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  1. #1
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    Daily 50 mile commute too much?

    So my wife and I want to try to live off of one salary so that she can have a baby and stay home. We have a 4 year-old already, so this is going to save us on daycare too. However, we only have one car -- which she will need with the *kids* -- and our current drive is 50 miles round trip (we teach at the same school). In order to make this happen, I am committing to doing the 50 miles/day. Is this crazy? I race single speed mountain bikes and I can hang with the local pros no problem, but this is going to be mega mileage. Is it doable? Anybody else have a similar commute? A job closer to home doesn't look likely in this economy/state.

  2. #2
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    I assume she's working until the year is out? If so, you could try this one way. I think it's a bit much and it would depend on traffic road and path situation a lot

    Teaching is more than in class time, so your family time is going to be reduced. For some couples this is a good thning. But it is your life, wife , and family. Maybe you could arrange a house swap to cut the distance some? Good luck, (maybe an electric assist is called for here to help haul those term papers).

  3. #3
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    44 round trip

    I have been doing a 44 round trip commute for 3 years now in CO. The distance is very doable, and will keep you in excellent shape. If you are able to keep up with pro's on your SS you should be OK. The hardest part is the cold winter days and rain. I have the option to bail out and take the light rail if it is too nasty. Just make sure you carry plenty of tools, and extra tubes so you don't get stranded. And if public transportation is available it can make a nice bail out option.

  4. #4
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    Mine is 46/day. I have done four days in a week of it. I'd have a hard time doing year round, 5 days/week. I have a pretty smooth commute too - minimal stop lights, mostly a very nice bike trail the whole way, etc. It's a 90-100 minute deal each way - It usually takes me about 70 mins to do the ride, then you gotta lock up the bike, and/or shower (at least I do), etc.

    Buy an inexpensive second car?
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  5. #5
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    You won't make 50 mile/day week in week out with out a good lead in training program.

    Since you have to work, you going to need to prepare for it no matter what your riding now.

  6. #6
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    This is more of a touring scenario then a commute, I would setup as if I was touring for this. Were I live 50 miles each way is a long way to commute even by car, I can't imagine it on a bike every single day 5 days a week.

    If you have an out like a light rail then it may be doable 5 days a week at least you can get out of the rain if needed. I would not want to skimp out on parts either for this sort of thing I would see a decent up front cost on a bike and additional pieces needed.
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  7. #7
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    you could always get a cheap car to drive to work.
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  8. #8
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    Someone out there has probably done this year in, year out without issue. Go ride it, there are more miserable things than riding 250 miles a week!

  9. #9
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    It would be too much for me, but I don`t keep up with anybody, much less pro racers. I`d say do like J Scott suggests. After a few weeks of every other day, you`ll have a better idea, then up the ante. But keep thinking about the eternalness of what you`re considering- when you`re feeling lousy or it`s a howling gale, or winter cold/ice, will you still be committed to pedalling that much? On the days when you most hate to leave your wife without a car?

    Second suggestion, though it doesn`t help much against icy roads, would be a scooter or small motorcycle as a second M.V. Besides fuel, parking space size, and initial sale price, insurance is much less than a car- pretty inexpensive for a second vehicle.
    Recalculating....

  10. #10
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    I would consider looking for a car pool for part of the distance. Does someone else at school live in your direction and would be willing to transport you and the bike in exchange for gas money? Even knocking off 10 mi each way would make a huge difference. Some gas money is cheaper than a 2nd car.

  11. #11
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    The big question I see overlooked is climate. 50 miles is a lot longer in an Oklahoma ice storm than in a balmy SoCal winter. 50 miles a day is also tough in a humid Georgia summer. Inclimate weather also adds considerable time (and gear) to a commute.
    But one sure way to get it done is to do it.

  12. #12
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    As others have mentioned I'd try and cut the distance in bad weather if possible. Public transportation, carpool, or maybe your wife can drop you off/pick you up a ways from home a couple days a week.

