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New job, new challenges, new commute--life is good

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New job, new challenges, new commute--life is good

Old 05-18-16, 06:23 PM
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tsl
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New job, new challenges, new commute--life is good

Last month, out of the blue, I was asked to interview for a different position in another department of the City. I had a week of deep soul-searching after the interview, before deciding that if offered, I'd accept the position. It was offered, and I accepted. The gory details are in this blog post: End of an era.

I'm no longer with the City's public library. While I joked before that I was only a bureaucrat, working now in a cubicle, pushing paper and nudging pixels for the Bureau of Parking, I'm well and truly a bureaucrat.

Halfway through my second week in the new position and it's starting to come together. While I miss large swaths of my job at the library, I found how truly stressful that position was. I arrive home now after work feeling relaxed and ready to tackle what's next in the day, rather than feeling drained and able to do nothing more than stare at the walls burbling to myself.

I'd been concerned about the commute. I'm only 2˝ miles from work. The direct route is turn left out of the driveway, go to the T intersection where the street ends, turn right, go up three lights, turn right again, and park in the first block. Actually, that sounds even more thrilling than the ride really is. (For the humor-challenged, that's a joke, son.)

On the other hand, come winter, I won't be complaining about commuting in snow squalls.

I was concerned about getting decent miles in. This is the time of year when I'd take my 17-mile long loop to work, and a 13-mile cut of it coming home. It's not that I chase miles for the sake of numbers. It takes me 50 miles a week just to feel good and normal, I feel fantastic over 100 miles a week, and like Superman over 150.

The going to work part was doable at the library since I started after lunch. Now that would put me on a busy four-lane with no shoulder, granite curbs, and only 10-foot wide lanes—all in morning rush-hour. No thanks.

I've found I can get 24 miles a day on a couple of nice routes. Down from 30, but since I now have a five-day workweek instead of four, it's the same 120 miles at the end of the week.

My new preferred AM route totals just shy of nine miles, starting through sides streets paralleling a major road, which I have to use for only a quarter-mile to get across the freeway. Then it's residential streets along the north face of Pinnacle Hill, through a county park, a 200-acre cemetery, and the University of Rochester's River Campus.

I cross the river on the University's ped bridge, then ride downstream on the Riverway MUP, jumping into traffic at the Hall O' Justice, bumping bars with the traffic past the County Office Building, City Hall, and the Federal Building. (Lawyers everywhere!) Even an old guy like me can keep up with traffic through there.

My cubie is less than 100 yards from this:



Which seems pretty but not really impressive until I tell you the height of the falls is 190 feet, higher than Niagara. (Further downstream, we have the Middle Falls and the Lower Falls as well.) That photo's taken from a decommissioned bridge, now a ped bridge, spanning the quarter mile wide gorge, 200 feet above the river. It's the first leg of my 15+ mile ride home.

I battle through traffic for the three-quarters of a mile, made worse by construction on that bridge you see behind the High Falls. Last week, I kept my place in traffic. This week I'm starting to hop curbs to get around the snarls. Then it's upstream on the Riverway to the UR, and linking up with my old cut of the long loop home.

Which has its own detour due to construction, but it means I get a nice straight descent where even with moderate headwinds, fenders, full panniers, and the dynamo hub running, I topped out at 34.1 mph the other day. (It's faster on the Litespeed, natch, and with today's headwinds, I reached extra-legal speeds.)

Variety's the spice, and the new commute has it. From bumper-to-bumper traffic snarls, to quiet along the river. From 900 feet of hill climbing in the first four miles in the morning, to flat along the canal in the afternoon. The traffic, noise, hustle and bustle of the concrete canyons, to the quiet of the river and the cemetery.

I can hardly wait to get on the road in the morning, and all day I can look at my bike locked outside, thinking of the ride home.

Gosh, I have it good.
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Old 05-18-16, 06:38 PM
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nice post, thanks for letting us know what's new
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Old 05-18-16, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
Last month, out of the blue, I was asked to interview for a different position in another department of the City

I was concerned about getting decent miles in. This is the time of year when I'd take my 17-mile long loop to work, and a 13-mile cut of it coming home. It's not that I chase miles for the sake of numbers. It takes me 50 miles a week just to feel good and normal, I feel fantastic over 100 miles a week, and like Superman over 150.

The going to work part was doable at the library since I started after lunch. Now that would put me on a busy four-lane with no shoulder, granite curbs, and only 10-foot wide lanes—all in morning rush-hour. No thanks….

