The Secrets to Bicycle CommutingSCNCA
Generally commuting is a pain in the ass, but it can be fun on the bike. Get out of the car and get on the bike, not only does it burn calories, introduce early morning endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin but you can skip that early morning coffee if you want and get your heart rate up naturally (ok, maybe don’t skip that coffee but the same none the less).
- Plan ahead. Face it, in the first couple weeks of commuting you will forget socks, shoes, sunglasses and the like at least once. I still forget belts and socks on occasion but c’est la vie. To avoid walking around the office bare foot or worse use a simple checklist the first couple of weeks until your used to the program. Pack the night before, and use a standardized location for everything. See attached for a starter.
- The normal stuff, don’t forget the normal stuff. Bike, pump tires, lube chain, fill bottle, lights, etc.
- Bright front light, one steady on rear light, one blinking rear light. BE SEEN. Even during daylight you want to attract enough attention for the driver to see you. I favor a steady on rear for distance and a blinking rear for attention getting purposes.
- Find a good carrying solution. Personally I am partial to backpacks. I find messenger bags too unstable, and racks/panniers don’t work on my bikes. As a Southern California prisoner I am cursed with year round 70 degree temps. While perfect for bike commuting it can get a little warm and introduce that dreaded back sweat. To avoid this (at all costs) I prefer technical backpacks that offer a mesh suspension to lift the weight of the bag and allow airflow between the back and the bag. While many companies offer this in their marketing if have found only Deuter, Osprey, and select others really function as intended with great results.
- The clothes make the man (or woman). Here is the make or break for commuting. Face it, your clothes will be wrinkled at work. If you can deal with that your golden. But again preparation is key here. Get a packing organizer for your clothes. This will help with keeping neat, tidy, clean and prevent excess wrinkles. I use an Eagle Creek (http://shop.eaglecreek.com/packit-garment-folder-small/d/1326_cl_-1) that is perfect for a day’s worth of clothes. A bottle of Downy wrinkle remover also helps clothes look better for that last minute meeting.
Also plan on making use of shoe bags to protect your nice shoes from the other items your carrying. I prefer the individual per shoe style as allows me to move split the weight across the bag on my back.
- Once you arrive at work you likely will not want to walk around in your cycling shoes but wearing your dress shoes is a little awkward (and would likely result in being on the cover the company internal Christmas card). Get a pair of cheap sandals (that you can also shower in). I
have found that the type with the strap that goes over the foot is best as you can slip into while still wearing socks (style faux pas I know but efficient).
- Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene.
You will likely want to pick up most or all of these from the travel section of preferred store to get the sub 3oz versions. Alternatively pick up a selection of travel size containers and fill with your own choosing. I also carry a selection of plastic shopping bags or the like with me. They are great for (1) wet towel, (2) wet sandals, (3) cycling clothes if sweat on ride among other things.
- Rub a dub-dub, a cyclist in the tub (shower)
- Shampoo/Body Wash
- Again those sandals work very nicely here
- Deodorant (worth even leaving a small stick at your desk…just in case)
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Hair Product
- Wipes (Active wipes, or baby wipes work all the same)
- Rub a dub-dub, a cyclist in the tub (shower)
- No one wants to see your dirty kit air drying across your desk space. Get a hanger or something and tuck your kit out of the way but allow it to dry out before your ride home. Same goes for shoes/helmet/accessories but don’t make your desk an open air laundromat. Again, the Downy Wrinkle Remover is nice here as well as masks any lingering odor.
Obviously it is a lot easier if you can leave a selection of items on site. Not carrying shoes, towel, and/or shower stuff is a HUGE plus not to mention a space saver. Check what is available at your workplace. Can you leave items in a locker? Can you take your bike to your desk? Again, investigation and preparation is vital.
I recommend bringing the necessary items to recharge your commuting lights at work, just in case you’re stuck late and ride home in the dark. Don’t risk safety for anything.
BrightCycleCoaching & Christopher Jennings-Bright