Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
londoncommuter0000
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Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby londoncommuter0000 » 30 Jan 2019, 12:31pm

How many miles do you all commute?

It's too cold for my single speed right now, and of course as I mentioned a couple of days ago, my carbon Giant is still with the bike doctor, having tests done.

As a result, I'm pretty out of shape at the moment. I'm 51 going on 52, weigh eighteen stone (which is technically 'obese' but as I'm 6'4'', it doesn't look that bad, and my diet is working so I hope to be fourteen stone by August for our wedding anniversary :)) but with no chronic illnesses (that I'm aware of).

In happier times, my commute is ten miles each way. I don't do that every day, although I should. When I have, and when I get home on Friday afternoon with 100 miles on the clock, and punch the air with satisfaction, I feel great. When I do that for say six months on my single speed and then go on a tour with my wife, I have a fully loaded Surly and it feels like I'm pedalling a 9-kg carbon racer. Downhill. With a tail wind.

We now have the possibility of moving further away from London, which would give us eighteen miles from our front door to my office. EDIT: I just checked google maps again, and it turns out that I was navigating from this new potential address, to my wife's office, which is a couple of miles further into Central London from where I work. Plus, I can 'straighten' the route suggested by google maps to bring me into Greenwich Park from the NE and that cuts the journey down to 15 miles. I previously did 12 miles each way, five days a week when I worked up the West End, and I was as fit as hell. Right now, I average about 12-13 mph over the current commute of ten miles as I'm unfit. When I've been commuting for a month or so, I can get my average speed up to 15-17 mph, so in theory, I could do the fifteen miles in an hour. END EDIT.

Is this bampot territory? Do any of you do that many miles daily? Five days a week, that's 180 miles. That's more than I've ever cycled in a week, by far. Three days a week would be around a weekly century, so doable. Or I get a folding bike and either cycle from there to a train station, or else get a train to a spot closer to London.

What say the forum?
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Cugel
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby Cugel » 30 Jan 2019, 1:06pm

londoncommuter0000 wrote:How many miles do you all commute?

...(snip)

Is this bampot territory? Do any of you do that many miles daily? Five days a week, that's 180 miles. That's more than I've ever cycled in a week, by far. Three days a week would be around a weekly century, so doable. Or I get a folding bike and either cycle from there to a train station, or else get a train to a spot closer to London.

What say the forum?


When I worked (spit) I commuted a great deal from Lancaster to Lytham St Annes and back on the bike. In those days, now long ago, this was a minimum of 29 miles each way and often a bit longer as I liked to vary the route across The Fylde, sometimes doing a dog-leg to get some bumpy in the foothills of The Bowland Fells.

I was a racing fellow then so very fit and typically did the 30 miles in an hour and a half, using an unsuspended mountain bike set up with road bars, slick fat tyres and one pannier on a rack. Sometimes I got the ladywife to take a tranche of clothes for a week and went lickety-split on the racing bike, unencumbered with pannier.

The trick is to make the time for the 3 hours cycling each day along with the two 15-20 minute periods for getting changed/showered. This is not easy for a family man with children et al but can be done once the little rascals are effectively independent. I used to get up at 5:30am, walk the dog, have breakfast, get ready, set of at 7:00am and be there and changed before 9am. I tended to work until 6pm in the lighter nights then cycle back to be home and changed by 8pm. Bed by at least 10pm.

Darker nights and mornings saw me revert to the car for significant periods, although I managed a couple of days a week on the bike when the weather wasn't so bad.

As you can see, not much time for anything else. But it suited me at the time as I saw the ladywife at lunchtime for an hour and the many miles kept me fit for bike racing at the weekend. If you have other commitments or pursuits, it becomes more difficult to justify the commuting/getting changed time.

On the other hand, if you have to commute anyway, somehow, cycling can often be quicker. Were I to have traveled Lancaster to Lytham via bus or train (both possible) it would typically take at least 2 hours each way, inclusive of long walks to bus or railway stations at each end. Often there would be delays or a missed bus/train. The car took only 40 minutes each way - unless there was a jam (which there was quite frequently).

Cugel

londoncommuter0000
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby londoncommuter0000 » 30 Jan 2019, 1:10pm

<SNIP>
Cheers for that. We don't have children - just cats and rabbits. :-)

Cycling is very much quicker at the moment for my wife, but not for me, as I can get off the train and be sitting at my desk 4 minutes later. I wouldn't do it so much for saving time, as for fitness and staving off the Grim Reaper just a little bit longer (I'd hope).
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fastpedaller
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby fastpedaller » 30 Jan 2019, 2:21pm

We're all different, so it's what suits you (or your body). In my younger days I used to do just 10 miles into work, but would do 30 in a loop going home. If I did this (and raced at the weekend) I used to gradually get slower and slower as the season progressed - my body just wouldn't do it! :(
I've known others who used to do 30 + miles each way, every day and then go out training! They are the exception though.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby [XAP]Bob » 30 Jan 2019, 3:00pm

Up until last year I did 15 miles each way every day.

