Bike to Work: Tips for Your First Commute

7. Do a dry run on the weekend.

If you're nervous about how much time it will take you to get to work, do a dry run on the weekend. Ride at an easy pace, knowing that if you were in a bind for time, you could pick up the pace.

8. Find routes with minimal traffic.

It may lengthen your commute some, but finding roads that aren't as busy might be worth your time. Check out any bike paths in the area to see if they would be a good choice.

9. Learn how to change a flat.

If you don't already know how to do it, learn how to change a flat tire.

10. Carry a cell phone and call for help if you have significant mechanical trouble.

If you have time to change a flat tire or deal with other mechanical issues on the way into work, fine. If you're pinched for time, call someone to give you a lift. There's a good chance you're on the road well before anyone else, so it's likely that a co-worker will come your way.

11. Take your clothes to work the day before you commute.

If you plan to change from cycling clothes to work clothes when you commute, bring your clothes to work the day before your ride.

12. Strategize your clean up time before work.

Some commuters will want a full shower before sitting next to coworkers. Or maybe it's the coworkers that want the commuter to have a shower? Either way, lucky commuters can shower at the office. If that's the case, use a chamois towel (popular among swimmers) to dry off, rather than lugging around a bath towel.

If you don't have a shower, you can use a wash cloth and soap in the restroom to give yourself a "spit bath". Some commuters will shower the night before the ride into work and not wash their hair at work; but they will at least clean off their body with a moist towelette.

13. Watch for parked car doors swinging open.

Be alert for cars parked on the side of the road. Take note if there are people in the car that might be getting ready to swing open the car door without looking for you coming from behind on a bike.

After you scheme up strategies to be successful on that first commute, you might find yourself wanting more. Even hard-core commuters started somewhere. The commuters I know, that bike to work regularly, do it because the personal rewards are so great.

Enjoy your ride!

In the Know

What's Cool
  • One pant cuff rolled (hint: the right one)
  • Racks or panniers to carry commuting essentials
  • Bike commuting for any portion of your trip to work, even if it's riding to a public transportation hub
  • Recruiting a friend to ride with you
  • Bike commuting in less-than-perfect weather conditions

What's Not
  • inside-out bike shorts hanging on your cubicle wall
  • Riding on sidewalks
  • Listening to music while you should be listening for potential hazards around you
  • Weaving in and out of stopped or slowly moving traffic
  • Darting across medians and riding against traffic

Active logoTake your riding to the next level. Sign up for a cycling event.

Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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