Who plays commute games?
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  1. #1

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    Who plays commute games?

    Anybody else have stupid little personal challenges or mind games they play with themselves on their commute? Aside from the usual challenge of avoiding idiot drivers that is...

    I used to have a commute that was mostly open roads so I was always trying to better my time. The new one is a bit more urban with more lights, so it's all about practicing trackstands on my fixie. I try to make it door-to-door w/o putting a foot down.

    Then there's the big hill near my office that has been taunting me and daring me to try it fixed.The route over that hill adds about 2 miles (it's not that *long* of a hill. Just steep.) and a *considerable* challenge to my commute home. I attempted it for the first time last Friday and didn't have to get off and walk, but it was challening enough that I'll give it some time before I try it again.

    What do others do to try to keep the same old commute fresh and interesting?

    -Trevor

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrevorInSoCal
    Anybody else have stupid little personal challenges or mind games they play with themselves on their commute? Aside from the usual challenge of avoiding idiot drivers that is...

    I used to have a commute that was mostly open roads so I was always trying to better my time. The new one is a bit more urban with more lights, so it's all about practicing trackstands on my fixie. I try to make it door-to-door w/o putting a foot down.

    Then there's the big hill near my office that has been taunting me and daring me to try it fixed.The route over that hill adds about 2 miles (it's not that *long* of a hill. Just steep.) and a *considerable* challenge to my commute home. I attempted it for the first time last Friday and didn't have to get off and walk, but it was challening enough that I'll give it some time before I try it again.

    What do others do to try to keep the same old commute fresh and interesting?

    -Trevor
    I do that stuff all the time. Personal best from door to door, fastest speed between 2 points, over take a car that passed me but is now stuck at lights waaayyy ahead of me, catch the rider in front (or at least make a hell of an attempt to..), hold me speed when against the wind (tiring stuff) Usual stuff, I would imagine that everyone else tries to do.
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  3. #3
    In Blue America
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    Number of passes

    Aside from the challenges I may set when I see a rider up the road, I do other goofy things:

    1. I pass about 8 other cyclists on the way to work and back, on average, so I always try to better that number or pass as many as I can. This has started an entire subset of rules based on points: getting passed counts as a -2, passing someone with a kickstand doesn't count, etc.

    2. I always see the same 3 people going the other way in the morning. I try to reach a certain point in the ride before encountering the first of the 3 riders. Sure, I could leave earlier but the whole point of it all is to push myself to go faster.

    3. I have a certain long stretch where I sprint from a fire plug to a point in the fenceline. I try to see how fast I can go, or how soon I can reach that speed, and how long I can sustain it. Most of the variation is due to the wind on a particular day.

    Simply timing the ride doesn't accurately reflect how well I rode because there are too many lights, and I don't want to encourage myself to save time by blowing lights or other dangerous things.
    Yeah, it's all dorky, I admit.

  4. #4

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    just elapsed time

    I look at my ride time to see how I've done. I don't really care, it's more like a footnote to the commute. There are well over 150 traffic lights on my commute route, and if I stop I try to trackstand until it's clear so it's tough to draw any conclusions from the elapsed time, but it makes me happy to do it in under 1:30 (current fastest 1:21, slowest 1:36). My ride is 24mi on the way in, 25mi on the way home.

    Strange thing: I haven't noticed any consistent time differences riding fixed vs. gears on the commute.

    - Chris

  5. #5

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    How 'bout in a cage?

    Quote Originally Posted by cmgauch
    There are well over 150 traffic lights on my commute route, and if I stop I try to trackstand until it's clear so it's tough to draw any conclusions from the elapsed time, but it makes me happy to do it in under 1:30 (current fastest 1:21, slowest 1:36). My ride is 24mi on the way in, 25mi on the way home.

    Strange thing: I haven't noticed any consistent time differences riding fixed vs. gears on the commute.

    - Chris
    Would you be taking the same route if you drove, or is there a faster route by car? If it's the same route, with all those lights, I'd guess the bike is faster. Am I wrong?

    -Trevor

  6. #6

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    I'd shoot myself...

    ...if I had to drive in regularly. My commute is from suburban NJ to NYC. Driving in, I'd take the highway through the Lincoln tunnel; pay about $5 in tolls & about $20 to park. If I left by 6:45 a.m., I'd be lucky to do it 45min to 1 hr, and it's only 15 miles!

    Normally, I take a beater bike .5mi to the bus stop & sleep or read on the bus. Once a week, I commute the whole way via bike, but have to detour north to cross the mighty Hudson via the GWB.

    So to answer your question directly, it can be about the same amount of time to go via bike, car, train or bus depending on the time of day & if the commuter Gods are appeased or not. Routinely though for my commute, the bus is the quickest.