If you have a reasonable fitness level to start it's fine. I decided to add an e-assist as a backup since I'd not been commuting at all for about 9 months when I started - I only *needed* it once (in the first couple of weeks), but it is a nice to have and alot cheaper than petrol/train/taxi.

I ended up averaging something like 17mph on the trike (somewhat less in foul weather), and more than that (substantially more) on the unassisted raptobike (which was only ever used in fair weather).

I think 15 is the upper limit of what I would consider to be 'normally accessible' commuting territory. People can commute further but it starts taking silly amounts of time and effort... 15 miles can come in well under an hour each way, and mean you never need to go to a gym.
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TrevA
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby TrevA » 30 Jan 2019, 4:46pm

My current commute is 9 miles, but I have commuted 21 miles each way to work. I used to do it every day but would have the occasional day when I used public transport instead. I got very fit doing it. There was a 5 mile stretch on a dual carriageway and I used to treat that bit as a time trial. It used to take between 1hr 10 and 1hr 25 to do the 21 miles, depending on on wind direction and motivation. I only used to do the full ride in the summer. In the winter, I would ride to a station half way and catch the train. With today's lights. I'd consider riding the whole distance, though the dual carraigeway bit would be a bit scary in the dark. There was an alternative route but it added a couple of miles and was hillier.

A long commute can be tiring until your body gets used to it, but you will reap benefits in terms of fitness and weight control.

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Graham
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby Graham » 30 Jan 2019, 5:21pm

Eighteen miles, commuting into London, would be too far to do every day - for me.

Your journey would be interrupted by a huge number of junction, roundabouts and traffic lights. This would soak up a significant extra amount of journey time. In addition, mixing-it with heavy traffic, probably driven rather aggressively, would be an additional stress factor.

I'd try to spread the load by inter-dispersing a train commute at regular intervals. Especially when the weather unpleasant.

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The utility cyclist
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby The utility cyclist » 30 Jan 2019, 10:55pm

I'm hitting the half ton this year and did a fair few commute miles a while back whilst doing a physically demanding on your feet all day job but despite getting fit again later on after a near decade of not cycle commuting (but cycling more at weekends/still going to the shops during the week and touring) it's never the same IMHO.
Yes shedding weight on yourself and increasing your fitness is the biggest step but 50 isn't 30, never mind 21. I'm 3-5kg heavier now than I was 20 years ago, probably all fat :lol: but despite a far superior bike for me I'm nowhere near what I was, I know we're all different of course.

My current commute is a veritable sprint at 2 miles, started that with the new job on Jan 1st, it's right through an industrial route as well as the estate road, 7 junctions in all including 6 roundabouts of various sizes, having to deal with WVM, car commuters, buses, 40 tonners and diesel strewn rbts makes it a garbage run. That's the rub with some commutes, some can be a nice easy route and some are just absolutely awful.

As Graham alludes to, it's all those junctions, lights, roundabouts, other road users and their machines that can make a big difference, I had a 7 mile commute that had fewer stops/awkward junctions and a few straights along country roads that had light traffic. I could do the 7 miler in 19 minutes if I gave it the beans but then I was 21/22, I can just about get it under 8 minutes for the 2 miles currently and it's mostly downhill.

Good luck whatever you decide.

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foxyrider
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby foxyrider » 30 Jan 2019, 11:29pm

At different times i've had daily commutes of 10/12 miles each way (and being Sheffield that means quite a bit of climbing on the way home at least as I live at the top of one of the 7 hills!) yes I was younger, maybe fitter but it was still quite a commitment in time and energy. In extremis I could use PT but it could easily double the journey time. The outward legs generally took about 45/50 mins but the return could be thirty mins longer.

Would I do it again? Possibly but i'd not be so keen if it was all through city streets or significantly so. For me, an hour commute is the absolute max, I guess if practical to do it alternate days or one way it wouldn't be so bad.
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby eileithyia » 31 Jan 2019, 7:08am

I've had commutes of between 9 miles and 20 miles. I have also done combos of cycle one way train the other (early and late shifts from Solihull). I would re-build slowly once back on the bike.... and maybe alternate some days with train or one way commutes if that is possible. You might be able to do 15mph but I would allow at least 1h15/20 to get to work, get organised, allow for a problem, stopping and starting at junctions / congestion, and to get sorted at the end; wash / shower / change / brew
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londoncommuter0000
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby londoncommuter0000 » 31 Jan 2019, 8:30am

Thank you all. I reckon that - as some of you have said - I shan't be doing the commute every day. It's true that 51 isn't 21, alas.

