On your drive into work, have you ever noticed a cyclist obviously commuting and admired that person? Have you thought it would be cool to ride your bike to work, or home from the office? Perhaps it’s crossed your mind that bike commuting not only helps the environment and saves gas money; but it could help you stay fit, healthy and burn a few extra calories.
Despite some worthy reasons to ride your bike to work, there never seems to be a good time to start. So why not start now? Lots of people commute on their bicycles, why not you? Even if you commute only a handful of times, it’s better than none at all. To help you get rolling, here are 13 tips for commuting on your bike:
1. Begin with an achievable distance.
If you live only a few miles from work, it is conceivable that you can commute both ways on the first day. If you live several miles from work, and the commute will take you some 45 to 60 minutes or more, consider hitching a ride with a co-worker to get to the office, then ride home. Make the distance doable for you; don’t worry about what other people might be doing.
2. Start with an achievable frequency.
Sure it sounds good that you’re turning over a new leaf and you have grand plans to commute to and from work every day, but is that goal achievable immediately? Begin by setting a goal to commute one to three times per week. After you can consistently achieve success, add more commuting segments or days.
3. Wear a helmet.
In the unlikely case of an accident, you want to protect your head and all those great ideas. Make sure you get a brightly colored as well so you are able to be seen from a distance.
4. Wear clothing that can easily be seen by motorists.
If you are commuting in early morning or late evening hours, wear reflective gear and put a flashing tail light on your bike. For daylight commuting wear bright colors that can easily be seen by motorists.
5. Don’t make a big deal out of special clothes and gear.
Depending on the distance of your commute, you might be able to commute in your work clothes. Some commutes are workouts and other commutes are more practical in nature.
When some of our agents traveled to Europe we saw women riding bikes to work in business suits with a brief case strapped to the luggage rack. They were wearing low pumps and using platform pedals. Bike commuting appeared to be commonplace.
6. Consider cycling shorts.
If your commute is longer than 20 or 30 minutes, you will probably be more comfortable in cycling shorts. Cycling shorts eliminate that intersection of seams that meet right where you are putting your torso on the bike seat. Pressure and friction can make this area really uncomfortable when cycling longer distances. Cycling shorts (worn without underwear) can significantly improve your comfort.
7. Do a dry run on the weekend.
If you’re nervous about how much time it will take you to get to work, do a dry run on the weekend. Ride at an easy pace, knowing that if you were in a bind for time, you could pick up the pace.
8. Find routes with minimal traffic.
It may lengthen your commute some, but finding roads that aren’t as busy might be worth your time. Check out any bike paths in the area to see if they would be a good choice.
9. Learn how to change a flat.
If you don’t already know how to do it, learn how to change a flat tire. Local cycling shops like A & B Cycle and Sunshine Bike Shop have classes on how to change a flat and make minor repairs to your bike.
10. Carry a cell phone and call for help if you have significant mechanical trouble.
If you have time to change a flat tire or deal with other mechanical issues on the way into work, fine. If you’re pinched for time, call someone to give you a lift. There’s a good chance you’re on the road well before anyone else, so it’s likely that a co-worker will come your way.
11. Take your clothes to work the day before you commute.
If you plan to change from cycling clothes to work clothes when you commute, bring your clothes to work the day before your ride.
12. Strategize your clean up time before work.
Some commuters will want a full shower before sitting next to coworkers. Or maybe it’s the coworkers that want the commuter to have a shower? Either way, lucky commuters can shower at the office. If that’s the case, use a chamois towel (popular among swimmers) to dry off, rather than lugging around a bath towel.
13. Watch for parked car doors swinging open.
Be alert for cars parked on the side of the road. Take note if there are people in the car that might be getting ready to swing open the car door without looking for you coming from behind on a bike.
After you scheme up strategies to be successful on that first commute, you might find yourself wanting more. Even hard-core commuters started somewhere. The commuters we know, that bike to work regularly, do it because the personal rewards are so great.
Enjoy your ride!
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