General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Biking in a City Rss Feed  
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2014-05-01 7:49 AM


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Subject: Biking in a City
Hi everyone, I'm somewhat new to triathlons (specifically biking) and just bought my first road bike a little over a month ago. I've been taking it out on the weekends and going for rides, getting used to it, etc. but one of the biggest problems I see going forward is that I live in the heart of downtown of a fairly large city (Boston). I have no car to transport my bike and myself out to the suburbs for long rides and so far I've been able to consistently go for ~2 hour rides every Saturday and Sunday morning (early, before there are cars on the roads), but I still feel like I spend a large amount of my time sitting at stop signs, busy intersections and weaving into traffic because someone blocked the bike lane. It's incredibly difficult to just ride, especially in the mornings because even if I wake up at 5am, the roads are already crowded. I've tried biking/walking/running trails but those are 10 miles max and usually crowded with people.

Does anyone else have this issue? Should I just suck it up and keep doing my start and stop rides? I've been thinking about also buying a bike trainer so I can ride indoors, especially during the week before work - is this something others have done? Any advice would be appreciated!

Thanks!


2014-05-01 7:57 AM
in reply to: pcon

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City

Originally posted by pcon Hi everyone, I'm somewhat new to triathlons (specifically biking) and just bought my first road bike a little over a month ago. I've been taking it out on the weekends and going for rides, getting used to it, etc. but one of the biggest problems I see going forward is that I live in the heart of downtown of a fairly large city (Boston). I have no car to transport my bike and myself out to the suburbs for long rides and so far I've been able to consistently go for ~2 hour rides every Saturday and Sunday morning (early, before there are cars on the roads), but I still feel like I spend a large amount of my time sitting at stop signs, busy intersections and weaving into traffic because someone blocked the bike lane. It's incredibly difficult to just ride, especially in the mornings because even if I wake up at 5am, the roads are already crowded. I've tried biking/walking/running trails but those are 10 miles max and usually crowded with people. Does anyone else have this issue? Should I just suck it up and keep doing my start and stop rides? I've been thinking about also buying a bike trainer so I can ride indoors, especially during the week before work - is this something others have done? Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

I think pretty much everyone eventually buys a bike trainer, often for many of the reasons you state. It's about the most useful piece of equipment you can buy.

2014-05-01 7:59 AM
in reply to: pcon


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Subject: RE: Biking in a City
A trainer would be good for weekdays. I used to live in DC (which has a lot of bike trails), and I was fortunately able to get to the trails for early evening rides during rush hour for the commuters. Try to find out a "best route possible given the circumstances." Then you can be confident that you have the intersections and light timing issues for your route memorized - which helps a lot in terms of feeling safer on the streets.
2014-05-01 8:20 AM
in reply to: pcon

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City
Originally posted by pcon

Hi everyone, I'm somewhat new to triathlons (specifically biking) and just bought my first road bike a little over a month ago. I've been taking it out on the weekends and going for rides, getting used to it, etc. but one of the biggest problems I see going forward is that I live in the heart of downtown of a fairly large city (Boston). I have no car to transport my bike and myself out to the suburbs for long rides and so far I've been able to consistently go for ~2 hour rides every Saturday and Sunday morning (early, before there are cars on the roads), but I still feel like I spend a large amount of my time sitting at stop signs, busy intersections and weaving into traffic because someone blocked the bike lane. It's incredibly difficult to just ride, especially in the mornings because even if I wake up at 5am, the roads are already crowded. I've tried biking/walking/running trails but those are 10 miles max and usually crowded with people.

Does anyone else have this issue? Should I just suck it up and keep doing my start and stop rides? I've been thinking about also buying a bike trainer so I can ride indoors, especially during the week before work - is this something others have done? Any advice would be appreciated!

Thanks!


As mentioned almost everyone will have an indoor trainer of some type to use it's just not a whole lot of fun to use them even with some of the product like trainer road, Kinda like using a treadmill Vs running outside.

This Makes me realize just how fortunate that I am, My City has over 300KM of multiuse Paved path system right thru the heart of the city along a river that goes thru it and connects many many parks they even put in underpasses under the bridges so that you don't have to cross the roads and I can be on it from my house in less the 5 minutes, Also from my house to open country roads and farm fields is about a 10 minute ride. I should be thanking my lucky stars I guess.
2014-05-01 8:45 AM
in reply to: pcon

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City
I am in the situation that a trainer is not an option. I have a spin bike in my basement which kept me ticking over in the winter.

My commute is in a small town. But even on a good run I am stopped 4 or 5 times for lights or 4 way stops. Plus I am currently covered in curb cr4p until the city get out and sweep the roads.

I try my best to treat the stops as a chance to work my legs.

My only piece of luck is that I have some very nice country roads nearby (Niagara Parkway) which in some places provide 10k or more of unbroken tarmac. Not that I am getting many long rides in.
2014-05-01 9:10 AM
in reply to: pcon

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City

Originally posted by pcon Hi everyone, I'm somewhat new to triathlons (specifically biking) and just bought my first road bike a little over a month ago. I've been taking it out on the weekends and going for rides, getting used to it, etc. but one of the biggest problems I see going forward is that I live in the heart of downtown of a fairly large city (Boston). I have no car to transport my bike and myself out to the suburbs for long rides and so far I've been able to consistently go for ~2 hour rides every Saturday and Sunday morning (early, before there are cars on the roads), but I still feel like I spend a large amount of my time sitting at stop signs, busy intersections and weaving into traffic because someone blocked the bike lane. It's incredibly difficult to just ride, especially in the mornings because even if I wake up at 5am, the roads are already crowded. I've tried biking/walking/running trails but those are 10 miles max and usually crowded with people. Does anyone else have this issue? Should I just suck it up and keep doing my start and stop rides? I've been thinking about also buying a bike trainer so I can ride indoors, especially during the week before work - is this something others have done? Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

 

In addition to buying a trainer (which is an excellent idea) check with your LBS for information on groups/clubs. You may be able to connect with others that do have transportation and can catch a lift out to quieter roads on weekends. The additional upside is riding with others will make you stronger.



