Year-round commute cut short

Discussion in 'Road Bikes' started by boxhill, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. boxhill

    boxhill New Member

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    Hi folks,

    Last night my other half told me—politely but firmly—that she's putting her foot down about me continuing my bike commute as the days get shorter and the evenings get darker. She wanted me to call it quits till spring as of last night, but I somehow convinced her to "let me" keep riding until the middle of the month. I was kicking myself as she said this, after having apparently jinxed myself by thinking earlier in the day about much I was happy to still be commuting by bike and looking forward to doing so through the fall and winter.

    Last year I got away with continuing to ride through the fall and winter (as long as the roads were dry) by simply being my stubborn self and not listening to her when she had asked—a little less firmly—that I stop. Last night I kept hoping she would crack a grin and say she was kidding, but I think she's serious this time.

    I woke up this morning thinking about coming up with some way to reverse her decision, beyond stubbornly continuing to ride past the October 15th "deadline" she set last night. She knows all the arguments I could probably give in my favor, and they still don't inspire enough of her confidence in my safety. I've got lights, reflective stickers on my bike and big reflective patches on my bag, and though I could get more lights and stickers and wear more obnoxiously reflective clothing, I still don't know that they'd help to change her mind. "It's the other drivers I don't trust, not you," she's said before. And I don't disagree—there's not a whole lot I can do about improving their skills beyond doing everything I can to be visible to them, and too often that isn't enough.

    I'll probably just go along with what she wants, as much as it disappoints me. The evening time spent riding home will be good time to get back to the gym, after my eight+ month hiatus. It's still bittersweet.

    So, my questions to you are...

    Are any of you planning to commute through the fall and winter?

    Have you encountered resistance from spouses or significant others against your plans to do so?

    Have their fears about the hazards of nighttime commuting come ever true for any of you? (I hope not!)

    If you do commute year round—without anyone in your life objecting to it—do you genuinely feel that riding in the evening during the fall/winter is as "more dangerous" as everybody says it's supposed to be?
     
  2. gatorguy

    gatorguy New Member

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    First, I don't commute because of distance but I love riding at night.

    I have to say that I find your post a bit disturbing in that you are allowing someone to "put their foot down" where it comes to an activity that you apparently enjoy. It seems to me that someone else has control of your life. It's not like you are going to the bar every night and the family life is suffering from it.

    I think YOU have to weigh the risks and do what YOU think is right.
     

  3. boxhill

    boxhill New Member

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    I agree with you to a point; riding my bike home at night should hardly be causing familial strife and there are far worse things I could be doing that would warrant that kind of discomfort and disapproval.

    On the other hand, I believe that sometimes it's wise to choose one's battles, just as it's wise to be selective about the tactics used in those battles. Yes, I love to ride and I want to keep riding, but—this time around, at least—I'd rather not make a habit of annoying or upsetting the one other person I share my (rather small) home with just because I'm doing something I think I should be able to, whether it's out of respect for that person or a desire not to have to deal with the negativity that activity would bring out in her night after night. Despite having gone and done what I wanted by riding through the season last year, I do respect her opinions and am looking for a constructive way to address her fears and discomfort rather than blowing off how she feels and just doing what I want.
     
  4. gatorguy

    gatorguy New Member

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    Well, once again, you have to do what you have to do. It wouldn't work well for me to have someone setting "deadlines" and making demands of my activities, provided said activities are legal and within the realm of being reasonable.

    But then, I am no longer married so who am I to speak ;)
     
  5. HandsomeRyan

    HandsomeRyan ♥'s Bicycles

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    I will continue to bike year round more as a product of not owning a car than my desire to be wet/cold.

    As long as you bike safely and use appropriate lights I'd say you should keep riding if it's what you love.
     
  6. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    I got hit by a car. I don't know yet. I'm thinking of riding for fun after I heal, but I don't think I'm going to commute anymore. I was losing weight and starting to feel good but it puts me on the road at the most dangerous times. I've never really night rode though so I don't know. Hmmm... you made me think.
     
  7. hophead

    hophead New Member Tavern Member

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    I will probably continue to occasionally commute depending on the weather and other factors. This evening for instance, we have a weekly night ride at Schaeffer farm at 7:00. I get off work @ 6:00 and it's a 12 mile commute for me so I have to drive to work to make it in time for the ride. We do this ride every Thursday as long as the trails remain dry. If you do any mtn biking, this is an option which gets you off the road and into the woods. The Gambrill night rides will be starting soon as well. You do need a good light for these rides. A typical commuter light will not cut it.

