May 31, 2016
For the days leading up to Bike to Work Day I decided to trade my car keys for a Healthy Ride Membership Card. I really wanted to commit to commuting for a whole week, but also my car’s exhaust is hanging on by a thread (or in this case a wire hanger).
Here are 6 practical tips and important lessons I learned during my commuter week:
- Love Your Gears.
Shift gears before you stand up to pedal and before hills. Otherwise, you’ll put too much pressure on the gears/pedals and the chain could pop off. You don’t want to lose cool points for having to walk your bike to the nearest station.
- Bike with Co-workers.
Bike to lunch, meetings or a happy hour with the folks you spend eight hours a day with. Your productivity, your work relationships, and your thigh muscles will thank you.
- Fuel Up.
Eat healthy food. Drink lots of water. Fuel your body just like you fuel your car, but ya know, with fruit and granola and stuff. Remember your metabolism is going to start much earlier in the day if you’re biking at 7am.
You may be sweating bullets but your heartbeat WILL return to normal, your body WILL cool down and your sweat WILL dry. You can use some baby wipes and deodorant as a mini-shower to expedite the process. Still worried about being smelly or sweaty? Bring a change of clothes.
- Grab a Towel.
A towel is not only extremely useful for interstellar travelers, but for bike commuters too. You’ll need something to dry off your seat, wipe your brow and blow your nose, because yes, your nose will drip from cold air and exercise.
- Find a Community!
My favorite part of this entire week was joining BikePGH’s pop-up commuter cafe. I met tons of friendly bikers, bike industry folks and even Public Allies staff and alumni. Healthy Ride got me into biking, but it’s the bike community that will make me stay.
I finally understand what drives people to commute. Yeah, you get some bangin’ calf muscles and you get all kinds of bragging rights, but there’s something more to it. Biking made me feel more connected to Pittsburgh, my coworkers, and my own neighborhood. I walked into work each day feeling like I already accomplished something, which only motivated me to accomplish more!