Variety's the spice, and the new commute has it. From bumper-to-bumper traffic snarls, to quiet along the river. From 900 feet of hill climbing in the first four miles in the morning, to flat along the canal in the afternoon. The traffic, noise, hustle and bustle of the concrete canyons, to the quiet of the river and the cemetery.

I can hardly wait to get on the road in the morning, and all day I can look at my bike locked outside, thinking of the ride home.

Gosh, I have it good.

Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
nice post, thanks for letting us know what's new
Thanks for this post. I too think gratefully about my commute, and all the variety it presents.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Humbly, if Bike Forums ever had a Best Commute Award, I would be a frontrunner.
I particularly agree with your assessment of weekly mileage, though at over 150 miles per week, I call it hyper-fit. Since March 6, through June 6, I have been engaged with a fitness challenge at work. This past week, I rode about 150 miles, via extended commuting routes, and still am in fourth place (of about 40 participants), neck and neck for third place.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 05-19-16 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 05-19-16, 04:51 AM
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Congratulations. It's funny how, for a cyclist, the shorter commute is sometimes a mixed blessing.
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Old 05-19-16, 05:07 AM
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cool man, i moved around quite a bit in the last 7 years (5 countries) and i find that some new pluses and new minuses appear.

good luck, as i am also struggling with being walking distance away from work.
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Old 05-19-16, 05:12 AM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by highrpm View Post
Congratulations. It's funny how, for a cyclist, the shorter commute is sometimes a mixed blessing.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…I particularly agree with your [tsl's] assessment of weekly mileage, though at over 150 miles per week, I call it hyper-fit…This past week, I rode about 150 miles, via extended commuting routes…
+1 agree. For me, a ride should be at least 10 miles long, and my straight, shortest commuting routes are 14 miles. A “long” ride is at least 40 miles, IMO.

BTW, @highrpm, where is Bruce Township, MI if I may ask.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Often when I see a post from Michigan, I like to say hi, as a native myself, and where I got my start in a cycling lifestyle.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…Back in the 60’s in the Motor City, I had an “English Racer,’ and longed to tour at about age 14, but then joined the car culture. In Ann Arbor MI in the 70’s I really realized the utility of bicycles for commuting, and began touring on a five-speed Schwinn Suburban, but soon bought a Mercier as did my girlfriend, later my wife. We toured in Michigan and Ontario.

In 1977 we moved to Boston on our bikes, as a bicycling honeymoon from Los Angeles to Washington, DC and then took the train up to Boston…
We visit Michigan about two or three times a year to see family in Macomb and Oakland Counties, and I always bring or borrow a bike.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 05-19-16 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 05-19-16, 06:01 AM
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@Jim, Bruce Twp is in Macomb County. West of Romeo.
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Old 05-19-16, 06:27 AM
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I think being living close to work trumps everything else. You have the option of taking the short route or the long one. Living far from your work, you only have one option--the long route, and while that might sound appealing on morning when you're feeling strong, when you're feeling sluggish or when it's -30, or raining, or snowing, or wind from hell, you'll be glad you don't have far to go.

BTW, congrats on the new position.
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Old 05-19-16, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
... still am in fourth place (of about 40 participants), neck and neck for third place.
You must WIN, Jim. Do whatever it takes ... must win...
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Old 05-19-16, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by highrpm View Post
@Jim, Bruce Twp is in Macomb County. West of Romeo.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…We visit Michigan about two or three times a year to see family in Macomb and Oakland Counties, and I always bring or borrow a bike.
Thanks for the reply. My rides in Macomb and Oakland counties have been:
  • loops out of Fraser
  • from Fraser to Rochester Hills, to my sister’s house
  • Metro Beach bikepath, and Painted Creek bikepath from Rochester
  • loops in Stony Creek and Kensington Metroparks
  • service drive, both sides, of I-696
I find riding in much of southern Macomb County harrowing due to lack of shoulders, and I often ride the deserted sidewalks, though often discontinuous and on alternate sides of the road.

One trip I often think about is from Fraser to Richmond, to see an old friend, but would likely need a ride back.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 05-19-16 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 05-19-16, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
I think being living close to work trumps everything else. You have the option of taking the short route or the long one. Living far from your work, you only have one option--the long route, and while that might sound appealing on morning when you're feeling strong, when you're feeling sluggish or when it's -30, or raining, or snowing, or wind from hell, you'll be glad you don't have far to go

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
+1 agree. For me, a ride should be at least 10 miles long, and my straight, shortest commuting routes are 14 miles. A “long” ride is at least 40 miles, IMO.
One reason I consider my commuting situation so great is that whereas I’m 14 miles from work, I have the alternative of a Commuter Rail, about one mile from home, with a station about 500 yards from work. So if I cycle, I have to do the distance, but have a nice alternative (besides driving a car), subject to the train schedule and delays. Not to brag, but to illustrate the possibilities.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I think of my commute in terms of satisfaction:

Cycling >>>>>Train>>>>>>>>>>>>>Driving,

But another dimension is time:
Driving>>>>>>>>>Train (scheduling)>>>>Cycling.

