We’re four days in to the #30daysofbiking challenge, and I’ve yet to set tires on a trail. Tuesday the weather forecast called for afternoon winds of up to 40 mph with “areas of blowing dust.” So I rode to work in the morning, rode home at lunch,and then drove back to avoid inhaling half of Utah.
Wednesday it was sleeting when I left for work (in the car). Lunchtime provided a brief respite of sun, so I managed three laps around the park before it clouded up and began to rain again.
Thursday morning was below freezing. I biked back to work after lunch and then home.
Today (Friday) I had actually thought about throwing all my mountain bike gear in the car and going for a lunch ride at Lunch Loop (it’s 6 minutes from work). But wouldn’t you know it: my fork is leaking! It’s in the shop and should be ready by Saturday morning… when it’s supposed to be raining again.
Such “First World Problems,” right? “The weather won’t cooperate, so I can’t ride my mountain bike!” It sounds so trite next to, “the weather won’t cooperate, so I can’t grow food for my family/feed my cow/walk the six miles one-way to school.”
So, while it’s not the singletrack that we all love so much, I have gotten pretty good at biking to work. I’ve been doing it a few times a week for years now, and I feel like I’ve pretty much perfected it. Here are 5 tips for biking to work when you can’t bike on the dirt.
1. Pack your lunch the night before.
This way, when I’m running around in the am throwing work clothes in a bag, grabbing a hairbrush, etc., I don’t have to think about lunch. I just grab my lunch bag, throw it in the pack, and go.
2. Keep most of your necessities ready at all times.
I have a backpack that I use for commuter rides. In it I always keep a pair of gloves for cold mornings, my bike lock, a spare brush, deodorant, dry shampoo, and at least one hair clip/pony-tail holder.
3. Pack a work outfit that doesn’t need ironing.
If you’re really planning ahead, you could take an extra suit or outfit to work the day before and leave it in your cubicle/office, but normally, I just roll up pants and a shirt or a non-wrinkle dress and throw it in my bag. Don’t forget your shoes!
4. Keep some hygiene products around for warm days or longer commutes.
Baby wipes are great for cleaning up after a sweaty commute.
5. Find a route that works for you.
Everyone has their own way of road biking. People like this route because the traffic is one-way, others like that route because it has fewer stoplights. When we moved recently, I had to find a new route. I’ve finally discovered one that is almost entirely on almost-empty side streets. I have two busy intersections to cross, and I do it on streets with no red lights. Some might see this as more dangerous, but these streets are also less likely to have cars crossing the same intersections. I don’t have to breath car exhaust while waiting for a light to change, and I don’t have to worry about cars trying to pass me as we’re going through the light.
On the days when I bike to work, I find that I am much more productive. I tend to start working earlier than I might otherwise (we all know how mornings go: you have to stand around and chat…) and I think my brain seems to just function better after that ride to work.
If you get a chance, try it out! You might find yourself meeting that #30daysofbiking challenge every month.