Maybe it's all those years of new teachers and new class rooms. September is one of those natural times to start something new. You’ve thought about it, the weather is still good: carry your riding season over by commuting to work.
Check your routeRiding to work may be a noble goal but even for a seasoned weekend warrior it will require some changes. When deciding to make a go of it check out your route options.
- Is it an achievable distance in the time you have before and after work. Your go-to weekend routes may not work for the Monday to Friday commute - the traffic is much different.
- With work and life obligations, give yourself a bit of grace - you don’t need to commute every day.
- Start with two or three days a week and see if it works for you. You will feel better about rocking a few days than failing at five.
Pick your bike
You may want to consider a different bike for commuting. You want to find something that is more robust for weather and poor road conditions than a road bike. A good commuter bike has the ability to take tires for different conditions (rain, snow, gravel) and fit fenders. A good all-round choice for most riders is a hybrid bike. The flat bar will give stability on the road and more visibility. Likewise its wider tires stand up to potholes and other road hazards. Most come with rim brakes but if you are commuting in wet conditions spend the extra money on disc brakes which are more powerful and reliable.
Choose your gear wisely. Preparing up front can keep you on the road through all four seasons. Here in Canada, that means being ready to deal with changing light conditions. The Garmin Varia Smart Lights Lights are a pretty cool gadget that pairs with your Garmin Edge computer. They create safer riding by adjusting to changing conditions. As speed increases, the headlight automatically projects light farther ahead to where it’s needed most. As ambient light fades or gets brighter, both the headlight and tail light adjust automatically when paired with a light-sensing Edge bike computer. It even has beam cutoff to prevent the headlight from blinding oncoming drivers. Perhaps most important after the bike and helmet is a good lock. Some offices have secure bike storage, others do not. Either way, you don’t want your bike to be a target. If someone is fixed on getting your bike they will and long hours in far away storage gives them the time do it. Consider a couple of ideas: two cheaper locks with different mechanisms may baffle a thief more than a U-lock. There are great U-locks out there but they are heavy. To protect your investment head down to your local bike shop. They can discuss your needs and know the bike theft trends for your area. Picking the right backpack will keep you comfortable and get you on the road quickly. Look for a pack designed to distribute its weight. Choose something that fits all your gear, plus some space for quick grocery pick ups or errands. Look for an integrated rain cover so you don’t have an excuse not to ride. Some experience will tell you if you like to use water bottles or a hydration pack - look for a pack that can handle a water reservoir.
When commuting you need to be ready for just about anything - you have no choice but to get to work. Urban roads fall victim to routine maintenance. Gravel, potholes, cracks and breaks. Sometimes it seems bike routes are especially formidable, as if poor road conditions will keep drivers away and make room for cyclists. Always carry an extra tube and a pump. Lezynes are a great pocket-worthy option, small and powerful they pump faster due to their high pressure design. If you love technology the Lezyne Digital Pressure Drive is a slick little device with a built in pressure gauge and a lightweight design.
Commuting is also about being ready for the weather. The Sugoi RS Jacket combines lightweight breathable rain protection and folds away in to a tiny - really tiny - pocket that can stow under your seat, on your top tube or simply in a pocket.