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What's the longest feasible commute? My current run in to work is 10.2 miles door to door.  I do that between three and five times a week, giving me between 61 and 102 miles a week.  We're moving outside the M25 in a couple of weeks, and although I've not done the run yet, Google Maps says 22 miles door to door, or 44 miles per day.  Five days a week, that would of course be 220 miles a week, which I guess some of you probably do.  For context: 52 years old, big bloke but moobs and a slight paunch are part of my world.  Legs are strong enough, and lungs can cope with the current commute without any problems.  Would it be a case of building up to it, or maybe do half of the journey by train?  Are there any of you who do that many miles?  

48 comments

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Daveyraveygravey [713 posts] 1 month ago
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I'd say you should be able to do that twice a week from where you are now.  You will feel a lot more tired and it will feel like it takes you a long time to get used to it, but it's doable.  Do you get any other riding in, say a longer more casual ride at the weekend?

I commute two or three times a week myself, the direct route is only 7 miles but it is on a horrible road, so I do 10-15 miles on the country lanes.  It's much nicer and you get more training out of it too.

I did the commute to Sutton from home a couple of times - 44 miles each way! It took me about 2.5 hours, we didn't start work til 9.30 so I could get up at 6 and still have some extra time for emergencies or mechanicals.  Only in the summer though, I don't mind riding in the dark but 90 minutes is about the most.

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hawkinspeter [4421 posts] 1 month ago
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My commute is around 22 miles, but as we don't have showers at work, I get the train in and cycle back when the weather is suitable. It takes a while to get used to cycling on consecutive days without a break, so maybe you should try getting the train in, cycle back and see how you get on.

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srchar [1665 posts] 1 month ago
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Definitely do-able, but you know those rides you're probably doing a lot of at the moment? Dark, cold, heavy rain, into a headwind, on roads clogged with traffic... but you just grit your teeth for half an hour and get it done? That will now be 1h15 of gritted teeth. Personally, I'd find that more of a mental challenge than a physical one; commuting inside the M25 is about as stressful as bike riding gets, for me.

I used to do a hilly 20 mile each-way commute, but I rarely managed a full five days during winter, whereas I rarely miss a ride now that my commute is half that distance. Given that you currently do 3-5 days a week, don't be surprised or disheartened to see that drop to 1-3, at least initially.

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EddyBerckx [744 posts] 1 month ago
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I do very slightly less that that...normally around 4 times a week. It's certainly not a great time of year to start, but yeah, start with 2 times a week (non rainy etc days) and see how you go from there. Winter does make it a lot harder with the cold, stronger winds and with it more likely to rain - you'll need to make sure you have some decent kit, and also carry enough spares in case of punctures and mechanicals - 2 tubes + puncture repair kit, multitool and so on. And a back up plan if that fails! Oh and a couple of lights front and rear. 

 

You've nothing to lose and will even enjoy it more often than not...and it'll help keep the weight off and the fitness up

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BBB [515 posts] 1 month ago
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Perfectly doable. I'm in mid forties and currently commuting 42m round trip 6 times a week.
Good reliable equipment is crucial; sensibly specced bike with proper full length mudguards, best clothes, powerful lights etc...

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Fishpastesarnie [39 posts] 1 month ago
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I was doing a commute of this distance last year. Most of it was flattish apart from some hills near to the work end (Brighton).  I was doing about 2 days a week and found that I was permanently hungry and some days was a little tired. I am late forties and in the 90-100kg category.

The worst thing was that some days you would cycle to work into a headwind and by the end of the day the wind had shifted and you had a headwind home too.

All in all I loved it (despite some real Jeremy Hunt's in their cars/vans) at least 50% of this was off road on cycle paths of varying quality.

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Rick_Rude [506 posts] 1 month ago
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Do it. Smaller moobs and paunch will result. Unless you immediately replenish with lard and ale.

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the little onion [283 posts] 1 month ago
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Do it, but feel free to take time to build up the days gradually, and build up your fitness and mental fortitude. Invest in good lights etc that will do a full there-and-back, etc.

 

I do a hilly 12 miles each way, but at the moment only do that twice a week. I used to do it about 4 times, with no problems. 

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Rod Marton [136 posts] 1 month ago
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My longest cycle commute was 18 miles each way, and this was certainly not a problem to do every day of the week. However it was a quiet and flat route, and really rather pleasant to ride. However at the beginning I certainly noticed the difference over the previous 10 mile commute, but your fitness level increases and you become accustomed to it.

In short I'd say that 22 miles is quite doable, but don't get too hung up about it if you can't do it every day of the week.