    - Chris


    Quote Originally Posted by TrevorInSoCal
    Would you be taking the same route if you drove, or is there a faster route by car? If it's the same route, with all those lights, I'd guess the bike is faster. Am I wrong?

    -Trevor

  7. #7
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    On the way in to work I just try and get every green light; they are semi-timed but can also be triggered by cross traffic. Today was the first time in 3 1/2 months I didn't unclip once!

    Going home it's all about elapsed time- a 900 ft climb at the end is the determinant.

  8. #8
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    Consecutive trips or longest route without touching.

    Can't track stand so this is a fun challenge.

    Net number of cars passed on Main St, E Hartford. Many actually turn off to go into the Pratt Whitney factories so I can sometimes get a positive number.

    Light timing - rolling slowly and then accelerating so when I get the green I'm standing and spinning like a madman.
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  9. #9

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    I forgot standing start intervals

    Trackstand through the light and when it's time to go let 'er rip - trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible. The cars/trucks eventually catch up but it's all good.

    - Chris

  10. #10
    Wood Ape
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    Not the safest, but "can I fit through that?" can be amusing at times, especially when it is a means of survival. Vans, busses, cars, box-vans, construction cones, people, etc.

    Can I make that next light before it goes red is good fun as well.
    Cycleslips

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  11. #11

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    passing allllll the cars waiting at a light.

    passing the busses (philly has bike/bus lanes on most streets).

    gearing down so i never have to completely stop at a red light.

    squeezing in front of cars (they thought something could never fit in that 6ft space!)

    smiling at random people and make them really wonder. or making funny faces at little kids in the back seat.

  12. #12
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    Takling to drivers

    I like to come up next to drivers, and say "Hi". Most of them are very pleasant and are happy to strike up a conversation. I'll often see them at the next light, and continue talking. Kids are always eager to talk to a guy on a bike. I get lots of things like "Hey, you're just like Lance Armstrong". I sigh and say "I wish".

    I also take different residential streets and look for nice houses and gardens. And you'd be amazed at how many people I catch in their bathrobes. They aren't expecting somebody on a bike at 0530.

    Of course I do all the fore-mentioned things like beating my best time, highest MPH down a hill, etc.

  13. #13
    In Blue America
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    Rolled up

    It seems that most drivers I encounter at stops have windows up and the stereo cranked or on a cell phone. Sometimes the windows might be down, but this is Seattle so it's rainy more often than not. There is quite a range of musical tastes among morning commuters. If I could converse with many of them I might be tempted to comment on it.
    You're right though; passengers or kids in the back seat are fun to chat with or wave to in a friendly way. I usually joke about how bad traffic is.

  14. #14
    jrm
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    Yup..

    I try to route burn out by changing routes or finding new routes. This is mostly on the way home because i have time to explore and a need to lay down some miles.

  15. #15
    jrm
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    i did that to a guy in a toyota P/U

    and he just gave me a FU look. Poor unhappy soul.

  16. #16
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    I mainly try to go fast. The catch is that I don't have a computer/speedometer and the band to my digital watch broke quite a while ago so I am basically competing against how I think I did. It is actually sort of nice not knowing exactly what time it is, how fast I'm going, or how far I've gone though I plan on getting a computer when I buy a new bike.

    I also try to time the lights. It's about nine miles each way and there are only six traffic lights. Two of them are the last two blocks at my work. Oddly, the small number of lights makes me more annoyed when I hit a red than when I'm on a ride when I know there are a lot of lights.

    I try not to get passed or to catch and pass other riders. It's satisfying to pass someone that is riding a $2000 bike when I'm riding a stock road bike from the mid-80s.

  17. #17
    jrm
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    let the cars trigger the lights

    Quote Originally Posted by nate
    I mainly try to go fast. The catch is that I don't have a computer/speedometer and the band to my digital watch broke quite a while ago so I am basically competing against how I think I did. It is actually sort of nice not knowing exactly what time it is, how fast I'm going, or how far I've gone though I plan on getting a computer when I buy a new bike.

    I also try to time the lights. It's about nine miles each way and there are only six traffic lights. Two of them are the last two blocks at my work. Oddly, the small number of lights makes me more annoyed when I hit a red than when I'm on a ride when I know there are a lot of lights.

    I try not to get passed or to catch and pass other riders. It's satisfying to pass someone that is riding a $2000 bike when I'm riding a stock road bike from the mid-80s.
    just kinda roll and let the cars get ahead of you to trip the lights. i swear it works.