    Yes, it takes some coordination on her part to pack the kids in/out but she can also use this as a time to run errands before/after dropping you off. (Nothing like hitting the freshly stocked grocery store at 7am )

    Also, my opinion is that she doesn't "need" a car every day, but she would like the option. (unless you live in such a rural area that public services like EMS can't reach you in a timely manner) We took our 2 kids to a woman who had an in-home daycare. In addition to the 3-4 kids she was paid to watch she had her 2 school age sons at home which she home-schooled. She had 2 cars in the driveway yet didn't leave the house from 7am until 5pm. It can be done.

  13. #13
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    50 miles a day is some good dedication. I do not think I would do it especially 5 days a week. Is it not possible to move to a closer location, get a closer job, or buy a really cheap car?

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  14. #14
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    piece of cake

  15. #15
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    Thanks

    I appreciate all of the comments thus far. To clarify a bit, weather won't really be an issue, as I am in AZ. Also, I can do about 50% of this ride on the canals, so It should be pretty smooth riding for much of the way.

    I can probably bail out on the bus at some point, and I might even be able to utilize the light rail for some distance. I am just concerned that the light rail and/or bus is actually slower than riding.

    Moving is not an option. I worked really hard on my teacher's salary to get a small home that is nowhere near where I work . Frankly, I wouldn't put my kid in the school in that area.

    I think a little moped may be in order on those days where I am not functioning 100%, and I'm sure my wife can have some car-less days if need be. I'm going to try it out a few times this year, as none of this will be starting until the next school year at the earliest.

    Thanks!

  16. #16
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    45 miles a day here

    No problem with the distance day in and day out.
    The biggest issue with me is boredom. I can only see the exact same thing so many times before its just not fun anymore.
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  17. #17
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    I am in a similiar situation as you with, except with much lower mileage. We sold our second car, and at first I was very gung ho, and would never accept a ride to work. We have found that balance has to be met. We don't have kids, my wife works part time and goes to grad school part time, and I work full time while going to grad school at nights.

    Our commuting situation has evolved into a very nice system. I either bike to work, or my wife is kind enough to drive me in on days where i am not upt to it. On days I have no class, I bike home. On days I have class my wife picks me up and takes me to class. When class is over, I either bike home or call for a ride. I think a test period will help you decide what the best method is. The good thing is that if your wife is not working, you can always get a ride from her should you feel under the weather or have mechanical issues that you dont have time to fix before your commute. Scheduling your week ahead of time will be essential. You will have to know days where your wife absolutely will not be able to give you a ride, and days where you might need a ride to rest.

    I like the scooter idea as well. In fact, my wife an I have been talking about getting one in January, because she will be going to grad school full time as well. This way, we have assurance that we both will be able to get to where we need to be regardless of weather, health, bike functionality, and schedule.

    All in all I think it can be done. My longest mileage days are only around 35 miles round trip, so I can't give you any advice as to the mileage, but I can say that with a good plan it seems doable.

  18. #18
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    Over the years I know a lot who started out doing a 5 day a week commute but as time wore on and weather got worse almost all went down to only riding 1 or 2 days a week. People with distances of 10 miles or less continued on with almost all staying at 5 days a week.
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  19. #19
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    while I haven't, I worked with a guy who did 50 round trip each day in Anchorage during the summer, during the winter he would bus about 30 of those and ride the rest of the way.

    With a dedicated route (like the Canals you speak of) I think this is very doable, watch the heat.

  20. #20
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    You can find a cheap Motorcycle.

    Get something from craigslist that has ductape on the seat and refurbish!

  21. #21
    M_S
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    Every day? It would be too much for me. There's the burnout factor, but even more so the amount of time it would take (a lot).
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  22. #22
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    50 miles round trip!Thats 25 miles in the morning then 25 miles at night.

    I know of a long distance commuter who became a slave to his heart rate monitor to avoid over training. He used to do 320km a week which is 200miles so 40miles a day. He used to ride at or below 70% max heart rate. That would let me ride at about 20 kmh (12mph) so it would take nearly 2 hours to ride 25 miles. 4 hours is a lot of time each day to ride to and from work.

