Our lives are so busy at the moment. You get up in the morning and mentally prepare for fighting your way to the office through grid-locked traffic. But what are your options? Public buses can get you to work, but you still have the traffic to contend with. Transit systems are good but overcrowded.
You have to wonder if there is not a better way to do things. And, fortunately for you, there is. And, not only is it going to save you time in traffic, but it will also save you time in the gym and a fair amount of money as well.
It’s Time to Get on Your Bike
By now, we are sure that you realize that we are talking about a bicycle and not a motorbike. The motorbike would also help you avoid getting gridlocked to some extent, but won’t help you work your legs and thighs at the same time. Cycling is great for getting your heart pumping and the blood flowing. You get to enjoy your trip to work for the first time in years and can work out any frustrations of the day on the way back. It is a win-win situation all around:
• You win because you save time, money and you get some stress-busting exercise.
• Your fellow commuters win because there is one less car on the road or person on the bus. And, who knows, you may even inspire them to follow suit.
• The environment wins because there are fewer emissions overall.
• Your family wins because you are healthy and less stressed.
I Don’t Have a Bike
Many metropolitan areas have a local scheme that allows you to hire bikes. You pick up a bike, use it as you like and, when you are done, park it at a drop-off point. London, for example, has the biggest scheme of this type with several collection and drop-off points.Of course, if the town you are living in does not have this kind of scheme, you will need to make alternative arrangements. On the bright side, it is not all that expensive to get started at all.
You will need a bike, of course, and that will be the most expensive purchase. You can get some pretty decent bikes for a couple of hundred dollars or can look around to see if you can find a second hand one. If you are planning on using it to ride to and from work, you don’t need a fancy racing bike – a good old mountain bike will be ideal. If you are using a second-hand bike, it would be money well spent to take it in for a service. That way, they can check that everything is in tip-top shape again.
What Else Do I Need?
Very little, in fact. Your main accessory is the biking helmet, and this should be second only to your bike in terms of price. Do get a good brand here so that your head is properly protected if you do fall. The helmet will mess up your hair, but it is nothing some dry shampoo cannot sort out. Your next accessories are the lights on the front and back of the bike. These make the bike more visible and should be considered essential. It is better to get rechargeable ones so that you don’t have to worry about going through too many batteries.
Clothes-wise, you can wear just about anything that you are comfortable in. You can choose biking shorts or leggings, or just wear normal shorts or jeans if you prefer. When choosing what to wear, be careful of clothes that can get caught up in the chain. There is a reason that you hardly ever see anyone riding a bike with a floaty skirt on. The primary criterion is that the outfits must be comfortable enough to cycle in. If you have a longer trip, it could pay to get some padded shorts. If you want to avoid oil all together, consider a belt-driven commuter bike.
Aside from that, choose a top that is light colored or even neon, or add a reflective vest so that drivers can see you very clearly. You will need a bike chain and puncture kit as well. The chain stops your bike being stolen and the puncture kit will be useful if you have a flat. You might also want to keep a lightweight bicycle pump on hand so that you can re-inflate flat tires if need be. You will possibly also need a water bottle, depending on how far you have to travel each way.
Won’t I Be Messy at Work?
Depending on the pace that you have kept up, you could well be sweaty when you get to work. A way around this is to leave a few clean shirts at work or to carry your work clothes with you. First prize goes to companies that have showers at work. If your company does not, you will need to take baby wipes, deodorant, and dry hair shampoo to clean up with.
How Will I Carry Everything?
That is a good question. For short hauls, a backpack would be perfect. For longer hauls, it will leave your shoulders sore and your back sweaty. As an alternative, look for a bike that has a basket on it. That way, you can store your items safely on the bike while you are riding.
How do I Start
Do a few dry runs first. Ride around your neighborhood for a little while, carrying everything you would on a work day to see what challenges might come up. Is the load balanced? Does it shift? Can you handle it? Once you are confident with your bike, it is time to do your first commute. This should not be in rush hour traffic, though – make sure that you choose a time of day when things are relatively quiet. A weekend might be a better option.
Again, do a few dry runs until you feel comfortable with the entire trip and then you can go for the main event. All in all, commuting by bicycle makes a lot of sense – it will get you feeling and looking at your best and have you saving money. It can help you convert the morning rush-hour waste of time into a productive exercise session. What’s not to love?