Bike to Work Week starts on Monday, and the League of American Bicyclists is challenging folks to ditch their cars and ride bikes for their commutes. Here are some tips to help you get out of your car and onto two wheels!
We live in a very auto-centric society, and it might feel like riding your bike is just out of the question. Maybe you live to far from your job, the weather is bad, or you are out of shape. No matter! Everyone can save some fuel, help the environment, and improve their health with pedal power. It’s all about changing your mindset.
Avoiding Common Cycling Pitfalls
Do you live 20 miles from work? It might seem like there’s no way you could bike commute, but what if you just replaced part of your drive with a bike ride? Could you drive into town, then park and hop on your bike for the last couple of miles? City driving is much less fuel efficient than on the highway, so you’d still be making a big impact just by replacing part of your drive with a bike ride.
If you feel like you’re too out of shape, don’t fret! I got some sage advice from a fellow cyclist once that changed how I saw my daily ride to work. This fellow blasted past me on a hill where I was struggling, and at the red light, I made a comment about how wussy I was on my bike. He turned to me and said, “It’s not a race, it’s a commute.” Amen to that! Don’t worry about being slow or even if you have to hop off of your bike and walk up a tough hill. It’s not about being the best, it’s just about getting out of your car to do something good for you and for the planet.
As far as weather is concerned, some planning can go a long way. Unless there are severe, dangerous conditions, don’t let a little bit of rain or a hot day keep you off of your bike! If it’s raining, put on a slicker and pack a change of clothes (in a reused plastic bag is best, so they’ll stay dry even if your bag gets soaked). On a hot day, don’t bother dressing for work before you hop onto your bike. Pack your work clothes and put them on when you get to your destination. If you’re sweaty, you can clean up in the bathroom before you get dressed. You might also look into nearby gyms to see if they offer a discounted membership if you’re only planning to use the shower after your ride.
Bike Commuting Tips
When I worked in an office and rode into work, I learned a few tips to make things easier on myself. In honor of Bike to Work Week, I thought I’d share them with you guys!
- Invest in a good, light bike. Unless your commute takes you on rough terrain, those skinny tires will make your ride easier than big mountain bike tires. A light frame (like aluminum) makes a big difference, too, especially on hills.
- Make plans to clean up when you get to work, either in the bathroom or at the gym. If you’re cleaning yourself up on the fly, pack a clean-up kit: deodorant, perfume/cologne, a comb, etc.
- Invest in a commuter pack that attaches to your bike. This is especially nice in warm weather to hold a change of clothes, a snack, and personal items without a sweaty backpack.
- Check with HR. Some companies offer incentives to cyclists. My old company had a Clean Air Commuter program that included a free membership at a gym in the building and free laundry service for my dirty biking clothes.
- Pack extra snacks. Depending on your commute’s length, cycling can really work up an appetite. Pack yourself a granola bar or some dried fruit and nuts to snack on mid-morning. You won’t be sorry!
Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list. Let’s hear from you bike commuters out there! What tips do you have for someone interested in participating in Bike to Work Week?
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by twotone666