New commute: what would you do?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    The Brutally Handsome
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    New commute: what would you do? *Update!*

    I haven't posted here forever because my commute has been the same for the last 12 years: 7 miles mostly flat each way on safe roads and bike paths.

    Now, it looks like my job is changing and I will working in a new location. The new route would be 11 miles with a 700ft climb each way. I like climbing so that's a non-issue.

    The problem is a 2 mile stretch along a highway with no shoulder. I'm not exaggerating this either, there is zero shoulder with banked gravel on each side. I have ridden it dozens of times while out on rides and it's always a hair-raising experience. There is a lot of commercial traffic with dump trucks and logging trucks. In fact, a couple years ago a dump truck ran me off the road. And unfortunately, it's the only road (except the interstate freeway) that connects to the town where I'll be working.

    What would you do in this situation?


    So far, the best idea I've had is to give up on commuting, which makes me sad but keeps me alive. I could bring my bike and go on rides after work. I'll be passing a trailhead every day so I can mtb my brains out. And the roads near my new workplace are great for gravel and road riding. It's just that damn stretch of highway!

    I attached a photo to give an idea what it looks like. Hard to tell but aside from all the glass and garbage on the sides, the gravel is off camber and not rideable.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New commute: what would you do?-screen-shot-2019-05-09-1.00.50-pm.jpg  

    Last edited by Sizzler; 2 Weeks Ago at 02:14 PM.

  2. #2
    Up In Smoke
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    I wouldn't want to do that twice a day, that's too much faith in rush hour drivers. I would stop commuting if I were in your shoes, or maybe look a little harder for a bypass route.

  3. #3
    The Brutally Handsome
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    There exist two alternatives to the route: first one ads 10 miles on an equally unsafe road, second one ads 20 miles and another 1300ft of climbing.

    There is an abandoned railroad track that runs the entire length of the road. I have no idea how crazy that would be.

  4. #4
    Up In Smoke
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler View Post
    There exist two alternatives to the route: first one ads 10 miles on an equally unsafe road, second one ads 20 miles and another 1300ft of climbing.
    That's kind of what I figured.

    What's the speed limit on that road, less than 45mph I'd probably ride it. More than 45mph and I'm driving to work.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler View Post
    I haven't posted here forever because my commute has been the same for the last 12 years: 7 miles mostly flat each way on safe roads and bike paths.

    Now, it looks like my job is changing and I will working in a new location. The new route would be 11 miles with a 700ft climb each way. I like climbing so that's a non-issue.

    The problem is a 2 mile stretch along a highway with no shoulder. I'm not exaggerating this either, there is zero shoulder with banked gravel on each side. I have ridden it dozens of times while out on rides and it's always a hair-raising experience. There is a lot of commercial traffic with dump trucks and logging trucks. In fact, a couple years ago a dump truck ran me off the road. And unfortunately, it's the only road (except the interstate freeway) that connects to the town where I'll be working.

    What would you do in this situation?


    So far, the best idea I've had is to give up on commuting, which makes me sad but keeps me alive. I could bring my bike and go on rides after work. I'll be passing a trailhead every day so I can mtb my brains out. And the roads near my new workplace are great for gravel and road riding. It's just that damn stretch of highway!

    I attached a photo to give an idea what it looks like. Hard to tell but aside from all the glass and garbage on the sides, the gravel is off camber and not rideable.
    Does it cross culverts or drainages? You could venture out on your mountain bike and start cutting a trail down lower. after a couple weeks of riding it would start to bed in and you'd have a short trail to ride off the road. Otherwise I agree with everyone else, life it too short, drivers are too distracted to risk this 2 miles.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler View Post

    There is an abandoned railroad track that runs the entire length of the road. I have no idea how crazy that would be.


    I'd explore this before making any decisions.
    "These things are very fancy commuter bikes or really bad dirt bikes, but they are not mountain bikes." - J. Mac

  7. #7
    The Brutally Handsome
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockcrusher View Post
    Does it cross culverts or drainages? You could venture out on your mountain bike and start cutting a trail down lower. after a couple weeks of riding it would start to bed in and you'd have a short trail to ride off the road. Otherwise I agree with everyone else, life it too short, drivers are too distracted to risk this 2 miles.
    It crosses a small river, the adjacent land is a farm on one side, and an interstate hwy on the other.

    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    I'd explore this before making any decisions.
    I'm going to ride down there and poke around this weekend, see if I can connect some gravel roads. I asked a few locals at a group ride this evening and the consensus was that it would be safe enough to ride. I'm still not convinced.

  8. #8
    CB of the East
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    Good to see you back here. I've seen your post from the first page of this thread. One of the founding fathers!

    Sorry for the potential loss of your commute. For 2 miles it does seem like you could find some kind of ride around. Have you checked Strava Global Heatmap to see if anybody has ridden any trails in the area? The railroad track sounds promising. If you could get the bad road riding down to a small amount you could load up with daylight visible flashers and take the lane like a boss. At least it looks straight with good sight lines. That probably depends on how busy it is when you ride it.