    Good luck on what ever you decide. I work in the desert in Australia. I thought that was hot till I heard how hot it gets in AZ and when I was there it almost snowed in winter. That is difficult weather to commute in by bike.

    add edit. Maybe an e bike?
    Last edited by mitzikatzi; 11-30-2010 at 10:54 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Arizona + canals sounds like Phoenix area to me. I hear it gets a little on the toasty side there on summer afternoons which, IMO is worse than bundling up for a 20F morning. And the one ride I managed in that area (~60 miles RT from Gilbert this January) was pretty windy. No ice, though. Also, it seems to me that you have a pretty nice public transportation system- paying a fare from time to time is a lot cheaper than any big purchase. Good luck with your decisions and keep us posted, eh?
    Recalculating....

  24. #24
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    Trying it out on Monday

    Again, thanks for all the advice so far. I am going to try it out on Monday, and depending on how it goes, I might try to do it on Mondays and Tuesdays for the rest of the year (these are the only days I don't have to drop my boy off at daycare in the morning). I'm curious if it will grind me down too much. However, I am a firm believer that, given time, your body really adapts to the stresses. Plus, I already ride and run plenty as it is.

    My wife is more worried that I am going to get randomly shot in downtown Phoenix. It's a distinct possibility !

    And I need to pay down some bills before she can quit her job and I can get rolling on this!

  25. #25
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    50 each day is doable, doing it each day and still being able to race competitively on the weekend, maybe not.

    I did a 58 mile round trip 3X a week for about 6 months. When I first started, by that third day I was toast. After 6 months I had adapted some, but still didn't go out for any "recreational" rides either. I now do a 30 mile round trip nearly every day and that is sustainable for me and I can put out good race efforts on the weekend as well.

    Sounds like you have a good plan set to try it out. If you decide to commit to it, I'd recommend picking up another bike. If you get a dedicated commuter, you can slap on lower end components and not worry about wearing out your good stuff on commutes, and then your good bike can act as a back-up if your normal ride is not ready for some reason.
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  26. #26
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    Motivating

    Your experience is encouraging. In fact, I am kind of looking forward to not feeling like I need to ride on the weekends. 250 miles a week is going to be a pretty solid base for racing. Maybe the wife will let me borrow the car a couple of days during a race week so I can "taper".

    Not sure when I will fit in my running though...or if I will even want to.

  27. #27
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    Good idea to start riding the commute sooner rather than later. As long as there isn't any serious climbing, I doubt it will be a problem. Not sure what bike you are planning on using, but make sure it's outiftted with comfort in mind. As a teacher I guess you wouldn't have to worry about doing this route in the summer? I would imagine AZ weather to be killer during that time of year.

    You probably won't want to ride much outside of this commute, but you'll stay in excellent shape and you can be lazy on the weekends. You could always mix up the route or ride a different bike on some days just to keep things interesting. You'll feel rewarded for sticking with it and will enjoy it a lot I suspect. I'm sure you could find an alternate way there once a week if needed. You'll be able to eat a lot of good food too!

  28. #28
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    I do 41 miles roundtrip 3-5 days a week. Eat and make sure you don't push it too much, it's really easy to put some serious hurt into your body by doing all of your commuting miles at a tempo+ pace and never recovering.
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  29. #29
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    All the extra time on the commute is time away from your family. My daily commute is 6 round trip, and sometimes 28 round trip. Those random weeks where I have to go 28 I just feel like I'm missing family time as I leave before they get up, and I get home after they've had dinner. Personally, I'd look at cheap transportation in the form of a moped or scooter. As much as I don't like it, I'd rather that than take hours a day away from my family. I'm also giving up racing, as it's the same deal, my riding time is taking away family time. Sure, lots of people do it, but I'd rather hang out with my kids. Once they have the patience for a 2-3 hour ride in the trailer I'll be set...

