With May as Bike-To-Work Month, we’re offering up some thoughts and tips on commuting.
There are many benefits to bike commuting. First, there are the direct effects that come from any exercise, including improved fitness, lowered resting heart rate, and decreased stress. Getting your recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day on your way to work kills two birds with one stone.
There are also benefits of ditching your car to consider: by choosing an alternate mode of transportation, you’re eliminating much of the associated problems of commuting by car. Surprise traffic jams, parking difficulties, and “no time to get to the gym” excuses become problems of the past. Fuel’s not cheap, and the cost per mile of a bike is minuscule when compared to a car’s. Once you’ve made the switch to bike commuting your fitness and mood are sure to improve. You may even find yourself looking forward to heading out to work!
Once you’ve made the commitment to ride a bike to work, the hard work is done. Your next choice is determining which bike you’re going to use.
Simplicity and versatility reign supreme for bike commuters. The best commuter bikes are equal portions durable, comfortable, and efficient.
The riding posture of a full-on race bike is probably too aggressive for most commuters. A more upright posture is preferred, as it translates into less fatigue. If your bike is comfortable, you’ll be more apt to throw a leg over it every morning and head out. A good commuter bike has:
- Clearance for fenders and larger tires
- Mounts for racks
- A comfortable posture and stable riding characteristics
(We’re a little biased, but our Haanjo series consists of five great commuters.)
Riding your bike to work can absolutely be safe, quick, and fun. With a little preparation most of the common complaints about bike commuting are revealed to be pretty insignificant, especially when weighed against the benefits. Be prepared:
- Invest in lights for early mornings and evenings
- Pay attention to the weather forecast, and dress accordingly
- Plan and know your routes
- Find a riding buddy for motivation, be it a coworker or neighbor
- Practice safe riding techniques, staying visible, predictable, and courteous (and wear a helmet!)
- Pack a toolkit and know how to use it: spare tubes, a patch kit, some extra snacks and bus money never hurt
Durability and reliability are necessary to get you to work on time. Your bike should be well-maintained and in good working order:
clean your bike often and check:
- Tire pressure
- Drivetrain functions
Mechanical issues can happen on any bike, but a little bit of preventative work really does go a long way to avoiding problems.
Aside from the rules of the road, there really is only one thing we insist upon: enjoy your ride! Take time to slow down and take it all in: the sights, the sounds, the air. Make your commute into a treat.
Once you arrive at work: how do you clean up? What if you’re all sweaty?
Planning goes a long way here too:
- Give yourself plenty of time. Arrive early and cool down.
- If you can’t shower at work, try out any of the great body wipes on the market–they’re pretty amazing
- As you end your commute, ease up a bit and begin your cooldown while still on the bike (trust us–it’ll get easier)
The bottom line when it comes to bike commuting really is pretty simple: plan a little, take your time, and relax. It really is just riding your bike to work. Pick a nice day and go for it, the rewards far outweigh the drawbacks!