Plan Ahead – Bike commuting is not high tech, but planning ahead can greatly increase your enjoyment of the commute. If the commute isn’t enjoyable, you won’t keep doing it. A good plan, incorporating the other rules, is the cornerstone of an enjoyable commute that you’ll come to love. Besides some of the obvious things such as clothing, bike equipment and such, decide what you do when something goes wrong. Like really wrong. Even the most experienced bike commuter can get a flat tire in the rain, or have a chain break, or brakes that suddenly don’t work right. If the plan is to call for help, make sure help will be at the other end of that phone line. There is no AAA for urban bike commuters.
|Plan Your Commute|
|Test Various Clothing Combos|
Maybe not all at Once, However
|Hold Off on Buying a Lot of Stuff at First|
Get Smart – Of COURSE you know how to ride a bike, and how to adjust it, and so on. Still, keep in mind professional cyclists benefit from coaching. Come to think of it, professional cyclists use education far more than “regular” bike riders. Take a Bike Ed course, even if you’ve been riding for years. Trust me on this, you WILL learn something that will help you get there safer, and easier, and with less in the way of unexpected failures. Your coach will see things you can improve that you will NEVER see. My coach found bike adjustments that helped me after I’d been riding for many years, and found simple things that help me daily on the street. The added confidence will help that ride be just a little safer and a little more fun. Little things really DO mean a lot. Looking at it another way, if you are already “practically perfect in every way,” you’ll confirm it. If not, why delay?
|Get Smart, Get Educated!|
Start at a Good Time – Don’t make your first commute on the hottest or coldest day of the year. If I had to pick a “best” date, I’d pick late spring, after the schools have let out for summer, when there’s lots of light, on a dry day, and before it gets hot. If you’re having a good time commuting, you can always figure out how to deal with tougher situations afterwards when you have the basics nailed. For your first commute, if you’ve planned and tested, make that run based on the results. Keep in mind that driving part of the distance and riding part way can lower the threshold of that first commute even further. You want success.
|Don't Pick a Morning Like This for Your First Commute|
Be Flexible – Once you start commuting for real, you’ll quickly discover that some of your plans and test results don’t turn out as you expected. Maybe there’s a traffic light that won’t change. Maybe it takes longer than you expected. Maybe you can’t park the bike where you expected. Maybe you get sweatier riding in work clothes than you expected. Maybe they started construction work on your route. Well, all these things have solutions. It’s your job to find clever solutions that are consistent with your cycling being fun and safe. Commuting is always the same until it changes, but it changes often.
|Perhaps a Route Change is in Order|
Optimize – A corollary to flexibility is the principle that there is almost always a better way to make a given commute. If your commute is more than a couple of miles, you will see alternate routes and short cuts. You’ll find clothing combinations that work better. You’ll want to get there just a little quicker. You’ll find a route variant that is simply nicer. You’ll be able to deal with more weather situations. I’ve been making my “new” commute for well over a year and it is a rare week I don’t find some way to make it a little better. I find tweaks that reduce traffic stress. I redo my clothing arrangements. It’s always something. I can’t BELIEVE how ignorant I was a year ago, much less two years ago.
|Dutch Says LISTEN to|
Other Commuters, But VERIFY
Diverge and Digress – Cycle commuting, particularly if you have a longer distance to ride, can represent a large portion of the time you devote to cycling. What’s more, if you are doing it properly, it can become routine. I’ll freely admit that developing a more reliable way of triggering a traffic signal in the dark may lack a certain devil-may-care cachet, but it breaks up the routine. To spice things up, make a point of doing non-commute cycling, “just for the fun of it.” That can be as simple as taking the long way home, or taking up some sort of trail riding, or whatever else keeps all this fresh for you. If you lack inspiration, I suggest cyclocross. Mud and guts and tossing your cookies and all that. On second thought, maybe cyclocross isn’t for everyone.
|Cyclocross Can Make Your Commute Seem Even MORE Relaxing!|
|Do NOT Run Over an Unlit Stinky in the Dark!|