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Mungecrundle [1666 posts] 1 month ago
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If you want to keep your jobseekers allowance, you better be prepared to travel up to 90 minutes each way to whatever inappropriate job they send you details of.

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kil0ran [1771 posts] 1 month ago
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That was exactly my commute. It's very doable, even for someone like me who is pretty similar to you. Budget two hours each way - if you've got the time to spend then it's completely possible. This time of year though you're going to be doing most of it in the dark - which I always enjoyed but I had very rural roads or cycle paths to ride on.

However, in my experience I just didn't have the time to do it - family commitments and the like. I'm guessing it might be different for you just because of the circle of hell that is London's transport network. If I'd been single without a young son I'd have done it every day. As it was I used to chop it in half by driving 10 miles or so and dumping the car in a random layby. If you have access to a car it's a really good option - not least because you can vary your starting point according to weather and it stops the route getting too boring.

If you are going to do it budget for dyno lights or an extra set of battery lights (or even two sets). One at home, one at work, one on the bike - by the time you've done that you'll probably find that dyno lighting is cheaper. Keeping lights charged for 3+ hours riding per day is a right chore.

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gmac101 [244 posts] 1 month ago
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My colleague has done 25 miles each way for a number of years (15?) though he his now in his mid 50's and does occassionaly take a day off.  I used to sit next to him and his thighs are vey impressive and he does start eating about 3pm ready for the trip home.  He has no paunch or moobs

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Stratman [178 posts] 1 month ago
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I'm currently off the bike due to an unrelated neck problem, but I've been riding between 23 and 26 miles each way for the last 6 years or so (I'm 55 now).  The longer distance is flatter, and I've generally managed 4-5 days per week, driven by times when I'm not in the office.  It generally takes me about 1 1/2 hours, and I too don't have a shower at the end, just a stand up wash.  Very high winds and ice will keep me off, but otherwise it's all weathers with good kit.  I have second breakfast when I get in, and also have mid afternoon and pre-ride snacks.

It took me a few months to get to 5 days per week, I set a target of riding every month, which proved too easy, and so moved to every week and then most days.

I find it quite productive too, it can be good thinking time.

Give it a go

 

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kil0ran [1771 posts] 1 month ago
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@stratman - yep, I really miss the thinking time. Used to arrive at work with a bunch of ideas or use it for planning out my day's tasks. And on the way home in the dark (at least where I was riding) it was just me and the bike, great de-pressurisation. Really is awesome for mental health.

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grumpyoldcyclist [195 posts] 1 month ago
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Sounds like you're already a committed cycle commuter, so do it. Like others have said, perhaps not every day, certainly at the start, and perhaps build up to it, train one way, cycle home. If you can leave your bike at work dry & secure, how abour ride in, train home and back to work, ride home?

I do a fairly regular 13 miles each way pretty much five days a week, but in the summer will sometimes extend the ride in to 17 miles and the ride home up to 25, depends on available time. Strong winds and ice are the biggest enemies, but I still keep going at 63 so must be doing something right. Sometimes cringe at the thought of going out the door in the dark and cold, but miss it loads if I don't.

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CyclingInBeastMode [296 posts] 1 month ago
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BBB wrote:

Perfectly doable. I'm in mid forties and currently commuting 42m round trip 6 times a week.
Good reliable equipment is crucial; sensibly specced bike with proper full length mudguards, best clothes, powerful lights etc...

We are all different, just because you are mid 40s doeasn't indicate anything, the distance is very significant and it's easy for you and others to say it's "perfectly doable", however it's a big challenge, even twice a week IMO. That equates to 4x a week in miles, but it's really not the same at all.

Also you don't need a powerful light, you ned a RELIABLE light that chucks the right beam onto the road for at least double the daily need, just in case you forget to recharge one day you're not stuffed, also a backup rear.

Ultimately I'd say ride the route on a non working day, there and back, give yourself an idea as to how much effort you're going to need to put in. Consider that there maybe days when physically you're not feeling up to or the weather is really horrible, so strategies on how to get around that.

That doubling of your journey and exposure to the weather certainly at this time of the year can make a huge difference on you physically and mentally, it can easily feel like a lot more than double the miles.

Maybe part driving in and increasing miles slowly, you mention getting a train but unless you have a fold up or there's cycle specific spaces on the train at peak times that might be tricky and you certainly don't want to be leaving a bike at a station part ways there overnight a few times a week, just asking for trouble.

 

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DaxPlusPlus [12 posts] 1 month ago
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As someone has already said - it's not the mileage more the amount of time it takes that's the real, ultimate limiter.

As for the physical demands - it depends on the the route and whether you can keep your effort down to a sustainable\repeatable level on your ride.

