My commuting to work plans have turned out to be shaky. There are a lot of things that people don’t tell you about before you start commuting. I’ve ridden bikes for a long time and I love riding, but actually using my bicycle as a mid to longer distance commuting tool is a relatively new endeavour. It has been a learning experience each time I ride. Maybe this is a right of passage that must be undertaken by all new bike commuters before than can consider themselves worthy. In all honesty, though, some of them can be completely discouraging – I’m not trying to usurp the cause here, but honestly there are some things that will make you miss the sweet, reliable comfort of your car or even public transit.
In the end it can be worth it but there are a few things you should know if you are just starting, little things, things that will make you say, ‘well duh.’ But when I started talking to other commuters around the office I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who had run into these problems. So because it is Bike to Work Week and I want to spread the commuting good will I will share some of the things I’ve learned both from my own experiences and from others.
Pack the night before. Trust me, there have been more than a few times that I have forgot vital garments because I tried to pack the morning of. Things such as socks, underwear and towels. It can be terribly awkward, though freeing, to go commando all day. If you are the organized type then write a list and check off everything you will need.
Bring extra food. You are burning extra calories and you might be surprised at how much extra food you are motivated to consume when commuting. Pack an extra snack to give you energy before your ride home.
Get wet weather clothing: depending on where you live this can be a necessity. Look for cycling specific clothing that is lightweight and packable because the weather often changes quickly especially over the 8hrs of a work day. I have pedaled in to work some mornings where the sun has been shinning and not a cloud was to be seen, only to pedal home in a thundershower. Apparently this is more noticeable when you are travelling by bike.
Get a pair of sunglasses. They will keep the grit, grime, water, wind etc… out of your eyes so you can actually see where you are going. No one likes to see a cyclist cry, even if it is just from the wind in their eyes.
Buy a set of lights. You never know when you’ll spend a little extra time at work and may find yourself pedaling home as the sun is setting.
Plan your route before hand. Use google maps, to find where the cycling routes are and use them.
These probably seem pretty obvious, maybe even too obvious. But it is often the tings right in front of us that are easiest to miss. And missing some of these things can make for a more than unpleasant commute and a less than ideal day at the office. And remembering them can turn commuting by bike into a real pleasure.