Conversely, I am a stronger cyclist than I was at 30. Not fitter per se of course, but at 30, I bought my first motorcycle and then of course, the bicycle was left to gather dust in the garage.

If I don't do the cycle at least a couple of days a week, then I'm looking at old age, obesity, and heart disease.
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby Vorpal » 31 Jan 2019, 8:57am

I've done commutes anywhere from 5 miles to 28. The 28 mile one I could not do every day, but did do it as much as 3 days per week when the weather was good.

I was teaching Bikeability for a couple of years, and I rode to & from most of my schools, and had some cycling with the students on top of that. I also took my kids to the zoo, did the shopping, etc. all by bike. I would for a couple of months at a time, accumulate well over 200 miles per week that way. But that kind of mileage would only last until school was out.

I have a friend who has commuted 17 miles, plus weekend rides for at least 20 years. I would guess that he accumulates between 220 and 250 miles every week. He's in his 60s.

I have to admit that Norwegian winter means I usually only do my 10 mile (and 300 metres climbing) commute once or twice per week at the moment. It takes half again longer in winter. It's not so much the effort, as the time. 3 hours cycling every day is a big time commitment. And precludes getting my kids to activities after school, and that sort of thing. I do some skiing in the winter, though.

IMO, it depends a great deal on the individual. If it were me, I think I'd try it and see how it goes. There no harm in trying, and if it doesn't work out, just do it 3 days a week, or something.

p.s. as eileithyia suggests, it's a good idea to increase gradually
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby thirdcrank » 31 Jan 2019, 9:05am

You seem to have plenty of experience of cycle commuting so I'd be slow to offer advice. I will say that for somebody riding regularly, cycling thirty miles taken in isolation is not much. The problem is likely to be that the longer the commute, the more important it is to have an alternative means of making the journey or the flexibility to work from home. OTOH, the lack of such alternatives is more likely to motivate you to ride in, no matter what the conditions and sticking at it is what keeps up your fitness. Put another way, the alternative can be attractive to the point of being seductive.

I retired at age 52 in 1997. I commuted 24/7 on rotating shifts, but not that far although the mileage in isolation is not the issue. I've regularly done a sixty mile loop in the Dales on a Sunday morning before an afternoon shift with the ride home at 10pm, but that's just not the same thing. For the last decade or so of my working life, my wife worked as a nurse which meant she used our car, when I realised how bad conditions can occasionally be.

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Cugel
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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby Cugel » 31 Jan 2019, 10:37am

Some interesting experiences in this thread.

There's no doubt that some commutes are much more pleasant to cycle than others. I loved the 30 mile commute through the countryside of The Fylde, even in poor weather as there was very little traffic and even the flat Fylde has it's natural charms. I couldn't do 10 miles in that London, as I would be had-up for beating a car (perhaps 3) to death with a lump hammer/ (The car. not the occupant). :-)

But most people, of any age, can work up to astounding mileages on a bike - it requires only the willingness and the gradual increase in practice. It can improve not just your physical but also your mental health. Well ... it can if you aren't getting buzzed and choked by a stream of cars.

Personally I found I got more resilient with age, as far as ability to sit on a bike for hours pedaling quite hard goes. I suspect I was fastest and most resilient at around 45-55. Even now (at 69) a lifetime's cycling allows me to go about quite fast and for lots of miles. Don't use age as an excuse to avoid a cycling commute.

Even poor health in some particular fashion can be overcome. I know many who have various conditions - diabetes, heart thingies, genetic thingies and even some with cancers - who can all do significant miles and speeds. It really does come down to, "Do I want to do it". This is often underpinned by "How enjoyable is it / will it become"?

Perhaps one technique to become a successful commuter is to not think of it as wasted time or time that can be saved, but as a pleasure in itself. I think any activity improves if one takes the attitude that, although it can also be a means, it's primarily an end-in-itself.

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Re: Average Commute Length? Massive Increase Possible…

Postby thirdcrank » 31 Jan 2019, 11:02am

I really enjoyed my commuting and except for the quick changeovers (finish at 10pm, start again at 6am in the morning) I found shiftwork - generally avoiding rush hours - ideal. My last few months at work were during the passage of the Hale-Bopp comet and I had plenty of opportunities to see it in the early hours, as well as surprising foxes etc. It's also a great way of clearing the head of all the day's troubles: usually the first few pedal turns were enough for me to do that. But the longer the daily ride, especially if there are no viable alternatives to offer a bit of variety, then it risks becoming a bit daunting.