The Ultimate Guide for Successful Commuting
Committing to commuting can be a daunting task for many people, especially if it is your first foray onto the roads. This guide has been created to set you up for the ultimate commuting experience from your first. We focus on the clothing, accessories and advice to make you as comfortable as possible from that first pedal.
Buy once buy right
As much as this applies to most aspects of life, it is extremely important when looking into equipment to use commuting. There is absolutely nothing worse than saving a bit of money on "waterproof" apparel than to find out in a storm that it isn't. On the flip side, buying a fully waterproof high-end jacket only to find that you overheat it and you rarely get caught in the rain.
It is important to know the time of day, terrain and weather conditions you will be riding in so you know what accessories you need. Being prepared for your ride is the best way to make it enjoyable. Read on for more information on how to do so.
Plan your route
As mentioned before, it is important to plan your route to your destination. Preparing the way on an app like Google Maps is fine and will often include the fastest way on main roads or take the bikeways off the main streets.
Most apps will give you an estimated time frame that it will take you to reach your destination. However, if you have never ridden the route, it will average how long it takes others to complete the journey.
Before your first commute to work, we recommend that you ride the route on the weekend. This allows you to learn the main landmarks along the way, the terrain you will be riding and how long it will take you. We advise adding 5-10 minutes on that time as the route might be busier on weekdays, and when carrying a full load, you may take a little extra time.
Prepare your bike
Now you know your commuting route like the back of your hand, you can prepare your bike for the first big commute.
Mudguards are highly advised for anyone who may be riding in the rain. Not only will they protect you from the dreaded skunks tail up your back but, they will prevent your bike from premature wear. Keeping mud and debris out of your drivetrain is one of the best forms of preventative maintenance.
As "dorky" as some riders may think, bells are extremely useful on packed paths. A good quality loud bell will make every commute safer and faster as people get out of the way (hopefully). Bells are also a legal requirement in some places so make sure you check your local laws.
Lights are not only important for riding at night, but they dramatically improve your visibility when travelling during the day. Bright flashing lights help distinguish you from other traffic on the road. When travelling down a busy road between cars, you want to be as visible as possible. Both front and rear lights will help cars see you, in turn, reduce the chances of vehicles pulling out in front of you.
Keeping your bike clean and lubricated will make every ride more enjoyable. Cleaning your bike can take less than an hour and save you a lot of money and hassle in the future. Clean bikes are easier to ride and will reduce the chance of grime getting on your clothes.
Prepare for flats
It doesn't matter how much you try to protect your bike against punctures. There is always a chance you will end up with a flat. There is nothing worse than finding yourself stranded on the side of a path while heading to work. Sure, you could get a taxi or an Uber, but that defeats the purpose of commuting.
Within 15 minutes, you can have the old tube out and a new one installed thanks to some basic tools. A saddlebag or parts strap with a tool kit, tyre levers, and tube are light and will save you from being late to work. We recommend always carrying a pump just in case you need to inflate a tyre with a slow leak. CO2 inflators are fast if you need to inflate a tyre from dead flat in no time but aren't ideal for small adjustments.
Be bright and Weatherproof
Weatherproof clothing is a must, as we mentioned above. However, it is not the only part of being weatherproof. The sun and heat can play a major role in determining whether your ride will be enjoyable.
Lightweight sun sleeves or a breathable long sleeve jersey will protect you from the elements. You don't want to be overheating and arriving at work all sweaty or sunburnt. These lightweight weight clothing options protect you without needing all the greasy sunscreen.
In the transitional months, leg warmers and arm warmers are a game-changer. Similar to removable sleeves or pant legs. You can wear them on a cold morning to work and put them in your bag on your way home. It is even possible to roll down or remove the warmers on the ride to change your outfit on the ride. A transformable outfit that adapts to the conditions as you ride.
With a proper wet weather kit, you won't even notice it is raining on your ride. Good leg warmers or arm warmers can be fully waterproof while remaining breathable. If you know you will commit to using a jacket for the whole ride, they are perfect for protecting you against the elements. If you want to wear your work clothes to work but don't want to get filthy, over pants and a jacket will protect your clothes underneath them.
Now you have your route sorted, you are protected from the weather, and your bike is set; it is time to get commuting. Commuting five days a week is hard and takes a lot of energy. It is advisable to start small and build how much you commute each week.
Start by only commuting one day a week, let's say a Monday. Once you have committed for a few weeks and you know the commute back to front, you can build up from there. Commuting Mondays and Thursdays will leave a few days in between to recover if needed.
Add an extra day in every time you get comfortable with the commutes, and before you know it, you will commute every day. Doing it this way ensures consistency, and you won't get burnt out in the first race.
It isn't a race
The last thing to remember is that commuting is not a race. No matter how much people believe in the commuter cup, there is no need to try and win every time you commute. Sometimes it is just as good for your health to cruise to and from home. There is no better way to wake up than a gentle roll into work.
Now get out there and commute.