There were a lot of “don’ts” I told myself about bike commuting to work:
- I don’t have the “right” bike
- I don’t have the “right” gear
- I don’t want to show up to work sweaty
- I don’t want to wake up 45 minutes earlier everyday
- I don’t want to ride both up and down the enormous hill I would have to traverse both to/from work.
- I don’t think I’m a good enough rider to tackle the 5 miles each way, every day
But here are the reasons I could bike commute to work: I had a bike and a strong/nagging idea that this would be a good thing for my health, my wallet, and the environment.
Often, when we are presented with something new, it’s easy to think of all of the reasons why we can’t do things, that often the very valid reasons that we can are lost in the noise.
You literally only need a bike, helmet, and the desire to bike to commute to actually do it. Trust me, I’ve been where you are. I’m not at my peak physical fitness level. My bike is older than I am, and I work in an industrial park that is not super easy to get to…and yet, I ride my bike to work.
Now don’t let me fool you, I don’t do this every.single.day and I definitely don’t do it in the rain or snow (yet!) but I do set myself up to make bike commuting part of my daily life. I’m not an expert; I’m a newbie to commuting who has learned some things through trial and error.
As with anything, do research, find mentors/professionals to ask questions of. But I promise, bike commuting is not as daunting as it seems.
Assess your equipment
- Schedule a bike tune up!
- Reflectors/headlamp attached
- Proper fitting helmet
- Attach a rack or basket if you need to store a bag or work items
Map your route and practice!
To get to work I have to go through multiple neighborhoods, cross a 6 lane road, go over an overpass, and at the very end cruise over some rail road tracks…and this my friends, is the route I’m most comfortable with. It adds about 2 miles, but it is much less traffic heavy and I feel safer. My advice is that you use Google Maps or sites like Map My Run to plan out your route, drive it by car, and then attempt it by bike on a weekend before your inaugural ride. First, use the test to check for safety issues but also to assure yourself that you are able to make the ride. My test ride gave me a ton of confidence before setting out on a work day because I already knew the ride was possible!
You don’t have to ride to work every day, especially in the beginning! Give yourself some time to build up those miles. You might be sore after that first day, so don’t over do it with the riding, especially that first week. I rode to work every other day for the first couple of weeks to give myself some rest and to ease in to the mileage.
Eat, drink, and pack some refreshing products!
You’ll need to fuel your ride, so make sure that you are drinking (and packing) water and eating something in the morning. An iced coffee holder was a must for my trusty bike! In the beginning you may notice an uptick in hunger when getting to work. Stash some extra breakfast supplies or be prepared to eat earlier lunches!
Keep extra body wipes, deodorant, hair brush, etc. in your desk at work , it will lessen the load of supplies you need each day.
Bike commuting fashion looks different for everyone, so do what suites you, and your work, best!