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  1. #1
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    First week bike commute impressions

    The last 0.5 mi of my morning commute kicks my butt even with 26-32 ring-cog combination because there is a 300ft climb over that distance. The rest of my commute I can do comfortably using only the 36T chain ring and the entire 11-32 cassette. I'm going through a residential area so for the most part I'm fine on this climb. I found a slightly different route that adds about 3/4 mi to the ride to ascend the hill a bit slower.

    There is a part where I have to ride through Golden Gate Park and although it's flat, it is quite intimidating because of the vehicular traffic. About 0.5 mi of it is a bit twisty and there isn't enough road for cars to pass me without going into oncoming traffic which they cannot see because of the twists. I have no idea how fast I travel through this section, but I assume it's lower than the 25MPH limit. Some people try to make a dangerous pass (1 near head-on collision), some people use the horn.

    I did eventually find an alternate route so that is mostly taken care of, but I have to go slower because instead of roadway I'm riding on paved MUP where there is large group that congregates on the MUP to do Tai Chi in the morning.

    The commute home I'm using a different route which descends the 300 ft in about 0.75 mi but on a busier and higher speed roadway that doesn't require me to stop every 200 or 500 ft. I managed to spin out using 48-11 gear combination so I think I might even be speeding on this 30 MPH roadway. The downside is that I think vehicles and pedestrians are way underestimating my speed. Vehicles parked perpendicular to the roadway are also a factor that make this route a bit intimidating. I've done this downhill on my old mountain bike and for whatever reason my new bike feels a lot more stable. My old bike was downright scary after if it went faster than 25 MPH. Not sure if my new bike being a 29er/622 wheels makes a difference.

    I noticed that my nearest supermarket doesn't have any accommodation for bicycles. They have dozens of vehicle parking lot but I didn't see a rack or anything I could lock the bike to aside from a wheelchair ramp. I'm sure many people would use these, but I see it as messed up.

    Employer has bike lockers, but repeated contact with the coordinator hasn't been productive. Right now I'm locking the bike to a railing on the side of a loading dock. They also have subsidized public transit benefit but those using it have reported it took them months to get it. Previous employer outsourced it and we used pre-tax income to buy our own public transit fare media.

    Something I don't understand...
    Why is there so much hostility towards pedestrians? I'm noticing that even if there are no vehicles at the stop light, a lot of bicyclists stop inside the crosswalk. I've seen as many as 10 bicyclists sitting inside the crosswalk effectively blocking the whole thing off. Even if there are pedestrians inside, some of them ride into the crosswalk and stop in front of those people crossing.

  2. #2
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Hey, first chance for a snow commute in 35 years down there, I hear! How are you doing with the unusually cold weather?

    For the supermarket, are there "corrals" for the baskets? Different places I go have different things to lock to, but most have those things.

    It sounds like you`re investigating route options- always nice to know what choices you have. If you don`t feel safe with people passing you on a narrow road, I`d say take the lane.

    Bikes blocking the crosswalks? I haven`t seen that, but it would take every bicyclist within several square miles to effectively block anythhing around here. It`s funny how different the cycling "culture" is from place to place. It seems like what`s normal in one place is taboo in another. Just going on what I read by the net- I don`t travel much and seldom ride on other cities.

    I didn`t read the specs on the bike you bought, but if you went from knobby tires to smooth, that might explain why your new bike feels more stable at high speeds than you mtb.

  3. #3
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    Haha...I was excited about snow but I haven't seen any last night.

    As for the cold weather, I'm using my snowboarding half-face mask. Add that to sun glasses and a gray helmet. I must look like a biking ninja or a psycho. My softshell jacket is black also, but my backpack is red. Actually my softshell is a bit much for biking even with only a long sleeve wicking shirt.

    If my ears didn't hurt so much, I wouldn't use the mask at all. It does make breathing marginally more difficult and cause my glasses to fog up if I'm not moving though. Without the mask, the cartilage part of my ears get horribly painful.

    There are the corrals for shopping carts, but they are only wide enough to fit a single column of carts. Locking my bike to it would probably result in damage from people inserting and removing carts. I actually hate driving around in this parking lot and park on the street outside if I ever drive there.

    There are a lot of bicyclists using Market Street and blocking crosswalks appears to be the norm. Other parts of SF seem different.