2014-05-01 10:35 AM
in reply to: kcarroll

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City
It's very difficult to get out and ride outside during the week. As for weekend long rides, I have found (living in NYC) that bringing your bike on the subway/ferry/train to a determined point where you can get some breathing room can lead to more quality rides just outside the city center. The upside of living in such a crowded place is that you can hop on a train quite easily and get 20 minutes outside the city for some open air. While I'm not sure if the T or Amtrak allow bikes, it might be something to look into.

2014-05-01 10:40 AM
in reply to: pcon

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City

I live in Chicago and I have found that my weekday rides are best served on the trainer. The weekday rides, for me, are just too short (60-90 mins) to warrant a city ride - too many stops and starts. On the weekends I ride with a group and we can get in some solid mileage. Check with your local bike shops or tri clubs and see what the situation is for group rides. I also don't have a car, so I ride up to the meeting point for these rides, and that serves as a good warmup/cool down, as that it still in the city (so the stops and starts issue).

2014-05-01 11:20 AM
in reply to: pcon

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City
I'm in the Boston area too, although I don't live right in the city. I work in the city though and have bike commuted on occasion, so I do have experience cycling within the city limits. First, you're right, biking in the city is a bummer and I don't enjoy it at all. If you want to get in some more enjoyable riding, you're going to have to get out to the surrounding towns. I'm not sure where in the city you live, but if you don't have a car, you could take the T out to the end of some of the lines and bike from there, then take the T back. It looks like all lines except for the Green Line allow you to take bikes on at any time on the weekends: http://mbta.com/riding_the_t/bikes/

If you went to Alewife, there's the Minuteman path out there. That's only 10M or so, but it dumps out in Bedford and there's loops out to towns such as Concord that you can do on the roads from there. I know some loops in Wakefield too, which would be a relatively short ride from Oak Grove if you prefer the Orange Line.

Finally, yes, definitely look into a trainer. These options are good for the weekend, but obviously not practical for weekdays. I tend to ride on my trainer during the week, then head outside when I can over the weekend. Good luck!
2014-05-01 2:40 PM
in reply to: pcon

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City

How long does it take you to ride out of the city?  Maybe just cruise it as a warm up till you get to more open roads, then focus on your ride, then cool down by cruising back into town?  I know a lot of guys that do this where I live.  May not be as big a city as Boston, but just trying to emphasize that not every minute you spend on your bike has to be training focused.

2014-05-01 5:49 PM
in reply to: Jason N

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Subject: RE: Biking in a City
Sometimes you can carve out a 2 mile loop and just do laps. Pretty boring but it does get you outside. I've ridden by bike around Winchester a few times. I know what you mean about the traffic.


2014-05-01 6:29 PM
in reply to: pcon


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Subject: RE: Biking in a City

I will actually bet that the majority of triathletes who live in an urban area like you do, rely on indoor trainers or gym bikes for the bulk of their weekday rides. 

Indoor training works great if you can swing it. Having a good setup helps a lot, space being the main limiting issue in urban spaces.

2014-05-01 9:34 PM
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Subject: RE: Biking in a City
Definitely, invest in a trainer. I live most of the year in Saigon, and the traffic is horrific. If I didn't have a trainer (and my gym membship--they have a kind of stationary that's similar to a road bike, with a power meter, where I do some of my speed work) I would only be able to bike once a week. There are plenty of ways to make trainer rides more bearable--music, videos, programs like Sufferfest, Trainer Road, Jorge's off-season torture... uh...wait....cycling program....on this site. My latest find is a bunch of YouTube videos by someone named Bob Ryskamp that let you watch footage of various scenic rides in the Swiss Alps (probably his Go Pro footage) while slaving away on your trainer. Depends on your capacity for self-delusion, but I can get through pretty hard rides with those! I even play games like seeing how far I can get before the cows come down the road or he almost hits the little kid on roller skates, etc..


Also, check with a bike shop about group rides. Sometimes there is a quick route out to quieter roads that's not obvious. I've lived on and off in my hometown (Eugene, Oregon) for almost 30 years, but it wasn't until I joined a local club for some rides that I discovered an extension to the urban multi-use trail that appears to be a dead end in a generic suburb but, if you know where to turn, is actually a great shortcut to one of the most popular hilly routes outside of town. Finally, as others have suggested, maybe you can find a short, low-traffic route and do loops. Sad to say, but my only non-trainer bike training (with the exception of an occasional MTB joyride thru surrounding villages that you couldn't do on a road bike) consists of a 4-mile loop of an industrial park. It's not quite as bad as it sounds--light industry, so no smokestacks, and some trees and landscaping in parts, but still......not thrill a minute. I would go nuts without a structured workout. Can't afford a power meter so I train by heart rate and try to hit targets for each part of the ride. The plus side of this is it really lets you focus on getting a quality workout. I have trained for races up to and including half ironman with this setup, so it's definitely possible.

Edited by Hot Runner 2014-05-01 9:35 PM
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