crossing its going to level out or go downhill". i suppose breaking up the route in that sense will help me get to work without trying to think about too much about how far it is.
  • andyrrandyrr Posts: 1,594
    If you aren't comfortable doing the full distance in 1 go then maybe you can sling the bike in the car and ride in part way ?
    The main thing I'd add would be to advise you to get your preparation for the ride in done the night before.
    Get all of your kit, shoes, gloves etc, ready, check the forecast to see if you might need those thicker gloves and the heavier jacket.
    Don't leave it to the morning for checking if the tyres are inflated to then find a puncture - clean it when you get home and whislt you do that check the tyres etc.
    If you've had a punctue then get that extra tube out of your stock of spares that evening and replacing a tube is worth being familiar with, front and rear, so you can be confident if the worst comes to the worst. Run decent tyres that have decent protection built-in and replace before they become too worn.

    Running around like a blue arsed flea as time runs short in the morning isn't conducive to a relaxed stat to the day.
  • mudcow007mudcow007 Posts: 3,861
    if i go the long way around home (which i do most nights), its about 14 miles so 16, is deffo do-able!
    Keeping it classy since '83
  • i do around 45 miles a day round trip, with a break in between because of train journeys, if I decided to skip the train journey one way then its a 60 mile trip, so your mileage will be very doable, your motivation is saving the money on petrol, parking etc... and determination is to build the mileage up and enjoy the ride in no matter how long it takes, with you eventually doing the ride daily your speed and time will soon pick up and drop, its not going to happen straight away but you will get there. I am complentating scrubbing the train journeys in the summer, which would mean a jump to a 80 mile round trip, now that i must be mad!!!
    Sorry its not me it's the bike ;o)

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  • littleprawnlittleprawn Posts: 135
    mudcow007 wrote:
    if i go the long way around home (which i do most nights), its about 14 miles so 16, is deffo do-able!

    ... Azhar, once you have been on here for a while, you will realise that many guys who commute also manage to extend their commute, hence the 'additional mileage' for leisure/ training purposes. Do not be daunted by the mileage some of the guys here do, they are season cycling commuters....

    When I started again last autumn, I started initially cycling at the weekend and managed 5-6 miles which took under half an hour, then slowly I started building it until I hit the 10 mile mark (a major milestone) and after time your fitness improves. It surprisingly gets easier as your body adjusts to accomodate the additional work load. Be patient and do not over do it.

    Where are you based and what is the route like? Try and use this for working out your commute
    Cannondale CAADX 5 105
    Trek T10
  • AzharAzhar Posts: 247
    I'm giving myself a target of doing some training this month, including running as well as getting the miles in. i figured i might do part of the commute to work, something like 7 miles which means then its 7 miles back. and if i can do the 14 mile round trip then i'm sure i wont have any issues getting to work but taking it slow. i'm targetting myself to start commuting to work at the beginning of june.

    I was speaking to a colleague of mine at work who does alot of mountain biking rather than road biking. just asking him general questions about puncture repair etc and then came out with saying "you're not thinking of commuting to work are you" knowing where i live and how far it would take me to travel. so it kinda...kinda knocked my confidence a bit and made me think should i actually do the commute, but i'm determined, as i've mentione before, to commute to work, save the money and get thin! i keep re-reading the advice you folks have given me and really appreicate it. i'm still going for it!
  • rubertoerubertoe Posts: 3,994
    Of course your going to do it and when you do it will be the best thing you ever do, of course your daunted by the distance, when i got into cycling in 2009 although i didn't actually get a bike until mid 2010, i could barely ride a mile!

    My legs hurt, my censored hurt, my lungs hurt, basically i hurt all over but i was hooked straight away. now two years on, i commute 30 mile round trip daily, and i wouldn't have it any other way (p.s i was also a smoker for most of that time so its entirely doable).

    Read the advice, get on the bike and do it. when they (the non commuters) comment that you do what? just smile and say yeah i do and they will soon be in awe of your awesomeness.
    "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

    PX Kaffenback 2 = Work Horse
    B-Twin Alur 700 = Sundays and Hills
  • AzharAzhar Posts: 247
    rubertoe wrote:
    Of course your going to do it and when you do it will be the best thing you ever do, of course your daunted by the distance, when i got into cycling in 2009 although i didn't actually get a bike until mid 2010, i could barely ride a mile!

    My legs hurt, my ars* hurt, my lungs hurt, basically i hurt all over but i was hooked straight away. now two years on, i commute 30 mile round trip daily, and i wouldn't have it any other way (p.s i was also a smoker for most of that time so its entirely doable).

    Read the advice, get on the bike and do it. when they (the non commuters) comment that you do what? just smile and say yeah i do and they will soon be in awe of your awesomeness.

    thanks for the advice, particularly what you said in the last bit. going this weekend to do half the route (approx 7 miles) and then back,. so a round trip of 14 miles will defineitly help me.
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 12,999
    I agree with the comment above. For MTBing, 33 miles is a long way. Many trail centres would be 7-12 miles. But road biking is a lot easier in terms of covering distance. So an MTBer (and I am one!) saying "ooo, that's too far" is irrelevant. Before I started commuting I wouldn't have imagined how regularly I could do a 34 mile round trip, or how quickly I'd get used to it.

    Don't start in June., that's too far away :twisted:
    You've already said you can do 10 miles, then turn around and go back, if you can do 20 miles in one go, you can do ~30 miles in two seperate chunks.

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • jonomc4jonomc4 Posts: 891
    I think one thing worth noting is that once you get to a place where you can do 10 miles with ease then doing 20 or 30 or 40 miles actually doesn't seem to wear you out any more than 10 miles (provided you take enough carbs on board and drink) - well sometimes you censored is more sore!

    I often come back from a 30-40 mile ride and feel less tired than a 10 miles (mostly because I pace myself when doing longer distances). Just take your time and build up the basic fitness.
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