5.18.2010

off the top of my head... TEN QUICK TIPS TO THE FIRST TIME BICYCLE COMMUTER

off the top of my head...
real quick... just off the top of my head
in the name of BIKE MONTH I am throwing this together

TEN QUICK TIPS TO THE FIRST TIME BICYCLE COMMUTER


1. make sure that your bicycle is road worthy
check the tires
check the brakes
make sure the wheels rotate
throw some lube on the chain
have someone who knows about bikes take a glance at your bike... it does not have to be a bike shop... but someone who knows more about bicycles than you do

2. do a dry run from home to office on a weekend day
know how long it takes to ride your bike to work before the first day that you try to ride your bike to work
then... on your first bicycle commute into work allow for extra time

do not time it so you get to work at the time you need to get to work
factor in time for locking your bike, cleaning up, and maybe changing your clothes

the first two weeks may be tiring... but give it time
the bicycle commute of 7-9 miles can easily become your baseline
if a one or two mile bicycle commute fatigues you... then you were over due for some exercise
try to extend your post work ride to get in better shape

3. fuel up before you leave the house... coffee is your friend
the bike ride will wake you up
but you will want to be awake on your bike ride
start the day with some sort of food... I would say a minimum of coffee and a banana
just like a car... your body needs fuel to go the distance

4. wear a helmet...
I could have said that sooner... but I am saying it now... wear a helmet
it is dangerous out there
I know... I know... your hair
but what about your brain?

5. if you sweat... either dress in clothing other than what you will work that day or bring some Gold Bond...
if your distance is short... try to roll at a pace that does not elicit sweat
personally I bring a change of clothes
do what works for you
it may depend on the distance, duration, and intensity of your commute
a shower at work is a wonderful way to start the day

don't be that stinky guy at work... that said... it is European to ride a bike... it is also European to have a natural essence

6. have lights on your bike... lights to see and lights to be seen... I know... you do not plan to be out that late... but if you are... you will want lights
keep the lights on your bike or helmet
just as lights are not removed from your car when you are not using them
lights should remain on your bike so that they are there when you need them

LIGHTS=LIFE
GET A LIFE!

reflectors are better than the alleged "bright clothing"
but lights are really what you need when it is dark outside

7. ride defensively... be careful

as your old coach used to tell ya... sometimes the best defense is a strong offense... or something like that
understand... SUBMISSIVE CYCLING ENABLES AGGRESSIVE DRIVING
it is a balance
ride smart

put yourself where you are most safe... avoid danger... avoid the "worst case scenario"
don't become a hood ornament!

8. expect the unexpected

as said... put yourself where you are most safe
do not ride in "the door zone"
try to only ride on the sidewalk if you
"must" or if it is the block where your office is
do not emulate the scoff law messenger
ride your own game
again... ride smart

learn the oddities of the road... watch not only the turn signals on the car but the car driver's had postition on the steering wheel
when passing a line of parked cars watch for occupied cars... anticipate what cars just parked and are going to have a driver opening the car door... be alert to what cars are trying to pull out of that space
watch for U-Turning vehicles

let me make this more simple... WATCH OUT FOR CARS... THEY DO NOT SEE YOU!
ride as if the car driver can not see you

9. ride within your limits
know your limits
don't try to out run that car if you do not know what your acceleration or braking response time is
this is real life... this is not a game
did I mention... ride smart

you are not SUPERMAN trying to race the train
you are someone trying to get to work on your bike


10. Exhibit Common Sense and Common Courtesy
sharpen your elbows and hold your ground
but also share the space... it is a balance
if it is logical to ride to the right and allow cars to pass... do so
if cars are passing too close and too fast... take the whole lane

know when to do what
what does that mean?
you will learn over time

anticipate the actions of others
not just the cars but also the other cyclists and pedestrians
do not "buzz the tower"
give the pedestrians some space
a friendly audible warning can be helpful

those are just a few tips off the top of my head...
I think I have a thousand more

3 comments:

John Garrish said...

I still use your advice from 1989. Don't watch the lights, watch the cars.

danaceau said...

One more. Bring some fuel for after the ride. Power bar or something similar. Especially if it's cold. Body uses more energy in the cold to keep warm.

roaldrhody said...

to continue with the watching cars theme, when the cross light says walk, watch out for cars turning tight, they do not look at anything but the cars...that has almost got me a few times where I had to actually smack the car before they hit me (luckily they did pull out slowly)