We’ve reached the end of the week, and the end of my bike-to-work series. I’d consider it a success, and will likely keep biking to work sporadically.
I did miss one day (Wednesday), but the other three went as well as I could have possibly imagined.
The route was relatively easy, my legs feel great and I never had a close encounter with a car. (Sidenote: Pedestrians on the greenway stress me out more than cars. They — and their kids and dogs — are so unpredictable.)
If I did nothing else, I hope I showed that biking to work is something anyone can do. I’m not in great shape and I’m not an expert rider, and I rode 11-12 miles to work three days this week without any major problems. (And I finally remembered to bring my lock to work on Thursday!)
If you’ve ever thought about biking to work, you should. Here are some tips based on my experience — and the guidance I’ve received from many others who have been doing this for way longer.
TL;DR: If you want to bike to work, do it. It’s not hard.
— Anello Grande 🚴 (@AnelloGrande) October 22, 2015
(1) Get a bike.
The obvious first step. It doesn’t really matter what kind of bike, in my opinion, just make sure it’s in good working order: chain clean and lubed, working brakes, etc. If you don’t know what the heck you’re doing — I don’t — take it to a bike shop and the nice people there will take care of you.
Other basic necessities: helmet, front and back lights, a spare tube and pump.
(2) Map a route.
Make sure you choose a route that fits your experience and comfort level. There are some people that can ride on a busy street for miles with no problem. That’s not me. I went out of my way to avoid major roads. Use apps like Strava or Map My Ride to explore some routes, then drive the route so you know what to expect.
Also, figure out how you’re going to carry your things (I used a backpack) and check out what — if any — facilities your office has for bike storage and/or showering. I hope your shower is less creepy than this one in my office.
(3) Don’t be intimidated by mileage.
When I talked to Jordan Moore, the Sustain Charlotte bike guy (not his official title), I asked him about the length of his commute and he looked at me like I’d insulted a member of his family. Odometers are for cars, he said.
He has a point. On paper, 12 miles seems like a long way. But you might be surprised by how far you can bike with little to no previous training. I hadn’t ridden in weeks before this week and, while I could feel it in my legs on some hills, 24 miles a day was doable.
At the same time …
(4) Listen to your body.
I started feeling sick Tuesday night. I don’t know if it was just a cold, if it was my body’s reaction to a sudden increase in exercise, or something totally unrelated. But I took Wednesday off and I think it was the right call.
My rides yesterday went smoothly, as if my body was thanking me for the break. So, if you’re feeling bad after a day of riding, maybe take a day off. But I bet you’ll be surprised by how fast your body acclimates to a daily commute.
(5) Take advantage of the bike community.
I’ve probably gotten more email and SM messages about this series than any other story I’ve written for C5. That says more about the bike community than it does my writing.
A passionate bike commuting community exists, and it can be very helpful. I’ve already mentioned Moore, but there’s also Pam Murray, who leads a Cycling Savvy class (the next one is Oct. 30); Joe Frey and Jeff Viscount, guys who are really tapped into the biking community; Cece Stronach, who uses a bike as her main mode of transportation and helped inspire this; and many, many more who reached out to me this week.
— Elisabeth Blum (@Epodair) October 21, 2015
If you want to bike to work, you are not alone. And maybe, in time, you’ll be the norm rather than the exception.
Corey Inscoe is editor of CharlotteFive and is heading up to Virginia this weekend to ride down the Virginia Creeper Trail. His legs are ready. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyInscoe.