The Newbie’s Guide To Biking To Work

Man biking to work
We all know the benefits of biking to work instead of driving: it’s great exercise, it will wake you up and you’ll save money on gas. I can tell you all day WHY you should do it. The thing nobody tells you, and the number one thing that keeps people from biking to work, is HOW you do it. How do you know how much time it will take? How do you keep from looking – and smelling – like you just rode your bike to work?

Preparing for the Ride

Most smartphones will track the amount of time it will take you to bike to work. Look this up at a comparable time before you ride in to work, at 7 a.m. or 5 p.m. on a weekday. Traffic is always going to be heaviest at the time you’re driving into work, so looking at the same path on a Saturday at noon might make it seem shorter than it really is.
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If you don’t have a smartphone, take the ride into work on a weekend, and add an additional two minutes per mile. This should give you a better idea of what it will be like when you have a lot of traffic to compete with. Buy biking clothes that are comfortable and brightly colored. You’re probably more aware of the cars around you than they are of you, so bright clothes are a good way to bring a little more attention to yourself.

The Night Before

Get a backpack ready with the clothes you’ll wear at work. To keep them from getting wrinkled, roll your outfit. Still worried about wrinkles? Throw some wrinkle releaser in your backpack. This will also double as an extra dose of freshness after your ride. Your Biking to Work Backpack Checklist (not all of these will be applicable, depending on your situation):
  • Shirt & Pants or Dress (or you can try out a bike to work clothing shop)
  • Any necessary change in underthings
  • Dress shoes
  • Socks, if applicable
  • Wrinkle releaser
  • Water bottle – and water
  • Body wipes – if your building has a shower, then just plan to leave early and shower there – with shampoo, conditioner and soap, of course – but a lot of us don’t have that luxury at our office, so a quick refresh with a nice body wipe will suffice. We love this brand.
  • Deodorant – even if you put some on before you left your house, do it again when you get to the office
  • Hair brush & dry shampoo – and anything else you’d normally need for your hair
  • Face cleansing clothes and makeup, if applicable
Remember, this list is editable to your needs. If you live down the block and it’s 50 degrees outside, you might not need this much preparation. Use your best judgement when it comes to your commute.

The Morning Of

Choose a breakfast that has a good mix of protein and whole grains, without heavy amounts of sugar. Oatmeal with a dollop of natural nut butter swirled in is an excellent choice, so is a veggie omelet with whole-grain toast. Unless you have a shower at your office, plan to shower in the morning before you leave. This will allow you to be at your most fresh for the ride in to work.

Evaluate & Evolve

For the first few days of biking to work, give yourself a little more time than you really think you need. This will give you a better idea of how much time it takes you to get to work and get ready for the day. It’s better to be a little too early to work than a lot late. This is just a starter’s guide; once you get your rhythm down, adjust all the details to fit your unique biking circumstances. Before you know it, you’ll be inspiring your co-workers to make the same morning commute change.

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