Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tips on riding your bike to work

After mentioning that I ordered a new commuting bike (not here yet!), the Centsible Runner suggested I post some tips on bike commuting. Even though I have an easy commute, I still had to work out some kinks when I got started. For me, the biggest obstacle to bike commuting were the simple logistics of dealing with "stuff." Bike stuff AND work stuff.

Disclaimer: My bike commute is SHORT (3 miles each way) and riding my bike to/from work is faster and cheaper (15-20 min; free!) than public transit (30 min; $2.50) and only a little slower than driving (10-15 min; parking = $11-20). That should catch the Centsible Runner's attention! These factors provide a lot of motivation to bike. If my commute were longer and/or I had free parking, it would be harder to motivate myself to ride.

Here are some things that made it possible for me to bike commute with relative ease:
  1. Panniers: Wearing a backpack sucks. It makes your back hot & sore and it can be difficult to fit everything in, especially in the winter when you are taking in a big sweater to wear and packing a laptop. I found two on Ebay for about $50. They're not fancy but they are just fine.
  2. Ditch the purse: Just throw your wallet & little pouch of necessary "things" into your panniers. A purse takes up too much room. Keep an extra purse at work in a drawer that has extra stuff that you don't need to schlep back & forth - extra chap stick, comb, feminine products, etc. Then, when you need to go out of the office at work, just grab your things from the panniers and toss them in your work purse. 
  3. Keep extra clothes at work: Stock your office/cube with an extra raincoat, umbrella, warm coat, casual gloves, hat, etc. These are things you can't bike in but may need if you leave the office during the day. No need to tote them back & forth when you can keep spares at work.
  4. Keep shoes at work: If you have one or two pairs of shoes that you only wear at work - leave them there so you don't have to schlep your shoes. Leave some pantyhose & extra socks there too! 
  5. Keep extra toiletries at work: My commute is easy enough that I can shower after I get up, bike in, and not be too messed up for work. I know not everyone has it that easy so if you need to "get ready" for work at work - take all your stuff in and leave it there so you don't have to bring things back & forth. Do this even if it means buying an extra flat iron, travel hair dryer, make-up, etc. Keep some wipes around to catch that sweat.
  6. Be safe: Get a good helmet, reflective coat, warm gloves for winter, and invest in a decent headlight (or 2) and flashing tail light. Don't be cheap on this one, they're very important during winter.
  7. Pack your bags each night: When I don't pack the night before, it's too easy for me to bail and just take the light rail to work. Pack at night, prepare your lunch, even pack your clothes for work next day. Then, getting ready to jump on your bike & go is much easier in the morning and doesn't give you excuses about packing your stuff.
  8. Roll your clothes: This reduces wrinkling.
Your co-workers may think that you're moving into your office with all that extra stuff you have around but it really does eliminate much of the hassle of changing into work clothes and making yourself "presentable." After a while, they'll get used to it and think you're super cool for biking to work.

Biking, even at an easy pace, will give you a few extra calories burned each day which for me is not a bad thing (I like beer too much). Plus, the extra strength & cardio are nicet compliments to running and may even count as cross-training on an active rest day. Many birds = 1 stone! 

What tips do you have to make bike commuting easier? 
Please share!


12 comments:

  1. Awesome tips! I used to cycle to university every day but that was many many years ago :) Nowadays it is impossible to do that here in Johannesburg. Traffic and other safety issues prevent it...very sad! Children can't even cycle to school any more.

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    1. That is sad. We just have traffic concerns, not other safety issues. SOmething I take for granted.

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  2. These are good tips. I can't think of any others. And I wanted to tell you the woman in Emily's race didn't try to cheat. She turned around because she couldn't do the distance, not trying to fool anyone. I didn't explain it well but those of us watching it weren't sure.

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    1. Ooooohhh! Good clarification!

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  3. You make it sound so easy!!

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  4. You've inspired me! I should definitely be riding to the gym and home and also to the club where I work. Just a few extra miles a day can add up!!!

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  5. I love that you bike to work:) Great tips!

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  6. Woo Hoo, love this post!!! THANKS! Several of the tips I never would have thought about. My commute would be 6 miles each way, not bad, I definitely need to give it a try.

    By the way, I'm up on Whidbey Island doing some field work... it makes me miss Seattle and the PNW. The weather is PERFECT right now, I bet you are loving the bike commute this week!

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  7. Great post! I cycled to work last week when I was missing a lot of runs. It was so great, I looked forward to cycling home all day! Sooo much better than sitting in traffic.

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  8. Jealous of your short commute ;) Good job for biking to work!

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  9. In my super-damp climate, it is definitely a good idea to put work clothes into some sort of waterproof bag for the ride there. Panniers are the first thing to get wet if is raining or has in the last few days (and waterproof panniers are really pricey!).

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  10. A super like for this article! Your tips are awesome! And bravo for using a ride that is environment friendly! By the way , do you have some tips on bicycle clothing too? You know, when cycling on a non-work day or simply an exercise day! :)

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