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Cycling to work

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tuxedo_cat:
I didn't see this thread revived in this category -- originally started by cc_alan here -- so let's get this discussion rolling!

I am moving to a major city for a new job this fall, after being in a mid-sized city where I have had the luxury of being able to rely on off-road bike paths for most of my commuting needs. Any general advice that forumites would like to offer about how to keep safe biking in a big city with lots of buses?  I will definitely go back to using my little sunglasses mirror so that I can see the traffic behind me. . . and I'm looking at ways to commute along parks and waterways which are more likely to have real off-road bike paths.

And since I'm going to be making a more decent income, I am thinking about *finally* buying a beautiful road bike for training rides (I have been riding a 40-year old Nishiki I bought for $50 off an old boyfriend for years).  I am quite taken with Bianchis and could probably buy one new.  But I also have an awesome local bike guy, who might be willing to build a custom bike for me with a Bianchi frame for far less than I would pay for one new.  Anybody have any opinions about all that?

Whether or not you have answers to those questions (I'm hoping octo drops by : ), tell us what your cycling experiences / questions are!

fast_and_bulbous:
Oh boy, one of my favorite things to do is bike and I'm glad tuxedo_cat is reviving this thread!

I'm back in pretty good shape, 14 miles round trip to the office, mostly on tree-lined paved bike paths and rails trails. My commute goes by so fast, even up those hills, now that I'm regularly biking. Sometimes I wish we didn't have winter here where I invariably lose my biking fitness because I can't get myself to use the elliptical trainer nearly as often and hard as real biking.

I am in a city with lots of buses but it's also one of the bike-friendliest cities in the US. I avoid busy streets but begrudgingly use them when necessary, but only streets with dedicated bike lanes. I would never bike in a big city on a road with no dedicated bike lane - I hope that's not your situation t_c!

I got a new bike when I moved to my new job a few years ago. Man they have improved quite a bit since the 80s (my old Schwinn that weighed more than I did rolls in its grave). Now e-bikes are all the rage and it's weird to have somebody silently cruise by you with very little effort - but so far I haven't seen any major issues with e-bikers vs. bikers.

t_c, do the buses where you are at have bike racks on the front of the bus (outside) where you can hang them when you get on? They have that here, and although I've never used this facility, it's a convenient way to get through parts of the city that are not bike friendly, and then exit the bus where it is better and bike from there. The buses here can hold two bikes.

So I would say, if you can take a path that is not the most direct path, but is safer and more pleasant, do it! I can shorten my round trip by 4 miles by taking a stretch of busy road, but the current route is safer and much more enjoyable and I get a bit more exercise.

tuxedo_cat:

--- Quote from: fast_and_bulbous on July 12, 2019, 04:29:53 AM ---
I am in a city with lots of buses but it's also one of the bike-friendliest cities in the US. I avoid busy streets but begrudgingly use them when necessary, but only streets with dedicated bike lanes. I would never bike in a big city on a road with no dedicated bike lane - I hope that's not your situation t_c!

< . . . >

t_c, do the buses where you are at have bike racks on the front of the bus (outside) where you can hang them when you get on? They have that here, and although I've never used this facility, it's a convenient way to get through parts of the city that are not bike friendly, and then exit the bus where it is better and bike from there. The buses here can hold two bikes.

So I would say, if you can take a path that is not the most direct path, but is safer and more pleasant, do it! I can shorten my round trip by 4 miles by taking a stretch of busy road, but the current route is safer and much more enjoyable and I get a bit more exercise.

--- End quote ---

Thanks for all these pointers, f&b!  Yes, the buses in my current city have those racks and they also have them in New City. . . my only worry is that some day I may violently throw out my back hoisting up my old mountain bike  (this chicken is not so spring-y anymore). A lot of the bus drivers here are kind enough to lower the front of the bus for me when they notice that the rack is well above my knees--not really expecting that kind of attention in a much bigger city.

