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Bike Commuting for Beginners: 7 Tips for a Better Ride

When I realized that the price of my month-to-month parking storage move was greater than doubling to $75 a month, I balked. Seventy-five a month simply to babysit my automobile whereas I’m at work? 

So on a muggy September morning in 2018, I made a decision to provide bike commuting a shot. I didn’t plan my route. Or my outfit. Or take my bike for a check journey, though I hadn’t ridden it in months. Hey, what may go flawed in 2 miles?

I took my typical path to work — a busy road with no bike lanes and a rickety sidewalk the place cyclists aren’t precisely welcome within the site visitors lanes. Funny what you don’t discover out of your automobile.

My darkish denims and black tunic have been drenched in sweat lower than a mile into my journey. Not a nice selection of biking apparel for mid-90s temperatures.

But it wasn’t simply the end-of-summer warmth that was making me sweat. I felt like I used to be biking uphill — and I reside in Florida. I requested myself: Was biking all the time this tough? Have my leg muscle mass atrophied?

Then a man standing at a bus cease identified the plain: My tires wanted air.

7 Tips for Anyone Who Wants to Start Bike Commuting

I survived the 2-mile journey to work. Then I Ubered house that afternoon.

A number of days later, temperatures dropped barely, and a useful co-worker put air in my tires. I made a decision to provide bike commuting one other strive — if solely to get my bike house. This time, I deliberate my route and took a road with bike lanes.

Since then, I’ve develop into an avid bike commuter. I like that I get to train throughout my commute, and I’m additionally saving cash. Since I reside near work, my financial savings on fuel are minimal, however I’ve been capable of ditch the $75-a-month parking move. Plus, I’m much less liable to after-work impulse buys. If I cease on the grocery retailer after work, I’m restricted to what I can slot in my bike basket.

Want to strive biking to work? Here are a few ideas I want I had recognized earlier than I attempted bike commuting.


(Clockwise left to proper) Recommended or must-have gadgets for your bicycle commute: dry shampoo for helmet hair, an additional shirt, a poncho, a bicycle helmet and a water bottle. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

1. Do a Weekend Test Run

It’s nice when you’ll be able to determine issues — like that your route of selection doesn’t have bike lanes or your tires want air — if you’re not pedaling furiously to a assembly at rush hour.

Test out your commute by doing a follow run throughout the weekend. You could also be stunned by simply how bike-unfriendly your regular route is. 

Make certain to put on your work apparel when you plan to journey in the identical clothes you put on throughout the day. Seeing simply how a lot you sweat may change your thoughts.

2. Dry Shampoo Is Your Friend

Wearing a helmet is nonnegotiable everytime you journey your bike, OK? So which means helmet hair is one thing you’re going to should take care of.

Dry shampoo is useful when you might want to freshen as much as make your self presentable for the workplace.

three. Plan Your Outfit Around Your Commute

Riding your bike to work is a lot simpler if you don’t should do a full change of costume if you get to the workplace. Opt for light-weight, breathable materials like cotton or linen to reduce sweat throughout your journey. If you put on skirts or attire, throw on a pair of bicycle shorts or leggings beneath. (Long skirts and attire are finest prevented, although.) 

Keep a spare shirt helpful in your backpack in case you sweat greater than typical otherwise you journey via grime or mud. (It occurs.)

Pro Tip

If you might want to pack your garments and alter on the workplace, a travel-size bottle of wrinkle spray is useful. No, your outfit received’t look freshly pressed, however it’ll easy issues out a bit.

four. Lighten Your Load Already

You’re saving cash by bike commuting. But until you wish to fork over that cash after which some to your chiropractor, maintain your backpack as gentle as doable. Investing in saddlebags or a bike crate will probably be effectively price it when you’ve got plenty of stuff to cart to and from work.

5. Ask Your Employer for Storage Space

Bikes are finest saved indoors, the place they’re much less more likely to get stolen. Plus, they’re extra more likely to rust when uncovered to rain or snow. 

Here at The Penny Hoarder’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, we’re fortunate to have a passcode-protected bike closet. If your office doesn’t have a designated house for bikes, ask your employer to create one — or at the least if there’s a suitable place that you may stash your bike.

If that’s not doable, maintain your bike locked up in a busy space with two various kinds of locks.

Pro Tip

Your automobile isn’t the one factor that wants a tune-up: Your bike ought to get a tune-up anyplace from each few months to as soon as a yr, relying on how a lot you journey. Expect to pay $30 to $80.

6. Be Prepared for Bad Weather

Here in Florida, storms are a bit unpredictable. I maintain a kid-size poncho in my backpack that I can come out if it begins to drizzle. The kid-size half is vital as a result of it’s quick sufficient that it doesn’t get in the way in which of pedaling. 

Obviously, when there’s lightning or excessive climate, you shouldn’t be biking. So have a backup plan for the times that you just aren’t capable of bike to work. 

Make certain of a parking choice that doesn’t require a month-to-month move, a bus route that’s near your workplace or a co-worker who may give you a journey. Otherwise, you’ll have to work the occasional Uber or Lyft into your price range.

7. Don’t Give up Your Parking Pass… Yet

So you’ve had your first profitable bike commute? Congrats!

Still, grasp onto your parking move for at the least a couple weeks. It’s nice when bike commuting occurs with out a hitch. But what occurs if you’re working late, you could have a physician’s appointment earlier than work or you might want to run house at lunchtime? 

Once you’ve skilled a few disruptions to your common routine, you’ll be able to higher assess whether or not giving up parking is possible. 

Is Bike Commuting for You?

A woman waits to ride a cross a busy road while bike commuting.
Robin waits to cross a busy street on her approach to work. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

This isn’t actually an if-I-can-do-it-anyone-can sort of factor. There are a lot of causes bicycle commuting has labored for me: 

I’ve a versatile schedule. I solely work daytime. My office is informal. I reside and work in a bike-friendly pocket of St. Petersburg, Florida, which implies I don’t should take care of snowstorms and subzero temperatures. I don’t have youngsters to shuttle to and from faculty or day care. Most importantly, I really feel protected bike commuting.

If you wish to strive it, decide to doing it three or 4 instances over the subsequent months. Take it from me: Your first strive could not go completely. But after three or 4 instances, you’ll get the grasp of it.

What when you hate it? Then it’s most likely not price no matter cash you save. Your very best commute is one which doesn’t depart you frazzled earlier than you’ve even gotten to work.

But don’t be stunned when you get hooked. I discover my workdays a lot extra pleasing once they begin and finish with a bike journey as an alternative of circling a dusty parking storage. And the $75 I’m saving is a fairly candy bonus.

Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She edits and writes tales about financial institution accounts, credit score scores, house shopping for, insurance coverage, investing, retirement and taxes. She can also be the voice behind the Dear Penny private recommendation column, which is syndicated within the Tampa Bay Times Sunday enterprise part.

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