How hard do you ride when you commute?
Just curious and wanted to take a survey.
For my case:
Moderate, lightening up toward the end but with a couple intervals of pretty hard effort to cover the modest rises taking the most direct road route at what I feel to be good speed. Occasionally I’ll do one at a true maximal effort to see what I’m capable of. Most often when I do it’s on the first rise coming up from Bartlett playground… more time to cool off.
If I make it out of downtown to the jail trail quickly and the jail trail doesn’t seem crowded then moderate on the jail trail and moderately hard the climb back home. If it’s clear from the outset I won’t be be getting a fitness benchmark that day I’ll relax, pound less and spin more.
I ride hard because I’m always running late. I ride just below Cat 6, I do stop at all lights and signs but I go as fast as I can from red light to red light. If I leave on time (something I have only done a dozen times in a year) I ride at a moderate pace.
I mash both to and from work. It’d definitely be different if I didn’t have shower access downtown, but I don’t really care how much I sweat now.
For me it’s a way to clear my head before and after work, and if I’m just cruising my mind wanders.
In the morning I’m a multi-modal commuter. The bus stop is about a mile from my door, so if I’m running late (which happens often) I full-on sprint to the bus stop. I think 3.5 min is about the best I’ve done so far. When I get off the bus, I have about a mile to go that features two sizeable hills with a short descent in between. For that part, I go only as hard as is necessary to get up the hills. That way, I don’t show up looking like a sweaty mess.
In the evening, I will push myself sometimes. I bring clothes that I can sweat in just for the ride home. That gives me a chance to work on things like conserving momentum when transitioning from descending to climbing, out of the saddle climbing, and trying to reach escape velocity whenever possible. If I’m feeling especially randy, I’ll just keep riding after work instead of going straight home.
Depends. I don’t feel that athletic, and one of the reasons I bike at all is to demonstrate for my neighbors that you don’t have to be athletic to ride a bicycle.
That said, I routinely tackle unpleasant, busy suburban roads, where I find that I need to run at 100% of capability much too often.
I’m pretty good with the short burst of speed, such as when leading a group of cars down Grant Street for two blocks. I’m not so good at maintaining a steady 12 to 15 mph pace for any length of time.
cat6 both ways, only slowing when on the trails around other cyclists.
I always take my time… but, I’m trying to get out of that habit.
I take it easy on the way in – it’s mostly downhill, and I don’t usually shower here. On the way home I have no choice – it’s all uphill. I figure I’m just going home anyway, so I try to work harder.
morning commute is downhill, afternoon commute is uphill. so when you average it out, I’d say I use an average amount of energy.
I’m with Stu…I can do some pretty solid burst of speed when needed, and I find myself giving 110% on some of these narrow roads. I prefer to roll mellow to and from work, though.
I’ve gotta go about 16 miles each way, and it’s just not fun to hammer along all the time. I actually leave super early most mornings, just so I can enjoy a mostly low-traffic ride up the river on Freeport Road. I detest the 4-lane superhighway section before the Hulton Bridge, and it’s much more fun to just cruise along.
Speaking of the Hulton Bridge, I’ve gotta say that the afternoon cattle chute formed by the backed up line for the bridge makes the inbound run through that area really suck. I’m always pounding along through there with some maniac on my rear wheel. I hate that part of my ride…just hate it. That’s definitely the leg burning, “they are trying to murder me” section of the commute.
Depend how late I’m running. I commute from Oakland to Downtown so if I’m way behind it turns into a 3 mile sprint. I don’t have access to a shower though so usually I try to take it moderately.
I’m lucky that my AM commute is a short climb followed by all downhill/flat. I try to force myself to take it easy, ideally coasting, since I’m prone to sweating and I’d rather not. On the way home I definitely pedal harder, although largely out of necessity.
When I had a longer ride (14mi) and had to shower anyways it was full cat 6. I think my PR was 52 min – not bad considering all the hills and lights…
Having a shower at the end of your inbound commute makes all the difference. When I started riding for work, I had a shower at the office, and I’d ride accordingly hard (while still exhibiting your standard safe rider standards). Now that I don’t have a shower waiting for me, I’ll ride in much more casually (and add time as I need).
I do tend to blast home though (on the jail trail especially) — seems like that’s slightly necessary after a day of work and trudging through Downtown on a bike. (Think I once made it from the Greenfield end of the trail, up Neville, up Reynolds wall to my kid’s school in just under/over a half hour. Not really bragable, just data).
Erica wrote:morning commute is downhill, afternoon commute is uphill. so when you average it out, I’d say I use an average amount of energy.
Same here. I take the “easy” way over Mt Washington (Warrington Ave) on the way in, so I don’t work hard enough to stink through the day. On the way home, I take the hard way over Mt Washington (Sycamore) and then ride uphill to Mt Lebanon. Into the shower within minutes of getting home, especially in the summer.
How hard do I ride? As hard as I have to in order to maintain a moderate pace. Harder on the uphill sections, more casually on the downhill sections. I figure if I beat the bus (door to door) over the 8 or 9 miles, my pace is good enough.
No shower at work, but that’s not relevant to my decision, as I have a Y just blocks away, and COULD have access to a shower in the building.
I ride for transportation, not to prove anything to myself. If I want to prove anything, it is that anyone can ride. I am often passed by other riders. Sometimes it bothers me. Then I realize that I am trying to compare my riding to that of a 6 ft + male 20 years my junior (in my most recent experience). Then I feel good when I find that a mile further on I am stopped at the same light he is, and 2 miles on he is only a block ahead of me.
That said, on the uphill sections on the way home, there are times when I wonder if it would be physically possible to go any more slowly without falling over.
My goal for this year is not to ride faster, but to ride lighter. I hope to ride in my work clothes, carrying no “change of clothes” for the office. That will pare down my pack/sack/bag needs. It will also make the decision to ride on any given day somewhat easier, as there will be less to think about and remember to bring. And, as Stu mentioned, it will convey the message that ANYONE can ride.
If I want to prove anything by bicycle commuting, I think that is what I would choose it to be — just about anyone can ride, and use a bike for transportation, as long as you manage expectations.
“I figure if I beat the bus (door to door) over the 8 or 9 miles, my pace is good enough.”
If you RIDE 8-9 miles for transportation one way, that’s great, any pace you do it at. Kudos.
“That said, on the uphill sections on the way home, there are times when I wonder if it would be physically possible to go any more slowly without falling over.”
I love this quote. I think we all can relate on one hill or another.
As de-motivating as it sounds, I find personally that the fact that I pretty much always do push through this feeling long enough to crest the hill in question is one of the most motivating things about cycling, even if I’m just looking to take it easy on the rest of the ride.
I guess it comes down to “gotta go make the donuts” and being at peace with that.
@ Swalfoort That said, on the uphill sections on the way home, there are times when I wonder if it would be physically possible to go any more slowly without falling over.
(to no one’s surprise)
I love this thread!
My goals for this year are also not related to riding faster, but rather, to riding more. I want to turn my current 3x per week commute, with days off for rain, sleeping in, etc, into a 4x per week “no matter what” mission. I feel so much better when I ride in, and I need to stop making excuses.
I’d also love to meet some of my fellow commuters for coffee one of these mornings. Market Square Starbucks?
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