  30. #30
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    Did It, With a Twist

    So I did the commute last night. However, instead of the full 25 miles-one-way ride, I hopped on the light rail for 8 miles right in the middle. Overall it was pretty sweet and it took about 90 minutes on a single speed with offroad (36x20) gearing. The only lousy part was that 9 miles of it is on ****ty inner city roads in really crappy neighborhoods. Depending on which way I am going, this is either the first or last third of the trip and may require a bullet proof vest . The first nine miles from my house is on greenbelt, with no traffic whatsoever, and the light rail was really cool and smooth -- my first ride on it.

    As to some of the other posters concerns about taking away from my family time, in reality, if my wife is staying home, everyone will be asleep when I leave for work (5:30 am), and I will only lose about an hour in the evening (should be home by 4:45). I exercise everyday anyway (running or biking), as does my wife, and we usually don't get done until 5-5:30 or so, because we have to drive home first, and pick the little guy up from daycare. He then rides in the baby jogger or on his trail-a-bike. So, long story short, if I do this commute, I will be done exercising and have a beer in hand while hanging out with my family earlier than I do now. Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me, and it will just take some mild suffering on my part. But suffering keeps you healthy and strong (most of the time ). Right?

  31. #31
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    I think a good idea to incorporate the "light rail" in the middle. The shorter riding distance will make your commute much more sustainable in the long run. I hope you stay safe on your ride through the hood.
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  32. #32
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    Last Update

    So I did the full commute on Tuesday 'cause the wife took the day off to drive down to Tucson. I did the ride/light-rail/ride in the morning, and the full ride in the evening. Both ways took an hour and fifty minutes to complete, which wasn't too bad. However, I will never do the full ride again. Fifteen of the twenty-six miles are through the barrios and hoods of West Phoenix. It was just too depressing to even contemplate doing it everyday. I don't think I would be able to stay motivated to do the 52 miles round trip day in and day out when thirty miles of it reminded me of the Apocalypse.

    An aside: why do people willingly live in filth and let their "homes" go to ****?

    Anyway, in contrast, the ride/rail/ride way is pleasant for 75% of the way. Not to mention the fact that I get to sit on my butt for 8 miles and read the news on the train.

    Hopefully my wife and I will get our bills paid down so that she can stay home next year and get knocked up (which is what we both want). We'll see. At least I know that if it happens, I can get to and from work without burning an oil.

  33. #33
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    Let common sense prevail.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoonesDaddy
    So I did the full commute on Tuesday 'cause the wife took the day off to drive down to Tucson. I did the ride/light-rail/ride in the morning, and the full ride in the evening. Both ways took an hour and fifty minutes to complete, which wasn't too bad. However, I will never do the full ride again. Fifteen of the twenty-six miles are through the barrios and hoods of West Phoenix. It was just too depressing to even contemplate doing it everyday. I don't think I would be able to stay motivated to do the 52 miles round trip day in and day out when thirty miles of it reminded me of the Apocalypse.

    An aside: why do people willingly live in filth and let their "homes" go to ****?

    Anyway, in contrast, the ride/rail/ride way is pleasant for 75% of the way. Not to mention the fact that I get to sit on my butt for 8 miles and read the news on the train.

    Hopefully my wife and I will get our bills paid down so that she can stay home next year and get knocked up (which is what we both want). We'll see. At least I know that if it happens, I can get to and from work without burning an oil.
    I live in Phoenix and my commute is much shorter than yours. I am lucky to have an office at Thomas and Central so the light rail stops right in front of my building. I do ride the short 6 miles to the train station and then just work on the train the rest of the way in. I really enjoy it actually and will be sad when the heat comes back. I bet you could get a great deal of grading done on the train!

