Monday, January 11, 2010

The New Commute

I'm getting to know my new commute. This morning I rode with a friend (Mike); we can ride part way together, then he goes north and I go west. Just before we split up, Mike is usually joined by another guy, Chris. One thing I noticed is that when you're riding hour and a half in the morning and again in the afternoon, the weather conditions change significantly. I was freezing at first, but eventually the ambient temperature increased and I warmed up. On the way home, I was overdressed, but about halfway home the sun went down, the temperature dropped, and I was dressed about right.

This was Mike's first commute with his new Surly Long Haul Trucker; he said it was like riding a Cadillac compared to his old Trek hybrid. I said something about trying to meet up on the way home, but Mike said he's tried that and the timing never works out, so I resigned myself to a solo ride home.

I finished the commute and found that the last 3 miles consist of a series of short but sharp climbs and descents. I was pretty proud of how well I did on them. I found out on the return trip in the afternoon that they are much sharper climbs in the homeward direction, and not being fully warmed up, they pretty much kicked my butt.

A little later, I was just coming out to a main road and two commuters in hi-visibility jackets go by- It was Mike and Chris! They passed the side street I was on and kept right on rolling. I got out to the main road and was maybe a block or two behind them, but going downhill. They were coasting some, so I was able to catch up with them and we rode the rest of the way home together. Pretty cool.

Mike is a strong rider and has been doing a longer commute for some time. Still, I hung with him pretty good- until the long rise of Wedgmont Circle where he left me in the dust.

Being in the habit of commuting regularly, I thought I was a pro at it. But when you increase the distance from 7 to 17 miles each way, it's a whole new ballgame.


Gunnar Berg said...

My daughter, who was home from Bangkok for Christmas, and hadn't driven in a year or more, rolled our car on bad roads over the holiday. (She's okay) I heard today that they are going to total out the car, so I'm about to start bicycle commuting. But it's Minnesota, the roads are all snow compacted (icy) and I don't have anything with appropriate tires. I'll have to get'em. Another disclaimer, I don't actually work. I have to commute to the cafe to meet the other layabouts for breakfast and then pick up birdseed and groceries and get home before the lady who still works, comes home. Driving what was my pickup truck. That is all.

Doohickie said...

I'm glad your daughter's okay. And I'm glad you'll putting more miles in the seat. I can't really guide you too well on tires, except that I gotta believe studs are in your future.

And it'll be many years until I have a regular commute like yours, but I look forward to it. I did some errands like that on Friday; you can check that out on my other blog.

Chandra said...

Pat yourself on the back for keeping at it and going strong! You ought to be proud of yourself for doing yourself and the environment good.
Peace :)

dreamlet said...

I'm proud of you, Doohickie. That's not an easy commute! Keep at it though, I'm sure it's going to get easier for you.

RANTWICK said...

I'm kind of jealous. Keep it up and you'll be twice (or three times, really) the commuter I'll ever be. Maybe I should move, or get a new job...

Keep rolling, man; sounds like a good start to me.

Rat Trap Press said...

17 miles is a long commute. Like Rantwick I'm jealous of you guys who get to ride to work. I'm guessing that you're still using the Nishiki?

Doohickie said...

Yeah, the Nishiki hybrid. I'm considering alternatives including putting the Dumpster Queen back into commuter service. I have another bike I can build up as a drop-bar bike; I may build that as my weekend bike and use the Dumpster Queen as a backup.