Longest Commute

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Anonymous's picture

I'm currently commuting 10 miles (each way) to work. I'm considering a move which would make my commute 30 miles each way. I would think that 10 miles is typical, but 30?! Please share your commute length and comments.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Long commutes

Last summer I was commuting 50 miles a day, 3 days a week, from the Lower East Side to Jersey City and back. Have only done it a few times this year.

Try starting with once or twice a week, and increasing your frequency if you can.

Anonymous's picture
John (not verified)

What were your times? Were you working 9-5? What time did you start out?

Anonymous's picture
John Miller (not verified)

Admirable if you can do it. Five days a week would equal 300 miles, more than many of us manage at the height of a summer holiday week that doesn't rain. Admirable, then, even if you can do it just 2-3 days a week when it's pleasant.

I did 10 miles each way for almost two years, Brooklyn to the Upper East Side. The job was a back of the house kind where it didn't matter what I looked like, so I paid no mind to sweat or grit. I would imagine at 30 each way that becomes much more of a factor. You'll be going through baby wipes and deodorant at Costco-esque rates.

There's also the time factor -- are you prepared to give yourself fully two hours to get to work? That's how long it's going to take each way, even if you aerobar-drag race it every day. Despite having a bike's small size and extralegal agility in your favor, you will find yourself inevitably behaving like a car for much of the trip -- which I found wearing both mentally and physically.

Related, I hope you plan to do this on a real road bike, with the legs to push a big chainring; smooth, high pressure tires and a fastidiously maintained drivetrain. No freddy junk like panniers, racks or fenders, though I'll grant you a minimally packed Timbuk-2 tight across your back. You won't be rolling a slacks leg or wearing a button down shirt or a fluffy windbreaker that billows out behind you -- dress clothing will be waiting for you at work, dry-cleaned locally.

I say this with absolutely no NY bike snobbery: you're going to look more like a messenger than you ever thought possible, because they know something about efficiency and not wasting an ounce or a watt.

30 miles also means -- and I'm making an assumption -- that you will be travelling in from suburbs, or at the very least, the near-suburban furthest reaches of the five boroughs. You'll have to deal with netherworldish border crossings of anarchic traffic and reckless pedestrians -- think The Hub in the Bronx; Woodhaven Boulevard or Queens Boulevard; Flatbush Avenue and Downtown Brooklyn; Washington Heights. The bike's extralegal agility may help you slightly, but the small size will put you at the losing end of any interaction with anything except your tires on the road.

These observations aside, I hope you try it. I lost twenty pounds commuting, while eating five meals a day of whatever I damn well pleased. More importantly, commuting was my entree into the larger world of the local sport -- from there, I graduated to NYCC group rides, to the SIG, to racing. As Tyler Durden put it, you'll be transformed from molded clay to being carved out of wood. You'll be fast and have eyes in the back of your head. Nobody will ever have better harrowing stories of near misses than you. You will see a New York that many of us will never see, a city that disappears as it is sped by rolled up windows or slept through subway tunnels. Good luck.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)

"""...netherworldish border crossings of anarchic traffic and reckless pedestrians...""

Well said."

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Commuting like a messenger

"John Miller wrote:
""I say this with absolutely no NY bike snobbery: you're going to look more like a messenger than you ever thought possible, because they know something about efficiency and not wasting an ounce or a watt.""

Right. So no ""freddy junk"" like fenders and a rack. And also no junk like gears and brakes.

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)

That's insane! You are not seriously suggesting that he ride 60 miles per day with a Timbuk2 messenger bag on his back?! Bike messengers wear those bags to access what is in them while on their bikes, and to be able to hop off and quickly get inside a building. It's certainly not for comfort or for speed on the bike. Maybe you've just never tried a rack and panniers? I assure you that for commuting (or for touring) they are a much, much better choice.

