- Gather your gear. Gather the bag or pack that you'll use to transport your stuff. I like to pack my stuff in the morning because I've been doing it so long. It's just part of my morning routine. However, if you're out of practice or a novice, I'd gather everything together and make sure it fits - one more time. Things to pack: Bike lock, keys, helmet, wallet/ID and cell phone. Other considerations: Change of clothes, brush, makeup, jewelry, a lunch or snacks, books, laptop map, an extra tube, patch kit, tire levers, hex key....
**Please note: Woah. That list of other things to pack is growing. Here's a helpful hint: The amount of stuff you pack should be based on what you need to help you feel comfortable - during the ride and for the day. Some folks are light packers, others take the "Always Be Prepared" approach. The basics for commuting are listed in first, and then add to that based on preference. And be aware preferences may change over time.
My experience: Since I've been commuting for a while, I pack the morning of, but when I was starting out, I made sure everything was together the night before.
- Double check - the weather, your bike & route. The Route: You should already have a planned route at this point. If you don't, just hop online and do a bit of researching of roads, streets and/or paths to take. Consider having your smart phone handy to help with navigation, print or draw out a map or write down street names. There's no shame in having a few things to help you out. In riding new places, I've been known to stash a map in a spare pocket. The Bike: The best way to have a good ride is to have your bike in good, safe, working condition. Hopefully the bike of your choice has been given a solid tune-up. (If not, spending an extra 10 - 30 minutes to pump up tires and lube the chain will be worth it.) Spend a quick 5 minutes going over the tires for flats, gear shifters, working brakes and a well-lubed chain. The Weather: Take an extra minute to double check the forecast. If all goes as planned, smooth sailing - or bike riding - should be in store for you tomorrow!
My experience: When it comes to the weather, I keep an eye on things throughout the week since I commute 3-5 times a week by bike. If it's going to rain or a chance for rain, I have a back up plan in mind. When it comes to my bike, I pump up the tires once a week, and give a good once over my chain...realistically 2-3 times a month. This makes a noticeable improvement in my bike riding. My route is pretty routine, but I've made a few adjustments from time to time.
- Plan extra time. Here, I strongly recommend giving yourself plenty. Of extra. Time. Time to get ready in the morning. Time to prepare your bike to ride. Time to get to work or destination. And, if necessary (as it is in my case), time to change into workplace attire. Your morning routine may need some adjustment. Do you want to bike before or after eating breakfast? Do you need to back a few things on your bike or are you ready to roll? How long will it take you to get to work? What takes me 12 minutes by car takes me 30 by bike. The time it takes to get to your destination also depends on how fast you ride.
My experience: Extra time is really important, especially when you're starting out. Planning your arrival to meet the demands, expectations and responsibilities of your job is important. I typically arrive 5-10 minutes before my work day, giving myself time to cool down while I check my email. Then I take anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes to change based on the day's attire. (Hey, a girl's gotta look good, right?) Then, I settle into my work day.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
HTCBB: Preparations the Night Before
It's time for another installment of the "How to Commute by Bike" series. Previous posts outlined some tips for a week and then a few days before the ride. Hopefully a route has been established, the gear has been checked out and there's a bit of excitement in the air. It's to be expected. Bike riding is some fun business! Here are some things to do the night before your ride: