FACT: Driving to work is boring
FACT: Riding a bike is fun
It’s a simple equation really, but one often overlooked. The problem with driving to work, (or anywhere for that matter), is that it’s boring and you generally wish it was over. Then you get to work and you’re down and out before even punching the clock. The mind numbness of sitting in traffic bombarded by commercial radio ads in all their high volume and compressed hysteria…no wonder we’re all depressed and hate our jobs.
“Imagine if there was a better way, a pathway to happiness, energy and aliveness.”
BUT, imagine if there was a better way, a pathway to happiness, energy and aliveness. Imagine starting the day on the front foot instead of the back. It’s all available, and it’s called bicycle commuting.
Yeah okay, perhaps a little dramatic, but I can speak from experience that riding to work is an awesome way to start the day. You get to work feeling more alert, alive and ready to tackle all those challenges, big and small, in a typical day at work. On top of that, it keeps you fit and healthy, and allows you to really enjoy that midmorning chunk of cake.
So what’s involved and what do I need?
Any bike will work, but one with bigger wheels will work better. The larger diameter 700c wheels on a hybrid, flat bar road bike or drop bar road bike roll with little resistance and therefore require less effort to pedal than a fat mountain bike tyre for example. If you are stuck with a mountain bike, try swapping out the knobby tyres for something narrower with a slick “city” tread. This makes a huge difference on the road and actually increases grip.
Hybrids and flat bar road bikes can also be equipped with panniers, racks or other mounted accessories to make carrying work stuff more easily without compromising performance.
To E or not to E?
Electric bikes have come in leaps and bounds recently and are a great option if working up a sweat before donning your office attire is not a practical way to begin the day. You don’t get the same workout as a normal bike, but the thrill of trucking along on an electric bicycle is a joy of its own…and the parking is cheaper.
Gearing up in skin tight lycra isn’t necessary to ride to work. There are many options. Mountain bike shorts often have a discreet chamois which no one will know about and makes for extremely comfortable riding, but on a short ride you may not even require this. Just make sure your shorts or trousers allow plenty of movement to pedal and aren’t flapping around near the gears and chain.
Cycling tops are breathable, dry quickly and are cut so they don’t blow about while riding. There are lots of casual options if you want to remain more incognito.
Grab a helmet and you’re ready!
Lights are a legal requirement for riding at night and could mean the difference between getting home safely or not. I don’t mess about in this area and so I bought the brightest lights I could afford and use them religiously. Visibility is everything when riding on the road – contrary to many viewpoints out there, car drivers really don’t want to hurt people, even cyclists! Make it easy for other road users to avoid a bad situation by becoming as noticeable as possible.
“Make it easy for other road users to avoid a bad situation by becoming as noticeable as possible.”
Daytime running lights
My colleague keeps both lights on during his daytime morning ride as well as at night. Again this is a great idea because it helps keep other road users alert to your presence. That bright flicking light in a drivers peripheral vision might mean you don’t end up skipping work because you were in the hospital getting patched up.
Riding in traffic
As I’ve already said visibility is everything on the road. None wants an accident, riding so you are well seen by other road users is crucial. When on the road, bike lanes are your friend, but if there aren’t any stay to the left and ride a consistent line – avoid swerving in and out around parked cars – it makes your movements hard to predict. Staying consistent allows drivers to respond to your presence safely.
Sometimes you will have to move into traffic. Make exaggerated hand signals to indicate your intended manoeuvre, check twice, then move into the flow. Remember you are probably a lot slower than the surrounding traffic so friendly wave or gestures to drivers who may be held up is one way to encourage everyone sharing the roads.
“Make exaggerated hand signals to indicate your intended manoeuvre, check twice, then move into the flow.”
Want to know where the best routes are in you area? Stop in to your LOCAL BIKE SHOP and ask some of the employees there. Some or most of them ride to work daily and can give further advice about the best routes and gear to make your morning commute enjoyable.