I'm 52 and cycle over 50 miles a day with 2700 feet of climbing. I tend to cycle 4 days a week but have done 5 days a week - but honestly I prefer having a day off, especially since I switched to single speed. The problem with the single speed is that I can't keep my effort levels low on the hills and that has an effect over the week. The reason for switching to single speed? I was tired of all the maintance that my geared bikes tended to generate when covering approx 800-1000 miles a month. My disc braked, single speed is awesome to ride, is quiet and has so little maintance in comparison - I love it heart

Perhaps another point to consider; If you have to commute every day then I would seriously look at getting an eBike - the only reason I havent done so myself is I can work from home  when ever I like so I can take a break when I feel I need it. 
 

 

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DaxPlusPlus [12 posts] 1 month ago
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Oh and I built up to this level of fitness over years - can't say really how long it took but it was definitely measured in years rather than weeks or months. Obviously everyone is different and the amount of effort you put in during a commute can make a huge difference to the fatigue generated.

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cougie [98 posts] 1 month ago
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Forget what google maps says - go ride the route of a weekend and see what it's like. 

 

I do think going straight to 5 days would be too much - so you could aim to phase the rides in.  

I'd want a proper winter bike. Full guards, bombproof tyres and 2 sets of lights front and rear. 

 

Have fun.  It's probably not that much longer than driving. 

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HoarseMann [317 posts] 1 month ago
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cycle.london [139 posts] 1 month ago
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Hey folks. 

Brilliant advice here, many thanks.  

No new bike happening any time soon.  It's not a new job, per se.  I was staring down the barrel of redundancy, until I got wind of, and applied for, a sideways shift within the same company.  Got the job, but the big thing is that unlike my previous role within this company (see my forum posts from a while back), they won't let me work from home habitually.   I shouldn't complain, as being in the office is very beneficial for my mental issues.  

So that, and the move to the new house, mean that I'm going to be spending a lot on travel on the train.   

But I'm encouraged by the responses here.  

I'm going to wait until we're in the new place, and then cycle through to the office on a weekend.  I think at first, the single speed will be staying at home!   1

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HLaB [295 posts] 1 month ago
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A face book friend of mine commutes 27 miles (54 miles round) over the Campsies.

Ive still not done the full commute at my current place, about 42 miles one way (too many things have got in the way) preffering timewise to drive 26miles park up and cycle the last 16 miles.  My commute (unlike the Campsies) is completely flat though.  I did the drive/cycle thing on my previous commute too.

On an older commute I did the train morning (no showers) and cycle back thing.

I'd give the commute a go and look into alternatives and see how you can brake it up (drive/train/cycle) so that on winter days it still an enjoyable alternative.  Good luck  1

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Kendalred [424 posts] 1 month ago
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I'm 23 miles in, then perhaps 25 miles back (depending on specific route). South Cumbria coast to the heart of the Lakes, so not flat by any stretch. I usually manage it three times a week (bottled it this am, howling winds and lashing rain!).

49 y/o (50 next April).

For me it's as much to do with my mood/wellbeing than fitness. I hate driving to work, especially this time of year, there's no public transport between home and the office (imagine that Londoners!) so even if I do get a bit knackered, at least I feel better mentally.

Do it!

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cycle.london [139 posts] 1 month ago
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Kendalred wrote:

I'm 23 miles in, then perhaps 25 miles back (depending on specific route). South Cumbria coast to the heart of the Lakes, so not flat by any stretch. I usually manage it three times a week (bottled it this am, howling winds and lashing rain!).

49 y/o (50 next April).

For me it's as much to do with my mood/wellbeing than fitness. I hate driving to work, especially this time of year, there's no public transport between home and the office (imagine that Londoners!) so even if I do get a bit knackered, at least I feel better mentally.

Do it!

London's transport network is one of the reasons I cycle at the moment. The network might be dense, but Southeastern must be one of the worst, greediest crowd of useless bastards on the planet.    If 59 seconds is the threshold after which their trains can be classed 'late', then 100% of my trains into London and back home, are late.  Every.  Single.  One. 

Arranged to meet the missus at Cannon Street station last night.  She got there, and the concourse was packed to the gunwhales.  What a surprise - delays. 

Still, we just headed off to Nando's for a scoff.   All good.  

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cycle.london [139 posts] 1 month ago
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cougie wrote:

Forget what google maps says - go ride the route of a weekend and see what it's like. 

 

I do think going straight to 5 days would be too much - so you could aim to phase the rides in.  

I'd want a proper winter bike. Full guards, bombproof tyres and 2 sets of lights front and rear. 

 

Have fun.  It's probably not that much longer than driving. 