Anonymous's picture
John (not verified)

"That was great! and you're right, no doubt I will look like a messenger, pretty close to that now. There are already day's when I come in sopping wet, or covered with road spludge. The good news is that there are only two other guys that I work with, and they're, well let's just say that it wouldn't matter. I did note a touch of sarcasm in your post and you're right again, it's a crazy notion, but anything I can do to stay off the train and ""buy"" more time outside...2 hours is a long commute, but it's also ""the gym"" and fresh air. The route would take me over the Marine Parkway Bridge, up Flatbush Ave and over the Brooklyn Bridge, so it's not at all like the bike path. I've been a tried and true ""street rider"" before and I must admit, it's a lot less sressfull not to mention faster on the bike path. Lot's of challenges ahead...
Thanks for all the great comments!"

Anonymous's picture
Natalia Lincoln (not verified)

Wow. You're going to take Flatbush Ave.? Yikes. I prefer the Bergen Street/Dean Street bike lanes going parallel. OK, the so-called bike lanes are often commandeered by UPS and other four-wheeled stinkers, but at least those streets aren't quite as busy as Flatbush.

Also: Brooklyn Bridge -- expect to go slow. The blissful oblivion rate is high among pedestrians, as they stumble around with their cameras and toddlers, genuinely shocked to see bikes in the bike lane. I use the north Manhattan Bridge bike path whenever possible.

My commute used to be 12 miles each way, now it's 7. I miss the extra 10 miles a day.

P.S. Fred all the way for me, I'm afraid. Rack & panniers on my touring bike. That's what a touring bike is built for in the first place, and for the amount of dodging I do in traffic, I like not being top-heavy with a messenger bag. My back is happy about it too.

Have fun!

Anonymous's picture
Rich (not verified)
Commuting, racks & fenders

Go for it. But you might not want to do the 30 mi. every day. That could get wearing. Try 2 or 3 days a week as a goal. My commute is about 20-22 miles roundtrip, depending on my route, from Norwood Bronx to the UWS. I do it every day if it's not raining or snowing.

I don't agree with either John Miller's advice or his tone that fenders or racks are ""freddy"" stuff.
-I currently use a seatpost rack for light loads, and it can be removed easily. Previous commuter bikes I owned had blackburn racks which are light and strong. I find myself occasionally hauling stuff to and from work--more stuff than I want to put in a backpack or messenger bag. Hauling heavy, awkward or large stuff with a rack is a lot easier on the back.
-SKS makes some great removeable road fenders. Someone on a club ride I attended had a pair. They were very secure, no rattling, and installed/removed in a few seconds. She got them from Sids. Fenders keep your shoes and your rear from getting soaked if you get caught in the rain.


Anonymous's picture
Diane Goodwin (not verified)
Englewood to SoHo Commute

Hi John,

My commute is 32 round trip. It can be stressful but other times it is opposite.

The beginning was hard as I only had 10 mile round trip previously. I would have spent the same time or longer in a car driving. Oh, the subway and bus are not my thing. My asthma has improved along with blood pressure dropping (never a problem) and weight dropped more than 20lbs.

It's a great way to get the miles in and have weekends free. Your additional miles is great training for long distance events as well.

Regarding weather ... be careful and have options. I use a Caradice SQL bag to block the water over my rear wheel - it's such a great bag! During winter I wasn't too cold - I learned how to dress appropriately. Heavy rain can keep me off the bike.

I ride in almost any weather though. Another benefit about commuting is that you can actually meet people.

Hopefully your commute is not all junky miles ... otherwise you might find your average speed on regular rides dropping.

Good luck,

Anonymous's picture
esass (not verified)
Longest Commute

By no means the longest, but my commute is 16 miles each way.

Anonymous's picture
Tony Mantione (not verified)
long commute

"John, I reccomend you try it @ least a couple days a week.some 15 years, or so, ago I and former club president Lee Gelobter ( may he rest in peace) did almost the same commute you're thinking about,in reverse. From Bayridge area to Lynbrook, about 25 miles one way. Now I'm ""upset"" that my commute is only 8 miles one way. But I often take the long way on nice days and turn it into a 20 miler. I enjoy full showers @ the job, and I work the 4pm to 12 midnight shift . not much traffic when I leave home or work. I keep extra change of garments and toiletries @ work and yes I ride year round w/ fenders and rack, I don't need to carry much. Good luck , Ciao,, tony M."

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