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Bicycle Commuting 101

by RL Policar

Route
One of the first things to do is make sure you plan your course. Look at your course to and from work. Watch out for heavy traffic areas as well as road hazards. Also make sure you have a bail out route just incase you experience street closures, and accidents.

Being Prepared

Being the trooper that you are, you will need to be fully prepared for your commuting experience.

Get a Bag

You can easily pick up a nice large backpack from your local Wal-mart for less than $15.00. When you shop for your bag, check the quality of the stitching and gauge to see if it can handle up to 10lbs of load from all your stuff that you stick in there.

If you don’t like having your back sweaty, try checking around for a messenger bag or pannier.

Work Clothes

What I do is make sure I iron all my clothes the night before and fold them neatly and put them in my bag. You can roll up your clothes and place them in your bag to save room, but I found that flat folding is the best way to keep wrinkles away.

Another option is to bring your clothes to your work on the days you don’t ride your bike. If that’s not an option, get a rack and panniers for commuting.

Lights

You will need some lights to see and to be seen. I wrote a great review for the Cygolite Night Rovers on Blue Collar MTB.com, that I purchased from Ebay. You will also need a rear tail light.  Pricepoint.com has inexpensive LED tail lights for as low as $5.

Pump/Patch Kit and Tools

Even though you may not get a flat from thorns on the pavement, you will still need to carry some essentials for your bike. Bring your pump, a patch kit and of course tools. You will never know what kind of problems you will experience in the concrete jungle

Lock

If you’re boss won’t allow you to bring your bike into your office and have it sit next to your desk, then you better get a lock. OnGuard Locks are a great deal! I have the Doberman 5027. This lock is backed by a lifetime warranty that protects you from any manufacturer’s defects. One time my key broke inside the tumbler and they replaced it for free. They even have a protection plan that will cover your bike costs up to $4000 in case theft has occurred while being protected by an OnGuard Lock.

Personal Hygiene

Do all of your co-workers a favor and make sure you take care of this issue. If you don’t have a shower at work, then here’s what has helped me:

I make sure I take a shower in the morning and then use a nifty little product called, “Crystal Body Deodorant.” The Crystal stick works great because it prevents odor causing bacteria to develop once it’s been applied. You put this stuff on just like a regular deodorant right after your shower. Put it under your arms, your feet and yes….even your “boys.” Basically you use the Crystal anywhere that you don’t want becoming stinky.

When you do get to work, you’re most likely going to be sweaty, but not stinky because of the Crystal. So in order to clean up, bring a bar of soap with you in a zip lock bag and a wash cloth. Wash yourself good, making sure you wash your sweaty head, arms and chest. Then splash on a bit of cologne.

If that’s too much trouble, I’ve heard of people using baby wipes. But if smelling like a baby isn’t your thing, then get some Lever 2000 Body Wipes. You get 40 for $3.00

The Payoff

Now that you’re finally at work and cleaned up, you can start thinking about how much money you saved by riding your bike to work. To figure this out, you can easily download an Excel Spread Sheet that my teammate created to help us calculate how much money we do save.

Money is a great motivator for anyone, but there are plenty of benefits from biking to work.  Here’s a few:
1. Your health improves
2. Lose weight
3. You get to ride your bike
4. You save tons of cash
5. You arrive to work and get home, stress free!

 
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11 Responses to “Bicycle Commuting 101”

  1. Nick says:

    I leave a pair of pants at work all week and bring in a fresh shirt. You won’t have to wash them as often, since you’re only wearing them for half the day at work. One less thing to carry back and forth.

  2. Lani says:

    Thanks for the “crash course!” As a bicycle commuting virgin, the info will be very helpful. Although the crystal deodorant thing with your “boys” was too much info for me. But thanks anyway.

  3. Randy says:

    RL, I thought you have 3 girls and no boys?!

  4. RL Policar says:

    Dude, I wouldn’t talk…at least I have 3, you only have 2 girls….wait…did that make sense?

  5. Nick says:

    Another suggestion- if you can’t keep your bike by your desk but you’re not comfortable leaving it locked outside, there may be more options than you think. At work, I keep my bike in a storage area in the basement.

  6. Heather says:

    I would recommend glasses for commuting, because cars kick up stonesand the glasses can prevent injury. I have yellow tinted sunglasses that I use in low light, and regular sun glasses for when it is sunny.

  7. Travis says:

    also the sun glasses are good for small bugs.

  8. Gwen says:

    Hey, Let’s not be sexist. It’s also good to crystal deoderize under the “girls”.

  9. Skitch says:

    I suggest not wearing glasses at all:
    Drivers seem oblivious to riders (we all know) But I have found that making solid eye contact with them makes a big difference. I have been cut off much less since leaving the shades at home. Just my 2 cense.

  10. kokomo61 says:

    I always wear glasses, because of bugs/dust, etc. I’ve found that even when I make DIRECT eye contact with drivers, they still see right past me, so I’m always on a defensive posture on the roads.

    We have showers at work, so I leave my ‘permanent’ gear at work – shoes, belt, shower supplies and a ‘PackTowel’ (microfiber, quick-dry towel). I only have to bring shirt, pants, socks and underwear.

  11. Mick says:

    I’m a high school teacher who commutes by bike. For two years I either locked my bike outside or carried it up to my room, where I changed from rider gear to teacher garb (making sure to get to school early before students were let into the building).

    This year I finally got up the courage to ask the head coach/PE teacher if I could have a locker in the coaches’ looker room and leave my bike there. It’s been a great improvement in my daily routine; no need to haul my bike through the school, no anxiety about colleagues walking in on me while I dress. I do get some funny looks from the basketball team when they are practicing, but I don’t mind.

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