I love riding my bicycle to work. In the past, I have actually chosen where to live based on the distance and time that it would take me to ride my bike to work. I find that riding my bike to and from work gives me the perfect combination of physical exercise and mental relaxation (some call it mental disconnect) between my work life and my home life. Beyond that, I can really see the benefits of riding my bike to work. I notice the stark contrast in my energy and stress levels and my mental focus between the days I ride my bike to work and the days I do not. ‘What,’ you say, ‘I don’t actually ride my bike to work EVERY DAY?’ That’s right, I don’t. Sometimes it rains, and other times circumstances that are out of my control dictate that I’m unable to commute to work by bike. The cool thing is that I do find commuting by bike to be fun and enjoyable and can’t recall a day when I’ve done it reluctantly.
Give it a try on a perfect weather kind of day and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or three on any given week. The key is to just start commuting by bike in order to discover the benefits for yourself. Once you get hooked on bicycle commuting, you will lament the days you miss.
5 Reasons to Bike to Work
1. IT IS FUN
Being able to ride your bike to work snaps you out of your sleep coma and gets the blood flowing to your brain and body faster than your usual three cups of coffee. Arriving to work bright-eyed and full of exercise induced energy makes you more aware and productive.
2. IT LOWERS YOUR STRESS LEVEL
It is a fact: exercise lowers your stress level. Riding your bike to work gives you time to erase any worries or concerns you may have back home so that you can give 100% attention to the approaching work day. Likewise, your bike ride home, after a long day’s work, allows you ample time to expunge thoughts of the trivial problems you had to deal with at work.
3. IT IS CONVENIENT
Parking your bike at work is not only easier to do than finding a vacant spot for your car, but it’s most likely much cheaper. One more element of convenience your bicycle will add to your work day is the potential to extend your lunch break location choices to places beyond walking distance from your workplace.
4. IT GETS YOU OUT IN THE FRESH AIR
Enjoy fresh air as you ride to and from work, and take pleasure in the knowledge that by choosing to commute by bicycle you are not adding to the problem of air pollution.
5. IT GIVES YOU FREEDOM
When you commute by bicycle you WILL learn more about the city, town, or village where you live and work. Your morning commute will require you to learn the quickest and safest route to your workplace while your after work ride will implore you to slow your pace in order to explore your surroundings as you gleefully meander along unfamiliar paths to discover hidden locales.
What Should I Wear?
Dressing for the Ride
Don’t worry, you do not need to go out and buy a whole new load of expensive bicycle clothes. The only essential items you will need are a bicycle, a helmet, comfortable clothing, and a backpack. If you would rather not wear a backpack, then you can substitute a bicycle basket or a small set of panniers in order to carry your belongings to and from work.
Riding in the Rain (If you want to)
You have two choices when and if you decide to ride your bike to and from work in the rain. Choice #1 – Wear work clothes and cover them up with rain gear (basic rain gear is a jacket and rain pants) that you can remove when you arrive at work. This first choice is not particularly my favorite method. Choice #2 – Wear your normal cycling clothes and get wet during the ride, but change into dry work clothes upon arrival. Also, you will change into a fresh, dry set of cycling clothes for the ride back home after work. The method you use will depend a lot on your workplace. Are you able to store work and cycling clothes at your workplace? You do not necessarily need more than an empty drawer of a desk or a small area of a washroom to store one set of work day clothes, including shoes. If you can not store clothes at your workplace, simply carry them in your backpack under your rain gear.
How to Look Professional after Cycling
Best case scenario is if your workplace building has showers. If not, then a washroom with stalls will work just fine. If your commute isn’t long or particularly difficult, it’s not necessary to do a full wash up. Moist towelettes, body powder, and antiperspirant spray will do the trick. A small towel and basic toiletries bag can be kept at work and will provide you with everything you will need to put the finishing touches on your face, hair, and makeup (Tip for the ladies-wait until you arrive at work to apply makeup). Bicycle Commuting 101.
Top 6 Bike to Work Tips
1. Install a bell or horn on your commuter bicycle. This will help you alert other cyclists and pedestrians of your presence. Some commuters wear a whistle to alert others over loud city traffic noise.
2. Follow the rules of the road. Use hand signals to show which direction you are going.
3. Figure out your intended route before your first day of commuting to work. Get a map of the area you want to ride in, check Google Maps for alternate routes, and if possible check with other cyclists that you have seen riding in your area. Do a weekend test run of your intended route and keep track of how long it takes you to complete. Give yourself some extra time on your first day of commuting.
5. Buy lights and a lock. Use lights when riding at night to be more visible. Purchase good lights – a white front one and a red rear one. Purchase a good lock to prevent bicycle theft. Consider having two locks; one for your workplace and one for your home so that you never have to carry a heavy lock in your backpack while you commute.
6. Convince workplace friends or others from nearby companies to begin biking to work. Riding to work with others will make your bicycle commute safer and more fun. NO TALKING ABOUT WORK DURING THE RIDE. You will be less likely to miss a day of bike commuting if you have others meeting you somewhere along your route in order to ride to work together.