Before I move, I've been using Googlemaps to try to suss out where the bike paths are actually in the green part of the parkways -- and yeah, I would never try biking on a city street without a designated bike lane.  I'm nervous even when it's there, since plenty of drivers don't respect that space.  I'm not above switching to the sidewalks on a busy road so long as there aren't any pedestrians. I guess I should find out what sort of fines I might face for that in New City.  And in response to babyonboard:  yes, the advice to "hog" the lane has been suggested in the previous incarnation of this discussion thread : )

As for the new bike: this would be a nice light road bike for training.  Every summer I try to find some kind of triathlon-type event to participate in. . . at this point I'm looking mostly for ones that offer an aquabike option, since the running part is not really wise for me at this point in my life.  I just think Bianchis are pretty, so very technical motivations behind that choice!  And I don't need to spend a bazillion bucks -- $1K would seem like a big indulgence for me.  But wow it would be fun to find out just how fast I could go on a decent bike!

The main reason I was thinking about having my local bike guy build a bike around a Bianchi frame is that he has been an amazingly supportive resource for me with both of my crappy old bikes for 6 years.  And since he knew I was living on very reduced income, he always charged me incredibly reasonable rates for all my repairs.  I was thinking that if I were going to spend a bucket of money on a new bike, I'd like to finally be able to pay him a whole lot more for it before I leave town.

octoprof:
We have moved to far from my job for cycling to work (but we LOVE where we live). So I have to come up with a plan for getting some cycling in this fall. Sigh.


--- Quote from: fast_and_bulbous on July 12, 2019, 04:29:53 AM ---t_c, do the buses where you are at have bike racks on the front of the bus (outside) where you can hang them when you get on? They have that here, and although I've never used this facility, it's a convenient way to get through parts of the city that are not bike friendly, and then exit the bus where it is better and bike from there. The buses here can hold two bikes.

So I would say, if you can take a path that is not the most direct path, but is safer and more pleasant, do it! I can shorten my round trip by 4 miles by taking a stretch of busy road, but the current route is safer and much more enjoyable and I get a bit more exercise.

--- End quote ---

In my last city the buses had the racks on front and I used them all the time.

I also second taking a safer path rather than a shorter path.

mamselle:
I forget if it was the old CHE or the new (this) thread, but someone was dealing with leg cramps and I kept meaning to post a couple useful discoveries, since I've had cramps from dance class at times.

I was in France a year and a half ago, getting out of my bed in the youth hostel, when my inner right leg (sartorius) grabbed and hurt!! Its neighbors quickly joined in... I started doing the stretches and swings that usually, finally, will convince the muscles to let go, but it was taking a long time.

My 80-y.o. room mate saw me, and ferreted around in her backpack, pulling out what looked like one of those big Band-Aides in a 6x8 package. She got out her sewing scissors, cut open the wrapper, and handed me a floppy wet adhesive thing to apply to my leg. I was dubious, but within 4 minutes, the grabbing stopped.

She gave me another one, saying she had a standing order for them, they were covered by her health plan, it was no big issue. I ended up using part of it a week or two later on a different spot, different leg, and was very grateful.

I was also, a month or so later, aware that although I'd been doing a lot of things that would usually trigger leg spasms, they'd stopped.

I started checking the ingredients of the second package, and found it was a 5% lidocaine patch, which made me think maybe the numbness had "taught" my muscles to relax and not grab.

About a year later, (last spring) I'd run out (having cut it up in smaller pieces and given away a couple pieces to friends, besides using small bits myself on different spots) and the grabbing sartorius kicked in again.

I started checking around; turns out the US doesn't have 5% patches available across-the-counter without an Rx, but there are 4% patches (CVS calls them "pain relief patches") and I got a box.

Again, they've shut down the usual tension patterns, I'm getting a new odd little "hinting like it wants to grab" feeling in the back of the left leg (after swing dance last night when I did, literally, kick up my heels quite a bit), but it's yet to go into full-blown spasm (and no impaired mobility).

I'd  been avoiding dance classes for this reason, most recently...now I think maybe I'll try to go back.

I tried to buy the patches in France last time (Feb, again) but the place I visited didn't have them; she did have some sublingual Mg-and-something else  (K?) pills which helped, with lots of water--I had not realized the tie between cramping and dehydration before--until I found the 4% patches (which work just fine) here.

So, long story short, this panoply of armaments against cramping can be added to bananas, which I was aware of, and eating, but not getting much coverage from.

In checking further, France may have also gone to 4% which was why when I requested patches at the pharmacy there in February, she said she didn't  have them....I asked for 5%...

M.

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