I've got 2 x Cateye 800 on the front.  On flashing mode, they typically last a fortnight, when I do the current ten mile ride.  On the back, I have a Cycliq Fly6 and a Cateye, the model of which I can no longer find on their site. 

A set of removable mudguards are all I have, 'cos let's face it, the shape of a steel, 'diamond' frame bike is one of the most beautiful things in existsnece, so why would I soil it with permanent mudguards?  1

Tyres are Schwalbe Durano Plus front and rear, and I carry two tubes with me.

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crazy-legs [1186 posts] 1 month ago
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I've done 25 miles each way on an occasional basis in the past (it was 1 or 2 days a week when I'd be working at an alternative site to usual, there wasn't much of a pattern to it). Fortunately it was a really lovely commute on mostly quiet roads with several options inc canal towpaths and woodland trails.

It depends a lot on the route (busy main roads, quiet lanes, hilly, flat etc), what bike you're on (e-bike??), how much stuff you have to carry and (most importantly I'd hazard) the facilities available at the workplace to shower, change, hang kit up, store the bike safely etc.

My current job, I have a very easy straightforward commute but the hassle of locking the bike up (fairly secure but offsite from my workplace) and going up and down flights of steps means that although the ride itself is only 45 mins, I have to add a further 20 mins for locking up, walking, showering, changing, hanging kit up etc.

Ride the route on a weekend, see roughly how long it would take each way (it might be more uphill one way so takes longer and that needs factoring in too). See what options you might have for using off-road (towpath, cyclepath?) and where you're restricted to main roads. Having a choice of route makes a big difference. In summer / dry weather I've got the option of towpath most of the way and that's lovely (slower but nicer) but in winter, wet weather etc it's a horrible ride cos it gets really muddy.

Maybe investigate the possibility of driving half way and riding the rest or driving in/riding home/riding in/driving home or maybe there's a train option (check out weekday / rush hour restrictions on trains in and out of London). Having a train option is great if you ever need to bring a laptop back or you've ridden in and the weather is unexpectedly shit or you had a mechanical. And on the same subject, are there train stations en route that can be used in an emergency?

Kit goes without saying; you need good reliable clothing, lights and components. The bike is going to get loads of wear and tear so full mudguards, bombproof tyres and cheap kit like Tiagra whcih won't cost you loads when it wears out and won't make you cry when it's covered in a winter's worth of road grime is well worth it. Same with clothing -  it's worth considering the trade-off between a cheap jacket that does one or two seasons and can be binned or something that you hope to last years but which costs a fortune. A couple of smaller lights are better than one big one, you need some back-up.

Hope all that is useful.

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Shades [516 posts] 1 month ago
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I've got a 17 mile (each way) commute; pretty much flat and mainly bike path. I've mixed it up over the years; train in/bike home, all cycle and half drive/half cycle (van makes that easy).  I drive in Fri as the traffic is quieter. I guess for me it's time (incl showering at work and work day) and how tired I get when I may want to ride at the weekend.  Winter always seems like really hard work and longer; winter bike, dark, more kit on, windy etc and the risk of icy paths, so my half drive/half cycle option works well.  I normally ride pretty hard and it's the one time I'd really like a super-light bike; some people I know just stick to a steadier pace that they can maintain day in day out and accept the time penalty.  Got an idea to 'borrow' (if a bike shop agreed to it) a decent e bike for a week and see what the times are like (all cycle); use the e bike for winter, headwind and 'too tired' days, and road bike for days when I want to get some fitness riding in. I'm mid 50s and 85kg; everyone's different as I know people who can maintain a blistering pace every day, just not me!

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Roadrider75 [3 posts] 1 month ago
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I'd say it's doable but maybe start off with 2 or 3 days per week and work upwards if that's an option. How different will the roads be in terms of traffic and lumpiness.

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Boatsie [539 posts] 1 month ago
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Do it often.

I'm no teacher, I haven't ridden two weeks buti haven't excuse.

I prefer days I ride. Warms well being. Last summer I was near those miles. Although a 7km ride direct, when work days were near or less than 12 hours detour home via a climb and descent would increase mileage with 30-60 km detours.
When younger I often commuted 100km daily but weather might be different. Middle of day gets hot, blows tyres and burns skin. When a postman I'd ride 20-30km to work prior train schedules and catch a couple of trains home during midday.
Best luck man. Bicycle commuting is what I enjoy too.

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Judge dreadful [448 posts] 1 month ago
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I used to do 15 miles each way, 4 times a week, and that was about as far as I would want to commute regularly, more due to the 15 miles back, after a day at w**k was a work up I could do without. I did a 'super commute' twice, because there was a railway strike, and that was 75 miles each way. To be fair, it was only on 2 occasions, and it was hell.

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