Then there’s Focus (concentration):
Cycling>>>>>>>>>Driving>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Train

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 05-20-16 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 05-19-16, 07:39 AM
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Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on the new job!

A few weeks I faced a similar situation, having interviewed for a new job, and while I end up passing the offer (for many reasons) one of my main concerns was how much reduced my commute would have been if I had taken it (6kms/day vs. my current 30kms/day, although it would have allowed me to ride everyday).

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
+1 agree. For me, a ride should be at least 10 miles long, and my straight, shortest commuting routes are 14 miles. A “long” ride is at least 40 miles, IMO.
+1 Anything less than my current commute doesn't feel very 'worthy' to ride. A good recreational ride is at least 40kms for me.
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Old 05-19-16, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
I think being living close to work trumps everything else. You have the option of taking the short route or the long one.
yeah, you have the option to take a longer route, but in practice i've found that i almost never actually take it.

since moving two years ago, my commute to work went from 15 miles one way down to just 5 miles one-way.

i can count on one hand the number of times i've actually taken a longer commute route just for the fun of it.

when my commute was 15 miles one-way i had no choice but to rack up the miles. i was a lot fitter back then.
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Old 05-19-16, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
yeah, you have the option to take a longer route, but in practice i've found that i almost never actually take it.

since moving two years ago, my commute to work went from 15 miles one way down to just 5 miles one-way.

i can count on one hand the number of times i've actually taken a longer commute route just for the fun of it.

when my commute was 15 miles one-way i had no choice but to rack up the miles. i was a lot fitter back then.
I understand your point, because my commute is just about 12 miles but I used to take the 'long route' on the way here and do perhaps 25 or 30 miles before arriving. I also wasn't riding every day either. It'd be like ride one day and drive the next. I've stopped doing the extra loops and have just gone to riding almost every day, regardless of weather or fatigue/soreness. I figure I could handle 12 miles even if I'm not too strong. Do I ever wish that I worked farther from home so I could commute longer? No. Do I ever wished I worked closer to home so my commute could be shorter? Yes, all the time. To each his own, I guess.
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Old 05-19-16, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
Halfway through my second week in the new position and it's starting to come together. While I miss large swaths of my job at the library, I found how truly stressful that position was. I arrive home now after work feeling relaxed and ready to tackle what's next in the day, rather than feeling drained and able to do nothing more than stare at the walls burbling to myself.
This made me laugh. Congrats on the new job.
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Old 05-19-16, 12:46 PM
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Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul

Congratulations on the new, less-stressful job. Kind of sad that librarians don't make more than parking bureaucrats , but on the plus side parking customers will surely appreciate your excellent customer service.

The deciding factor in my taking my current job was that it was ~6 miles from home, with excellent bike trails. I began bike commuting because of this job, and the distance and conditions were ideal. On sunny Friday afternoons, there's nothing that matches taking the long way home, past the reservoir or over back country roads.


Up with the sun, gone with the wind
She always said I was lazy
Leavin' my home, leavin' my friends
Runnin' when things get too crazy
Out to the road, out 'neath the stars
Feelin' the breeze, passin' the cars

Women have come, women have gone
Everyone tryin' to cage me
Some were so sweet, I barely got free
Others, they only enraged me

Sometimes at night, I see their faces
I feel the traces they've left on my soul
Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul
-- Bob Seger
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Old 05-19-16, 01:01 PM
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I am glad to hear life is good, that is the way it should be!

I also concur with your statement below.

[QUOTE=tsl;18779040
I was concerned about getting decent miles in. This is the time of year when I'd take my 17-mile long loop to work, and a 13-mile cut of it coming home. It's not that I chase miles for the sake of numbers. It takes me 50 miles a week just to feel good and normal, I feel fantastic over 100 miles a week, and like Superman over 150.[/QUOTE]
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Old 05-19-16, 01:02 PM
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I just moved this past Saturday and my commute doubled from 14 miles one way to 27.7 miles. I used to arrive home feeling completely fine and ready to go after the 28 miles, but now I arrive and my legs are fairly wasted after the 55 miles. It isn't just the distance; my climbing almost quadrupled. *sigh. I think I'll have to take the train or something every now and again.
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Old 05-19-16, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Do I ever wish that I worked farther from home so I could commute longer? No. Do I ever wished I worked closer to home so my commute could be shorter? Yes, all the time. To each his own, I guess.
i'm not saying that i'd necessarily like to live further from work than i currently do (particularly not on those bitterly cold january mornings), i was just pointing out that the "you can always take the long way home" mantra hasn't actually shaken out for me since we moved, giving me a radically shorter commute. though in my case, the move also coincided with (and was prompted by) my wife and i welcoming our first two children into the world, so my priorities regarding how i spend my free time have also radically changed. if we were still childless, perhaps i would take advantage of the long way home more often.

