Autumn Gear Guide
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Don’t let inclement weather, impatient drivers, time constraints, and technical difficulties get in the way of your bike commute.
There are many reasons why people find alternative ways to get to work besides driving a car. Cycling is one of the most popular forms of alternative commuting. The health benefits of commuting by bike are many, it’s better for the environment, and it’s fun. However, inclement weather, impatient drivers, time constraints, and technical difficulties can all add up to make your cycle commute less than ideal.
By taking a few steps like motivating yourself, choosing the right gear, prioritizing safety, planning the best route, and thinking ahead, you can improve your morning bicycle commute and look forward to it every day.
Reminding yourself why you decided to commute by bike in the first place can be a central pillar in improving your ride. If you aren’t clear about why you’re doing it, commuting could feel tiring and like a drag. You might even find yourself longing for the car.
So remind yourself that not only is moving your legs essential for healthy veins and circulation, but cardiovascular activity improves breathing capacity and can help decrease stress. By biking to work, you’re taking care of your body.
Getting some exercise in before a day at the office can help clear and focus your brain so you show up bright-eyed and ready to get to work. It also gives you a little “me time” before arriving at the office, surrounded by co-workers and stressful deadlines.
You can also take comfort in the fact that your bike-to-work routine is helping the environment. Fewer cars on the road means fewer emissions and less wear and tear. If more people commuted by bike, our planet might not be in such a dire state.
So the next time you feel yourself dreading your commute or are feeling too tired or overwhelmed to be excited by the saddle, remind yourself of these things to motivate you and send you on your way with a smile on your face.
You don’t need to have the latest and greatest gear to be a happy and successful bike commuter, but every bike commuter knows that faulty gear can lead to problems along the way that make commuting more of a hassle than a joy.
At the bare minimum, you need a safe bike that stops and shifts gears without any trouble and a good quality helmet. Beyond having these essential items that you know you can depend on, however much gear you add on top of that is up to you.
I find that having the right layers makes me much happier on my commute. Layers are important because the ride always starts off chillier and warms up as the sun rises and also as my body begins to heat up with the physical activity.
A rear rack and panniers can also be really helpful to ease the strain on your back of lugging you gear to and from work. A bike bell mounted on your handlebars is a great tool for navigating busy streets or bike paths and makes a great alternative to saying “on your left” upwards of 20 times a day.
Safety is not only extremely important as a bicycle commuter, but it can also make your ride more enjoyable. If you don’t have to worry about the basics of safety, you can spend more of your energy enjoying your ride and appreciating your commute time.
For commuters cycling early in the morning, a reflective jacket and lights are pretty close to essential. You’re not safe if you’re not visible. You’ll also likely want a sturdy bike lock so your gear stays safe once you arrive at work.
A tube repair kit and bike pump will help ensure that you don’t get stranded halfway to the office if you get a flat time. If you’re unsure of how to use these things effectively, it’s a good idea to take a basic bike repair and maintenance class to learn the basics.
The shortest route is not always the best route, as many bicycle commuters know. In an ideal world, you could ride on a dedicated bike path the entire way to work. Cycling a few extra miles is often worth it if it means avoiding a street with heavy traffic or a road that doesn’t have a bike lane.
Aside from safety, there’s an enjoyment component for taking the scenic route. Part of the reason to ride your bike to work is to enjoy yourself. Savor the pedal strokes, knowing you’re doing a favor for your body and mind before the work day starts.
If there’s one rule for bike commuting, it’s that planning ahead is a major key to success. Nothing ruins a good bike commute like a surprise rainstorm, road closure, or gear malfunction.
Plan ahead as much as possible the night before your commute. Check the weather and lay out the appropriate clothes, gear, and food for your day. Plan your route around any road or bike path closures and be sure to check the tire pressure and brakes on your bike, as well as the battery power of your lights.
These may seem like unnecessary precautions, but you’ll thank yourself in the morning. You should also think about how you’ll transition from the bike to the office. Where will you lock your bike? Will you need a change of clothes? What time do you need to leave your house in order to get there on time? Having a solid commuting plan will really improve your morning bicycle commute.
Commuting to work by bike is a great way to reduce stress, build movement into your day, and show up to work focused and awake. By motivating yourself, using the right gear, putting safety first, planning a solid route, and preparing the night before, your morning bicycle commute will be safe and fun.