    Stopping at a 2-way stop and then having a motorist stop and try to wave me by gets pretty annoying too - esp when the other direction won't clear until another 3 or 4 cars pass through.

    My new bike has tires that look like motorcycle tread. I put similar style tires on my old mountain bike when I was putzing around town with it. I know the front wheel on my old bike was very slightly out of true (couldn't be fixed since the defect was at the rim seam). As far as I knew, it only made the brake pulse.

  4. #4
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    That sounds like a challenging commute, nice job"jumping in". Sounds like a herd mentality taking over in the crosswalks, I can't say that I've seen that either. The MUP sounds like a good alternate route, at least taichi'ers move slowly! I dislike facemasks unless absolutely necessary (close to 0F for me), I prefer a hat that fits under the helmet and has good ear coverage, or headband for warmer weather. A fleece neck gaiter warms the face but makes it easier to breathe and can be pulled down easily on uphills, etc. A bike rack at the supermarket would be nice...maybe a suggestion from the bike perspective, or a complaint from the wheelchair perspective would help.

  5. #5
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    Don't have enough bike or pedestrian traffic to see the crosswalk behavior.

    As for shopping, in nice weather, I have found a street sign in the lot on the sidewalk, or have used the double wide (room for two lines of carts) corrals. In cold eweather, I don't like the idea of a cold saddle, so I park it inside with the motorized shopping carts in plain sight of numerous clerks/and cameras. The super nerd setup and large frame render it some theft resistance (undesireability). No one has said a thing, but then I am large enough most won't.

  6. #6
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    I didn`t mean I lock up inside the corral- most cart corrals are one cart wide and take up a full parking space, leaving plenty room on the outside for a bike. Some are double wide corrals, so don`t work for that.

    I use a knit cap for the same reasons as Xplorer.

    WIshing you snow for tonight! If you don`t get any on your own, I`m sure some of the Easterners would gladly let you have some of theirs!

  7. #7
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    Finally got around to tuning the rear derailleur that was occasionally skipping gears. I was surprised all it took was two clicks on the shifter adjust knob. I contemplating taking it back to the shop since I get 1 year free maintenance from them but found some videos on Youtube instead. The front was a bit more work, but I think I have it working.

    The disc brakes are kicking my ass though. I'm not sure how to adjust them so the rotor doesn't scrub when I'm riding and not have the lever hit the bar. The rotor only scrubs when the reflector is in the 4 to 6 oclock position when looking at it from the brake side. So far, it looks like the lever only actuates the outer pad and the inner one is static. The rotor then flexes as the outer one presses it against the inner pad. Interesting design.

  8. #8
    Frys With That, Please
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseko
    The last 0.5 mi of my morning commute kicks my butt even with 26-32 ring-cog combination because there is a 300ft climb over that distance. The rest of my commute I can do comfortably using only the 36T chain ring and the entire 11-32 cassette. I'm going through a residential area so for the most part I'm fine on this climb. I found a slightly different route that adds about 3/4 mi to the ride to ascend the hill a bit slower.

    There is a part where I have to ride through Golden Gate Park and although it's flat, it is quite intimidating because of the vehicular traffic. About 0.5 mi of it is a bit twisty and there isn't enough road for cars to pass me without going into oncoming traffic which they cannot see because of the twists. I have no idea how fast I travel through this section, but I assume it's lower than the 25MPH limit. Some people try to make a dangerous pass (1 near head-on collision), some people use the horn.

    I did eventually find an alternate route so that is mostly taken care of, but I have to go slower because instead of roadway I'm riding on paved MUP where there is large group that congregates on the MUP to do Tai Chi in the morning.

    The commute home I'm using a different route which descends the 300 ft in about 0.75 mi but on a busier and higher speed roadway that doesn't require me to stop every 200 or 500 ft. I managed to spin out using 48-11 gear combination so I think I might even be speeding on this 30 MPH roadway. The downside is that I think vehicles and pedestrians are way underestimating my speed. Vehicles parked perpendicular to the roadway are also a factor that make this route a bit intimidating. I've done this downhill on my old mountain bike and for whatever reason my new bike feels a lot more stable. My old bike was downright scary after if it went faster than 25 MPH. Not sure if my new bike being a 29er/622 wheels makes a difference.

    I noticed that my nearest supermarket doesn't have any accommodation for bicycles. They have dozens of vehicle parking lot but I didn't see a rack or anything I could lock the bike to aside from a wheelchair ramp. I'm sure many people would use these, but I see it as messed up.

