How to get started biking to work

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Bike to Work Day is coming up, and many people are inspired to participate. Surprisingly, the first step is NOT looking for a bike.  Buying a bike isn’t going to guarantee that you’re going to bike to work!  Planning the details will prepare yourself and to get the correct bike for the job.  Also, unlike driving, you are responsible for the time that it takes you to get to work on the bike… there’s no excuse of traffic, or accident on 805.

Biking to work is completely well-rounded method of transport that avoids bottlenecks of traffic, and it starts the day off with an accountable success.

  1. Find the Route: Google Maps provides Bike and Walk directions to pick from elevation and number of intersections. Once you have a turn by turn route planned, FIRST drive the route.  If at all possible, rent a bike on a weekend to give the RIDE a try.  While Google Maps time estimates are not accurate, don’t underestimate how long some street lights take.
  2. Practice Getting Ready out of a Backpack: Unless your route is under 5 miles away, you may not want to wear your work clothes or shoes on the bike.  If you take your work clothes in a backpack, and wear spandex on the bike, you’ll feel fresh all day.  So the reality check becomes, how long will it take me to get ready from a backpack? (Learning to get ready from a backpack is also the first part of learning to do triathlon hehe)  If there are things that can be left at work like makeup, toiletries, flat shoes, take advantage of the backpack weight and space savings.  I’ve rarely had a workplace that I could leave personal belongings in, so I just had to buy the travel sizes for a separate biking baglette.  Once you have your outfit and toiletries, FIRST practice getting ready at work.  Drive to work in your pajamas, or after a morning workout and only using the contents of your backpack, time yourself at getting ready.  This part is very important to your confidence getting to work by bike.  When you get to your desk, you need to be On Time & feeling ready for the day; regardless what your position is.  PREPARE everything you need, and PACK it in the backpack the night before.
  3. Determine your morning schedule: Using the data from Step #1 and Step #2, determine what time you’d need to leave HOME to arrive at work, with enough time to get ready.  I like to give myself at least 10 minutes cushion time added to this so I can exhale at least once on the bike ride.
  4. Buy a bike, helmet, lights: Only after those 3 previous steps, is it appropriate to look for a bike. Your budget is only a portion of the decision on which bike to get. Is your route to work hilly? You will need to get a bike that has gears, with a light frame, and road tires to handle debris.  Where will you park your bike when you get to work, is there indoor security or will it be on the street?  If you can bring it into the office, that’s ideal since you won’t need to carry the weight of a huge lock! If it’s on the street, I don’t care if the area “looks” safe, don’t buy a brand new $700 bike or it won’t be there when you get back.  The beach cruisers or triathlon aero-style bicycles are niche for certain types of rides… neither being city commuting to work.  The road/cross bicycle will give you agility up hills due to the seat position, and narrow handlebars in order to offer better control to weave through lights and traffic.
  5. Accessories: HOLD OFF ON ACCESSORIES.  The city commuter cycling rule I agree is fare is “don’t embellish your bike until you’ve ridden one mile per dollar that you spent on it.”  A bicycle doesn’t have to be expensive, just get a flat kit, lights and a helmet and a lock.  Leave the gloves, bike shoes, mileage computer, and all these other gadgets for when you actually ride and then you’ll know what you need.

Any other questions? With a can-do attitude, anything is possible.

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