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Free-Wheeling Commute

By Lavender September 11, 2008

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So, you’ve started noticing more and more of your coworkers arriving at work on two wheels. As if through-the-roof gas prices weren’t enough to make you want to throw your car in a compactor, watching your coworkers waltz in, helmet in hand, and extra cash in their pockets, perhaps has tipped the scales. You think it’s finally time to break out your bike, and see what the latest sustainable trend is all about.

For some, that may be quite easy. For others, however, getting their two-wheel commute on is a switch that may come with concerns: dangerous traffic, unpredictable weather, costly bike repairs, and questioning whether they’re even capable of making such a trip.

Despite the slew of troubles a biker may run into, though, the benefits of revving up your kickstand instead of your engine very well may put your mind at ease.


Attire: What Not To Wear

Considering that your average bike wear may not be well-suited to life in the office, people biking to work must take into account their attire before and after leaving work.

For those who don’t feel like packing an extra set of clothes, wearing office gear may be a possibility. Black or dark-colored pants will hide any dirt accrued from your bike ride. If you’re worried about the wear and tear on your pants from constant bike riding, put on a pair of loose-fitting shorts over your pants. Also, wear a loose-fitting shirt to allow a flow of air, and to help reduce sweating. For safety reasons, tuck your pants cuffs into your socks to prevent them from catching in the bike’s chain and gears.

If you’re still not comfortable wearing your work clothes during the ride, throw on some comfortable clothes, put your office attire in a bag, and take it along. Make sure to

fold and roll those items of clothing to prevent wrinkling. If you have storage space at your job, bring enough clothes for a week’s worth of work, changing when you arrive, and bringing your clothes home at the end of the week to wash or dry-clean them.


Weather: Biking in the Rain

Common sense dictates to check the weather in the morning before leaving for work, but it also cautions that weather forecasts have a tendency to be wrong. So, as they say, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. Bring along a raincoat, and store it at your office. Be sure to invest in bike fenders, which prevent rain splash from soaking your dry ride.

Traffic: Ways To Get Around
Regardless of your mode of transportation, the rules remain relatively the same for anyone sharing the road. But even after mastering the art of indicating your turn direction with your limbs, it still will take time to adjust and feel comfortable dealing with the pressures of the road while no longer being surrounded by four walls of metal. Several reliable Internet sites, such as biketraffic.org, are available to help newly turned biking commuters learn and cope with their new biking environment.

Fitness Factor: Will Power
Biking all the way to work simply may be out of the question for some, as a three-hour journey or 40-mile commute may put the kibosh on biking dreams.

But there are ways around even those seemingly insurmountable obstacles. If you live a good distance from your work, even so, you may live reasonably close to a rail line or bus route. Bike to your nearest public transportation line, take a break, and let them do the rest.

Still think your commute would take too long? Well, those fears may be unfounded, as, according to biketraffic.org, “The average bike commuter travels 10 mph in traffic. In urban areas, cycling generally takes less time than driving for trips of three miles or less—and about the same time for three to five mile trips. On longer trips, you might still save time if you combine exercise with commuting.”

Don’t let the distance or time it would take to bike to your job deter you. Don’t allow yourself to use either of those as excuses to avoid not only getting in shape, but also staying in shape, and saving money while doing so.

Costs: Money, Money, Money
If you already have a bike, chances are it’s in good enough shape for a regular commute, but if not, minimal repairs may need to be done. Some advice: If possible, wait until wintertime to bring your bike in for repair, because the bike shops aren’t as busy then, and prices may not be as high.

If you don’t have a bike waiting to be ridden, the initial cost of purchasing a bike, protective gear, and lock may set you back anywhere from $200 to sky’s-the-limit (for those with an extreme passion to ride). Yet, a reasonable initial purchase amount soon would be offset by the amount of gas you will save.

The switch from four wheels to two may be difficult, but a minimal amount of research and a relatively small initial investment will have you on your way in no time. Now, grab your helmet, and let’s ride!

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