  18. #18
    Wood Ape
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrm
    just kinda roll and let the cars get ahead of you to trip the lights. i swear it works.
    'cept when they are on timers. I have one stretch through downtown that I can never make all the way, no matter how I try to work it. It times out the same every time
    Cycleslips

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    The trail is the pen.

  19. #19
    Tio
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    Urban assault

    Approximately three quarters of my daily commute it through a downtown-like area (its a faux pas to call anything in Columbia, SC a downtown outright and without an addendum). Its an extremely short commute, as commutes go... thus I make an effort to speed to and fro with as much speed as possible. There are about ten stop lights throughout this route and, thus, affords me good equalizers with cars. My overall goal is to beat these cars from one major intersection to the second major intersection about 2 and a half miles away. Typically, this is only a mild challenge; it really becomes fun when the drivers are aware (telepathically i think) that I am racing them and they, like any good neurotic-can't-lose-southerner, will by into the race. This leads to possible danger but one hell of a ride!!! On average, I think that I can rope in one or two of these guys... they are always my brethren... a week. It makes the otherwise short commute exciting.
    "Each man's life represents a road toward himself..." ~ Hermann Hesse, Demian

  20. #20
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    I used to do a fairly short commute to uni, around 10km, all on the same road in a straight line with a bike lane and only two sets of lights, fairly easy really (around 25mins), my goal was to pick out a nest of a few characteristic cars when I got out the door, and try and beat them into the city (they always went into the city). Irrespective of who passed who how many times, I was the overall winner about 8/10 times. Which is satisfying, as they're sitting there getting fatter. Living in a city which has a very privileged motoring infrastructure, I found that awareness and respect for cyclists on the road was very low. A favourite past-time of some of the younger drivers is to drive up quietly behind you (with the wind in your ears and your mind on the road you don't notice these things) and to scare the bejesus out of you by yelling or honking the horn in your ear. This is one of few things that puts me into a murderous rage, and, looking to catch them at the next set of lights they queue up at, I prepare a green slimey surprise to plant on their windscreen as I scoot past. A couple of times I have been lucky enough to be presented with their open window, and not always a vacant passenger seat. This is particularly satisfying. The one occasion that I had a half full can of coke thrown at me in the middle of winter, I took out their rear vision mirror and half the windscreen with my lock at the next lights. Now THEY were pissed off.

    I'm normally very nice and respectful to my fellow human beings, but when people act like the aforementioned to someone who is self-sacrificially compensating for THEIR fossil fuel use, I turn quickly vengeful.

    I want to hear more stories of militant commuters (only when provoked, random acts of violence should not be condoned of course - motorists are people too)

    - Joel

  21. #21

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    None here.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomacropod
    I want to hear more stories of militant commuters (only when provoked, random acts of violence should not be condoned of course - motorists are people too)

    - Joel
    I'm trying not to be a vengeful commuter. The most militant I get is the occasional finger combined with a string of obscenities, and I'm trying (not always successfully) to rein in that impulse.

    I do love my air-horn though. Nothing's quite as satisfying as having a 100db horn to wake up the morning-commute zombies.

    -Trevor

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrevorInSoCal
    I'm trying not to be a vengeful commuter. The most militant I get is the occasional finger combined with a string of obscenities, and I'm trying (not always successfully) to rein in that impulse.

    I do love my air-horn though. Nothing's quite as satisfying as having a 100db horn to wake up the morning-commute zombies.

    -Trevor
    I'm on the lookout for an airhorn that shatters windows.

    - Joel

  23. #23

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    Invisible Mountain

    I have a fairly short commute (about 6+ miles each way) these days compared to last year (11+), but with the loss of miles, I was happy to get rid of one reluctant game: "curse the wind." About 90% of the old commute was down Chicago's lakefront, which meant guaranteed wicked headwinds at least one way just about every day (sometimes the wind would shift from north to south or vice versa during the day, making for headwinds during both rides... grr.) The lakefront is often a beautiful ride, but I don't miss pedalling all-out just to maintain 12mph on a flat straightaway. Stoopid wind.

    These days, I enjoy playing "beat the bus," but my most frequently played game is probably "don't be late for work again, dammit."

    -Le Penguin

  24. #24
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    Wink Beat the bus

    I just discovered a new game. I work about 7 miles from home. Although I usually take a longer, hillier route on my commute, there is a shorter route that nearly parallels the route of the bus. As I began on the shorter route one day last month, I saw a co-worker who lives in my neighborhood standing at the bus stop. I stopped to chat, then we wagered that once the bus came, I could beat her to the office. I did, and she bought me a coffee later. It really only comes down to how many stops and traffic signals the bus has, while I have a long right-of-way along a trail. It's pretty easy, really, but the co-worker is impressed enough to buy me coffee!

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