    No s/o resistance for me. My gf is an avid cyclist as well, so no problem there.

    Yes, I have fears of commuting in the dark and light for that matter. That's why I take the path on Great Seneca hwy rather than 355. It's twice as long, but much safer. I don't know what route you take from Frederick, but if it's mostly road, I'd be hesitant to continue commuting by bike throughout the fall and winter.
     
  8. boxhill

    boxhill New Member

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    I'm still doing just doing the 4 miles between my house and the train station behind Target, so it's definitely not as risky a proposition as going the whole way down from Frederick. That being said, the most dangerous stretch is about a mile on 355 right before the Target shopping center—it's definitely not pleasant riding there in the dark, and that's one part of the ride I wouldn't miss.

    The Gambrill night rides sound like a lot of fun and I'm hoping to participate in one at some point, but I think I'm going to need to work on some (very) basic riding technique—in daylight—before I can join in!

    On the subject of lighting, I have been thinking about getting a better "see where you're going" light, as opposed to the "be seen" one I have now. Do you have any suggestions based on your experience doing the nighttime MTB rides?
     
  9. hophead

    hophead New Member Tavern Member

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    Gambrill is a pretty rocky technical ride, so if your not used to that kind of stuff, day riding it first is a really good idea.

    If you work in Montgomery County, there are plenty of not-so-technical night rides going on now. In addition to Schaeffer on Thursdays, there are night rides at Black Hill and Little Bennett. Check out the MORE website for the details.

    As for a light, the best ones for night riding on trails are the high intensity LED's. HID's are also nice, but last generation technology. A good LED headlight is going to cost a minimum of around $100.00. If you're not sure about getting into night riding and don't want to fork over that kind of cash, we always have extra lights on these rides for those without to borrow for the ride. I think were bringing 3 extra tonight.

    One light that has become instantly popular is the Magicshine. It's only around $90 and cranks out some super high lumens. I think around 1000. There was one on the ride last week. Here's a thread on MORE discussing it:
    The brightest little cheap light ever!! Magicshine outshines them all - MORE Forums
     
  10. boxhill

    boxhill New Member

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    Sweet, thanks!
     
  11. sandlynx

    sandlynx sandlynx

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    I too have people who are concerned that I ride all year round and in all kinds of weather. But, they have never made any demands that I stop. They know that I wouldn't stop my favorite sport for any reason. Yes, they are concerned, but what activity doesn't have risks or hazards to it?
     
  12. johne5

    johne5 chef de gopher

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    I gave up cycling about seven or eight years ago after a near miss by a car that scared the crap out of me. After over 30 years of bike riding, and closing in on 200k miles, I just stopped. My weight went up, my blood pressure went up, my strength, endurance and general fitness all went down, and I was up to four different prescriptions for my "health". The year before last, I got back into cycling, my blood pressure is better than the norm, my fitness is better than most people half my age, and I don't take any more medication.
    So, doing nothing, in my humble opinion, is far more dangerous than riding a bike.
    I also commute (currently 30+ miles round trip) and ride home at midnight. Having good lights, doing all you can to ride safely, making yourself visible, and taking all the precautions necessary, go along way towards making for a safe and enjoyable ride/commute.
    Lights! Get GOOD lights! Front and rear.
     
  13. newleaf150

    newleaf150 Deranged Touring Cyclist Tavern Member

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    I don't commute by bike atm due to distance and time factors, but I do ride after dark a lot during the winter months. I've found that in many ways, I feel better being on the road with cars after dark as opposed to in daylight. Why? Lights and visibility.

    I run lights and wear bright/hi-vis clothing any time I'm cycling, day or night, but the lights are much more visible during the night. Passing traffic seems to slow down a bit more and give me a little more room at night than during the day.

    It's obviously quite subjective, but it seems like drivers pay me a bit more attention after dark. Ymmv.
     
  14. Poolie

    Poolie New Member

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    Commuting to work where I live would be a death wish so I can only daydream about it.

    My wife would say what she always tells me. "As long as your life insurance policy is paid, you do what you want to do". -- sometimes I actually think she means it.