    Employer has bike lockers, but repeated contact with the coordinator hasn't been productive. Right now I'm locking the bike to a railing on the side of a loading dock. They also have subsidized public transit benefit but those using it have reported it took them months to get it. Previous employer outsourced it and we used pre-tax income to buy our own public transit fare media.

    Something I don't understand...
    Why is there so much hostility towards pedestrians? I'm noticing that even if there are no vehicles at the stop light, a lot of bicyclists stop inside the crosswalk. I've seen as many as 10 bicyclists sitting inside the crosswalk effectively blocking the whole thing off. Even if there are pedestrians inside, some of them ride into the crosswalk and stop in front of those people crossing.
    You mentioned Golden Gate Park so I'm assuming you're in California; correct?
    2012 Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 4

    1994 Cannondale Super V 1000

    1996 Cannondale F500 rigid-fork 69'er

    Motiv 26'er

  9. #9
    namagomi
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    Given the same imbalances and defects, 26" wheels will generally wobble at a lower speeds than 29r wheels and be less stable. Think of the grocery cart wheels. If it's bad enough it can lead to the "death" wobble or tank slapper.

  10. #10
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Most mechanical disc brakes have one static pad and one adjustable pad. When I had mechanicals, I liked to put the static pad as close to the rotor as I could without having it drag, and the moving pad about the same. Then I got pretty reasonably throws on the brake levers. There are supposed to be some tricks to improve modulation, but honestly, I don't think mechanicals have the bite for that to be a problem.

    The crosswalk thing happens in New York too. Bike Snob calls it the "shoal of idiocy." I grew up in San Francisco; lately when I visit home, other cyclists, especially on market street, really irritate me. Usually here in Seattle if I plant myself in the middle of the lane to wait on a light, nobody tries to pass me, although there's still some drafting and half-wheeling. Other people roll into the crosswalks, and occasionally, I have to admit, I do too, but I usually stop on the timing line, as I would in my truck, so at least in the little piece of roadway that I'm using, there's some space around me, usually, and some order.

    You can avoid a lot of the stupid behaviors of others, or at least reduce their impact on you, by assertively occupying your space, taking the lane if you're nervous, and taking the lane when you're rolling into a red light. That last action also makes it less likely that you'll be right-hooked by someone who doesn't signal or look before turning right. Just drift back into the bike lane after you've gotten through the intersection and decided that the bike lane is actually usable for the next few blocks. Basically, remember that you're a vehicle, sharing the road with larger vehicles, and drivers, even the fairly aware ones in San Francisco, don't always expect something small to dart out from behind a parked car, or silently roll into their blind spot. So if you're where you'd be in a car, it's safer.

    Off the top of my head, I can't think of any really dangerous roads in Golden Gate Park that don't have a nearby, safe alternative. Keep tinkering with your route, and maybe sometimes take the long way home.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    I would probably stop within the cross walk, not to annoy the peds, but to keep the cars driving up my rear and wedging themselvs to pass..most issues I experienced when commuting in Los Angeles was with cars and busses cutting you off. Car/ bus issues begin almost immediately after leaving the MUT. I hate bus drivers the most!!

  12. #12
    I Ride for Donuts
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    Man I would enjoy a Tai Chi slalom course on my commute

    You are bringing back memories of my commuting days in LA County. Give me snow and ice and no other people any day!

    You are asking the right questions and jumping right in there. Keep it up, and remember, if it's not fun, keep changing things until it is!
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  13. #13
    namagomi
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    For heaven's sake watch out for the right hook...

  14. #14
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nagatahawk
    I would probably stop within the cross walk, not to annoy the peds, but to keep the cars driving up my rear and wedging themselvs to pass.
    ??? If you stop in the crosswalk, you`re a prime candidate for that hook. Moving over to the middle of the lane should keep them from "crawling up"- they aren`t going to pass you without running the red light anyway. And if there`s a possible right turn the other vehicles might possibly be waiting for, I usually move all the way over to the left side of the first lane so they can get around me and make a right on the red when the opportunity arises. Keeps them from getting antsy and there`s no way they can hook you. Well, they could hook you if they went around on the right, then gunned it on the green trying to get back in front of you- never happened to me, but from some of the stories people post from other cities...

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