Back in 2005, I happened to work at a place that was close enough to my home that I could ride my bike to work. I learned a lot from that experience and I thought I had shared it here, but it looks like I never wrote that entry. Now that gasoline is SO expensive, I am sharing what I learned so that you can save money AND get fit.
Get A Cruiser Bike: Racing bikes might prevent wind resistance, but they are a poor excuse for riding in the city. You need to be upright so you can see what is around you. A mountain bike with less bumpy tires might be a good alternative, but I was happiest with my crusier bike.
Shower Before You Ride To Work: Since most employers won’t have a place for you to shower after your bike ride, you will have to shower at home beforehand. Even though you’ll get sweaty on the ride, you will feel better if you shower first. If your company DOES have a shower at work, then EVERYTHING is easier.
Don’t Wear Your Work Clothes: After your shower, you’ll have to sweat it out on the ride and try to freshen up before your work day. Pack your work clothes in your backpack including an extra set of underwear. After my ride to work, I was sweaty, so I brought athletic body wipes to freshen up along with deodorant/antiperspirant and perfume. I saved my sweaty workout clothes for the ride home as well.
Give Yourself PLENTY Of Time: When you’re driving to work and encounter a detour, it will add maybe a couple of minutes to your commute. When you’re riding your bike, however, a minor detour can add FAR more time. On my route to work, I had to cross a train track, which was usually abandoned, but one day, there was a train PARKED on the tracks, blocking my access. I had to detour, which took me an extra 20 minutes. There was hardly enough time for me to change that day. After that, I ALWAYS gave myself an extra 15 minutes to bike to work.
Lock It Up: Just because you are at work doesn’t mean that your bike is safe in the stairwell without a lock. It is best to lock up your bike at an approved bike rack, but if none is available, make sure you find a secure place and lock it up, running the cable through your wheels AND the frame. I used this Bell Cable Bike Lock, which is not the best lock, but it packs up small and is enough to keep someone from walking off with your ride home.
Ride Safely: There were so many times when I was cut off by cars who didn’t see me. I was never injured because I was so aware of all the ways a car could accidentally hit me. Here is a link to the website that helped me be more aware: Bicycle Safety: How NOT to get hit by cars.
Prepare for Weather: Sometimes a beautiful morning ends with a wet and soggy ride home. I found that camping supplies really helped me prepare with this emergency poncho. It was cheap and packed up SMALL in my bike bag, but would cover me and my backpack on the ride home.
Have A Backup Plan: If the weather becomes completely impassable or if there is a personal emergency, you need someone you can call to get you and your bike home safely. Whether it’s a spouse, family member or close friend, you should set up a plan so you can call them and get home quickly if you need to. I had this set up with Mike, my husband. I only had to use it twice that year that I rode my bike to work, but knowing that he could come get me if I needed eased my mind quite a bit.
Riding my bike to work that summer was the best thing for me. I lost an additional ten pounds that summer and I saved enough money in gas to pay for the bike (and that was before the gas prices exploded). If you have been considering taking an alternative method of transportation to work in an effort to save money or burn calories, biking to work is a wonderful choice. With just a little planning you can bike to work with ease and joy.