12 Tips to Simplify Your Bike Commute

Commuting to work by bike doesn't have to be a pain in the rear end. With a few simple tips, you can begin biking to work hassle-free—and have fun doing it.

Use these 12 pieces of advice to get started.

1. Scout out a safe route before your first commute. If you ask most people why they don't commute by bike, fear of an accident will be the number one answer. The truth is, your route makes a big difference. Drive a few different routes before the first commute. Local side streets off the main road are sometimes your safest option.

More: 6 Ways to Solve Bike-Commuting Roadblocks

2. Lay out your cycling gear the night before. Planning and preparing ahead of time will make things less stressful and keep you from having to wake up even earlier to get ready to ride your bike. Laying your gear out the night before will also keep you from forgetting something you might need. If you ride in the dark, make sure your clothing has reflective strips for visibility.

3. Invest in decent lights. A good light on the front and rear of your bike will go a long way toward keeping you safe and visible to motorists on the road. Make sure to charge your lights the day before so you don't run out of power in the middle of your ride.

4. Keep a stash of breakfast food at work. Eating breakfast before the commute wastes a lot of time, and carrying your breakfast and lunch with you can make a backpack heavy. Keep a stash at work to keep your load light and replenish your energy stores for the ride home.

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5. Keep a change of clothes at the office. If you don't commute everyday, take a change of clothes with you the day before your commute. This way you won't have to carry work clothes in your backpack, which increases your weight and leaves less room for other essentials.

6. Set a reasonable goal. Start off by commuting to work once per week. Once you get the hang of things and increase your comfort level, slowly up your days from there—just be sure to keep your goals realistic.

7. Keep a rain jacket at work. You never know when the weather will change, and you don't want your ride home to be a disaster. The right gear, even in bad weather, will help you enjoy your ride.

More: 10 Tips From Hard-Core Bike Commuters

8. Keep a bag with the essentials at work. If you have shower facilities you might be able to keep your toiletries in a locker. If not, stash a gym bag at your desk that includes soap, deodorant, body lotion, a towel or washcloth, a comb, brush and hair dryer if needed.

9. No shower, no problem. If you don't have a shower at work you can take a "bird bath" using the sink and a washcloth. You can also use baby wipes or athletic towelettes that do the job well.

10. Make sure your bike is in good working order. Make certain your bike has had a recent tune-up and is in good working order. You want to minimize any chances of a mechanical breakdown on your way to work, which will cost you time and cause stress.

11. Minimize clothing costs by using layers. It's no secret that cycling clothes are expensive. Instead of buying expensive jackets when it's cold, buy versatile items that you can layer and use in multiple seasons.

12. Give yourself extra time. Sometimes you won't feel like hammering all the way to work. Leave yourself wiggle room to ride slow and enjoy your morning commute. You'll have more fun and ride more often if you aren't stressed about hurrying to the office.

More: 6 Bike Commuter Horror Stories

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