This morning, I rode my bike in to work (a distance of about 10 miles), and it felt great. It was the second time I've done that now -- I also did it last week -- and I hope to make it a more frequent thing.
My goal is to get some exercise (I'm training for a triathlon) while also helping the environment and saving money on gas. With the gas prices rising so much in the last few years, it's frustrating to not be able to do anything about it -- but now I am.
Although it's a bit scary riding a bike in the middle of traffic, I have to say it was a great experience. Not only did I feel really good to get the exercise, but I had a great view of nature as I headed to work, and it was a lot more peaceful and relaxing than the regular commute by car. I hope to eventually build up my stamina so that I can ride my bike to and from work at least three or four times a week, or even five days a week, but for now I'm starting out slowly, as I'm new to cycling.
Tips for Commuting by Bike
- Plan ahead. One of the reasons people don't commute by bike, even if they have a bike, is that they don't want to be sweaty. I'm lucky, as my work just installed a new shower, but before that I planned to use the shower of an office next door, or use the shower at a nearby gym (even becoming a member at a gym is cheaper than gas). You'll also need soap and deodorant and a towel and other toiletries. Then there's the issue of how to get your clothes to work, which is my next tip.
- Drop your clothes to work ahead of time. You could pack them in a backpack, to wear on your back, but it gets your back sweaty. You could also put it in a pannier and carry it on a rack, which is a good option, but you might not want your clothes wrinkly for some reason. The solution I've been using (and it's not an original idea) is to bring my clothes to work the day before. This also saves some extra pounds that I have to carry on my bike, which is an issue for a beginner like me. You could even bring in clothes for the rest of the week. Eventually, if I ride to work five days a week, I might have to drop a week's worth of clothes sometime in the weekend.
- Any ol' bike will do. You don't need a fancy racing bike or touring bike or anything to commute. If you've got an old mountain bike, which I do, that's good enough. You don't need to spend a lot of money on a bike and gear to get started. Later, you can always spend more, a little at a time, but whatever you've got is good enough for now.
- Have a spare tube and tools, and know how to change a tire. You never know if you'll get a flat, and you don't want to be stuck walking your bike for several miles. A patch kit is good, but it's even easier if you just have a spare tube, a pump, and the right tools so that you can quickly change the punctured tube for a new one, and patch the old one later at home.
- Be safe. This is a no brainer, but it is good to read up on tips on cycling safety (see links below) before heading out into dangerous traffic.
- It's a blast! Cycling is a lot of fun, as I've discovered in recent weeks, and riding to work is much, much better than driving. Try it. You'll love it.