The above weather forecast is making me very happy. Finally I'll be able to ride in to work every day this week! I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that we are lucky in Calgary since we have such a great bike path system. It is really easy to commute in to work on your bike and you don't need to share the road with crazy rush hour drivers and breathe in exhaust fumes. Now that I've been commuting in off and on for a bit I think I have a system down so I thought I would share some tips:
- Check out your options: Have a look at the maps - what different routes can you take in to work? Is there a way to avoid busy streets? If the route from home is too long or isn't ideal, is there a park & ride that you can start from? Also look into what your bike parking options are. I was surprised to find out that we have secure underground parking available for a small yearly fee. Then you have less worry about your seat post or front tire going missing during the day if you lock your bike on the street. I would suggest riding the route beforehand so you know how long it will take you and you are aware of what challenges may face you (like uphills, downhills, bumpy roads) rather than worrying about them when you are trying to make it to the office on day one.
- A closet full of choices at work: I'm fortunate to have an office at work, not a cubicle. This means I can keep a stash of clothes at work so I don't have to carry my work clothes in with me every day. You can bring them in on days when you drive to work, or if you are really keen, you can drop them off on the weekend. So far I'm not really keen though. No office to hang stuff up in? The bottom drawer of a file cabinet works well for storing clothes, shoes and other essentials as well. Really, I have 6 pairs of shoes at work right now. I also have a purse that I leave at work so I only need to carry my wallet on me when I bike. A girl need options, right?
- A good pack will watch your back: I picked up a fantastic Camelbak earlier in the season that I thought would be great for hiking. Little did I know that it would turn out to be the best thing I could have gotten for biking. For the commute I don't need the bladder, but it has plenty of cargo capacity for any clothes, shoes or breakfast items I need to haul in. It also has an air director on the back of the pack so my back doesn't get too sweaty. You can also get a rack and pannier for your bike if you don't want to carry something on your back.
- No one likes a stinky coworker: We don't have showers at the office here unless you are a member of the gym in the basement. No showers doesn't mean that you have to stink your coworkers out of their offices making you the office pariah. I keep a stash of baby wipes, deodorant and body spray in my office to ensure that I don't turn into a skunk. Victoria's Secret makes some terrific body sprays that smell nice, but aren't overpowering (that are available at La Senza in Canada).
If you are really new at this bike thing:
- Go technical: This one sounds like a no brainer, but don't wear your office clothes to bike in. I do see people from time to time pedaling in their dress pants so I felt the need to mention it. And invest in some padded shorts. Yes, they look really funny if you walk around in them, but they literally save your behind. Plus the compression fabric does wonders for your rear end. Trust me.
- Safety first: Find out what your city requires for lights, reflectors, bells and helmets. But wear a helmet (that fits properly) because it is good for your noggin. Also, invest in a good lock for your bike and learn how to use it properly. Gloves are a good investment too.
Cycling to work is a great way to get an extra workout in, it just takes a bit of planning. Good luck!