  9. #9
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    OT:
    Ah the brutally handsome is back Where is the nice pic you had before?

    Thanks for inspiring me to join here a few years ago.

  10. #10
    Rides all the bikes!
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    Just based on the info given, I would look for an alternate route, even riding far off on the shoulder in the dirt if possible. I didn't bike commute once this week, and it has put me in a bad mood.

  11. #11
    The Brutally Handsome
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclingdutchman View Post
    OT:
    Ah the brutally handsome is back Where is the nice pic you had before?

    Thanks for inspiring me to join here a few years ago.
    I'm surprised anyone remembers me here! And yes the years haven't been kind to my good looks. I should probably change from the brutally handsome to the brutally reptilian.

    Strava heatmap is pretty illustrative of the problem. Following the green dots, I would be riding down the road on the top left side which intersects the hwy in the middle of the map, which is the only connection to the town at the bottom of the map.

    One suggestion I got from another rider who has more experience riding on dangerous roads explained he always has a plan to dump it off the side of the road if someone is coming too close. Better to crash than get hit.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New commute: what would you do?-screen-shot-2019-05-10-9.26.54-am.png  


  12. #12
    jrm
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    I have a similar situation that involves

    riding thru a mile long tunnel, descend, then flat, and a climb out on a narrow elevated path with a 4' outside railing that keeps me about 5' away from traffic. What i do is get on a bus or free shuttle that takes me thru the tunnel and then i get off on the other side and complete the ride into work. Not sure if this is an option for you or not. You could toggle the transit layer embedded in google maps to see if there is that option. There might also be local government/employer sponsored shuttles as well. My alternative route tacks on about a mile more.

  13. #13
    CB of the East
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    Yup, can't get there from here. Not even a hint of another trail parallel. At least it shows the people do make the trip. Good luck finding a rail trail bypass.

  14. #14
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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    ...road looks in good shape anyway.
    I ride about 10 miles worth each way of road with similar minimal/no shoulder but much worse condition. You have to get to the middle of the lane to avoid pot holes and poor pot hole repairs.

    If you're not comfortable obviously don't do it.
    In my case I don't really have a choice for any type of riding.
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  15. #15
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    I'd ride it. Make yourself as easy to see as possible (high-visibility clothes, good front and rear lights), look behind you frequently and be prepared to go off the road if shit hits the fan. And take the lane if there's nowhere to escape (e.g. next to those railings), drivers will probably be pissed but it's better that getting hit.

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  16. #16
    The Voice of Reason
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    are you allowed to ride on the interstate shoulder? some states allow it.
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  17. #17
    since 4/10/2009
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    I hear ya. I don't like my commute options right now, either. At least right now I'm not worried about needing to commute anywhere. My job last summer simply wasn't going to involve bike commuting in any capacity, so I drove every day. the shortest route required a few miles of interstate that passed through a major terrain bottleneck. my job happened to be on the opposite side of the Biltmore Estate property (HUGE private property in the middle of town) from my house, and options to travel around that property are limited.

  18. #18
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    I commute maybe a couple times a year. That's it.
    I leave early enough that there is no traffic, and my route is 90% rural.
    But when I come home, I am better off taking a side-trip and doing a lethargic lap on the MTB trails while the traffic dies down. If I really need to get home, I have to ride in thick of it. People are generally pretty OK. And the road to my neighborhood is not bike-friendly at all.
    Can you adjust your ride schedule a bit to avoid the worst of it?
    Maybe you can do the 2.2mi. section as a time trial - 2wice every day. You could cover it in maybe 6 minutes. (?)
    I like to think that once the commuters get used to seeing you, they will cut you some slack, even if a little begrudgingly. You'll probably be the only bike out there at commuter time. Or, if you make a buddy on the way, you can team up.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  19. #19
    The Brutally Handsome
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    *Update!*

    I appreciate all the replies, I thought I would share a quick update:

    After taking a couple practice runs down to my new work site I gave up on the idea of commuting. The stretch of road is just too darn dangerous for daily riding, in my two rides I had two close calls with cars.

    I have been really bummed about this upcoming change until a couple days ago I found out about another position at a site less than a mile from my house. It's literally right along the edge of the mtb trails I ride and just today my transfer was approved!!!

    So, so excited about this, my commute will now be super short and safe, and I can use that extra time to mtb or whatever!

    Included a shot of the heat map just to show how much different things are looking now!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New commute: what would you do?-screen-shot-2019-06-11-2.33.32-pm.jpg  


  20. #20
    CB of the East
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    Sweet!

  21. #21
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    glad to hear it worked out. i was wondering if you couldn't ride on the other side of those guardrails and stamp out a trail. bring a shovel along and make a path

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