i wasn't really complaining about having a 5 mile commute, more just pointing out the reality that just because you can take a longer route doesn't mean that you necessarily will. when i lived 15 miles from work i didn't have much of a choice in the matter, i either biked the 15 miles to work or i would have needed a new job.
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Old 05-19-16, 03:14 PM
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yeah, I wish I lived closer to work all the time. Now, if there was a way to extend the commute that I liked, it would be great. I think if I lived too far from work, even though it would be a rideable distance for me, I wouldn't do it that often. And that would be a real problem. The furthest I have ever lived from work was 11 miles, and that was a tough sell some mornings.
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Old 05-20-16, 04:51 PM
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I like the sound of your new position. As far as cycling a shorter commute I suggest giving fixed gear a try. Recently my commuting days have dropped considerably. With the reduced commitment I swapped out the gears on one of my bikes. The one day per week I do commute to the office now is pure joy. I also have gotten hooked on the fixed gear thing to the point I ride it most of the time. Give it a try.
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Old 05-20-16, 06:45 PM
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Cool! Congrats on the new job. Hope you enjoy it.

I just switched jobs a month ago, and am now in a similar boat, except my commute doubled from 10 to 20 km one way. The 7 a.m. start time does not help. :-/ It's May now, so for a few months it'll be fine, but as the days start getting shorter, and then it snows... *shivers*
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Old 05-20-16, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
yeah, you have the option to take a longer route, but in practice i've found that i almost never actually take it.

since moving two years ago, my commute to work went from 15 miles one way down to just 5 miles one-way.

i can count on one hand the number of times i've actually taken a longer commute route just for the fun of it.

when my commute was 15 miles one-way i had no choice but to rack up the miles. i was a lot fitter back then.
My thoughts exactly. I moved closer to work very deliberately, thinking I could always stretch it out if I wanted to. Yet I almost never do, beyond a few miles.
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Old 05-20-16, 07:33 PM
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Thanks all for the kind words.

Originally Posted by alan s View Post
This made me laugh. Congrats on the new job.
Clearly you've never been in a neighborhood branch library in the heart of da 'hood after school lets out. The fistfights are ho-hum boring. The knife fight was a big fat pain to clean up after. The shootings get our attention, though.

Originally Posted by takenreasy View Post
I suggest giving fixed gear a try.
The accountant in the neighboring cubie keeps a fixie next to his desk for lunchtime rides. As for me, no thanks. Knee problems run in the family. I remain the only male who has yet to have knee surgery. I'd like to keep it that way. Earlier in the year I hurt my right knee climbing at too low a cadence. Spending the month of February in a knee brace was a good reminder that I need to downshift and spin.

Originally Posted by chephy View Post
The 7 a.m. start time does not help. :-/ It's May now, so for a few months it'll be fine, but as the days start getting shorter, and then it snows... *shivers*
For 14 years I've started work at 1:30PM on my "early" day. Starting at 9:30 is a huge timeshift for me. Getting up at six instead of ten is a real challenge. The hills on the commute help a lot.

Another thing is that in March I'd upgraded headlights on two of my three bikes. A 1:30 start means my headlight season was eight months of the year. Then I remembered: Oh, it gets light later in the winter. So I don't feel so bad about it now.

For the record, the Portland got the new B&M IQ-X. The Ribble got the Portland's hand-me-down Luxos-U (I retired its Schmidt eDelux), and I finally dumped the MagicShine on the Litespeed, replacing it with a B&M IXON IQ Premium.

Last edited by tsl; 05-21-16 at 01:35 PM. Reason: typoze
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Old 05-21-16, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post

...Clearly you've never been in a neighborhood branch library in the heart of da 'hood after school lets out. The fistfights are ho-hum boring. The knife fight was a big fat pain to clean up after. The shootings get our attention, though...
I had to Google where your library branch is. I think it's near the same neighborhood where my son lived during his last semester at RIT. He told me some "nice" stories about it when his mother wasn't around.

Congrats on your new job!
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