    As for the riding through the barrio, I have to say it can be a disheartening experience but in my opinion only because it demonstrates the cities unwillingness to enforce its own cleanliness and maintenence ordinances and also shows its lack of focus on sensible bike routes that get you from one part of the city to the other without hanging you out to dry in crazy traffic or unsafe neighborhoods.
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  35. #35
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    A month later...How about an update? Are you sticking to the ride/rail/ride?
    I tuned in as I now have a 44 mile round trip commute on a vintage road SS. (not fixed ). It's rough but doable, 2 hours flat each way. Few hills, mostly country road.
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  36. #36
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    I do 36 miles round trip. I CAN do it daily without issues, but usually have to drive once or twice a week for other reasons.

    for me, 36 miles isn't quite enough to feel like I relaly got a good workout, so I usually add about 15 or so at lucnh if I have the time.

    50 miles on a daily basis is definitely doable, but probably something you want to work up to.

  37. #37
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    Props if you do it. If not, buy a big bore dual sport motorcycle.

  38. #38
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    My local bike shop owner commutes 3 days a week to work at 45 miles each way! I think the key is the break up of the days. You are doing a fantastic thing with your family!

    Consider discussing with your wife a way to organize the week's trips to free the car up two days a week so you can have off days. It wouldn't even have to always be the same day each week either.

  39. #39
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    Wish I could do 50 miles a week....laid up with tendonitis right now. Haven't ridden since Christmas Day. Considering your description of the barrios you have to ride thru, think it's only a matter of time before some asswipe mugs you, or runs you over. Just Not worth it, no matter how good your intentions are. Your wife and kids need you with your grey matter intact....

  40. #40
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    I used to ride only 28 miles a day to and from work, and over time I found that to be too much. There was always a big meeting that I had to be in early for, or tons of backlog I'd have to stay late for to catch up... hills, hot weather, high wind (the worst!), and the simple fact that the time I spend in the saddle coming and going was time I could have spent with my family. Yes, saving the fuel costs is very nice, and yep, its great to get the saddle time in. I love those days when I'd have meetings downtown and not out at the project site so I only had to pedal 8 - 12 miles. That seems to be my break even point. Anything longer than 10 miles is just too far to pedal to for work.

    As suggested, I'd look into public transportation options to supplement your commute... and I couldn't imagine riding in that Phoenix heat.

    I still get two-wheeled saddle time in on my commute though. I ride my motorcycle.

  41. #41
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    50 miles? Assuming you go 25 mph average (lol) you'll be spending 2 hours a day commuting. At more realistic 18 mph (depending on terrain, lights, etc) and you're at almost 3 hours/day. You might be able to do it but I can't imagine everyday. Unless you like suffering

  42. #42
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    I live in Phoenix also and if I were in your situation I'd pick up some kind of cargo bike or do the xtracycle mod to a current bike....then throw on a Bionix electric assist kit. Put a seat on the back to take the kid to/from daycare and head on in to work. Use the electric assist to cruise at 20 mph on the super hot summer days or the way home when you are just exhausted.

    Its not a cheap set-up to start out with, however if you commit to using this as your second vehicle (grocery getting, commuting, running errands) I think you will find in the long run that its cheaper than owning a second car and a lot more fun.
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  43. #43
    M_S
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  44. #44
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    my commute is either 58miles, roundtrip or, if i rally a 3 mile dirt stretch (not fun going down, not too bad going up) it's 52miles. i only do it when the weather is above freezing for the morning leg, so most december-february days are out (i live in asheville, nc and work outside of old fort - 2200ft at my house, peak at 3200 ft, 1900ft at work).
    i race mnt bikes and road bikes expert/cat4 - pretty strong but certainly not "keeping up wiht the pros on a ss" as you are. i can pull off the commute 3-4 times a week b/f it feels like too much. motivation to kit up in the morning, especially when it's dark and cold, is the crux; the ride is the easy part. go for it (just watch out for javelina and rattlers out in az)!
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  45. #45
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    I was doing a 32 mile round trip, 3 days a week. But we've moved house now so its going to be 55 mile round trip, the plan is to do tues / thurs, and maybe 3rd day a week when I feel up to it, but I'm luckly, I've a car avaialbe to me full time, so I can always opt out on bad weather days or when not feeling 100% ( or just plain lazy !)

    not sure how this helps, but keep up the riding
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