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Making Bike Commuting Work for You

by Jill Florio - Sweat Magazine

Save money and get fit. Cycling to work is the key. Actually, anyone can do it, said Steve Cooke, shipping and receiving manager of Supergo cycling retailer, Chandler. You really dont have to be super fit. You have to be realistic about biking in 30 miles, but if someone can do a nice, 10-mile ride at a steady pace, then they can definitely bike to work.

Cooke pointed out, “A lot of the buses have bike racks, so people can take the bus part of the way and bike the rest of it.”

Jones said he hopes folks will give it a try and discover how easy and enjoyable a bike commute can be.

John Cherry, wrench and sales staff at Flagstaff’s Absolute Bikes, said one of the first things to consider is the length of the trip. For a short cruise across town, add a couple of paired saddlebags, known as panniers, to your average road or mountain bike. For longer bike commutes, you need appropriate tires, with Cherry advising to stick to narrow slicks for road trips or a set of knobbies for off-road short-cuts.

Before you Ride
He added that equipment that is in good condition is a must for a safe and fun commute. Take a long look at your bike. If you havent been riding regularly, the tires might be flat. The chain could be rusted. The lube might have morphed into putty. Fix it up yourself or drop it off and let your local bike pros get it running right.

“As long as the bike is well maintained, you can use it,” said Cooke. “Wear the proper safety gear, too, like proper clothes for the weather, a helmet and maybe a reflective vest.”

Proper gear includes an approved biking helmet, a U-shaped lock, a hydropack or water bottle with cage, light rain jacket/windbreaker, something in which to haul stuff and a headlight. For the serious bike commuter, Cherry also recommends:

  • BOB Trailer - Great for lugging groceries, library books and laundry runs. There are off-road models with full-suspension.
  • Laptop Bag - Jandd makes a bag that clips on to your rack, with a waterproof cover.
  • Courier Bag - Wear one of Timbuktu’s colorful, sturdy bike bags or try Overland's backpack with a compartment for a laptop and business styling.
  • A Good Bike Light - Not only it is the law in some cities, it is common sense to have a good light on your bike or head.
  • Warm bike gloves, warm bike socks and a fleece pullover.
  • Fenders - Prevent rain and mud from flying up on your back.
  • Studded Tires - Consider them if you are commuting in ice and snow.
Bike commuters offered some basic tips to make the commute an easier deal. If there's isn't a shower at work, clean up with babywipes. They pack well in a Ziplock and smell good. Also, pack your work clothes for long, sweaty commutes and change at the office. Make sure to select wrinkle-resistant attire and leave enough slush time for transforming from carefree athlete to serious worker bee.

Cherry also suggests wearing a light windbreaker or rain jacket over your work clothes for short commutes. Even a $20 plastic pullover will do the trick and some riders even wear trash bags over their clothes. Just pull it off and you’re clean and ready to go. Pant leg protectors keep dirty chains off your suit or stockings or you can invest in an add-on chain guard.

If you can't bring your beast inside the premises, make sure you have a heavy-duty lock. Buy a super lock and leave it at work. According to Cherry, a U-Lock beats a cable. He recommended pulling off the front wheel and slinging the lock through it and the frame, firmly clamping everything to a solid bike rack or post or tree.

If you need a reason to trade in the car for your bike, Cherry offered this, “Since I moved to Flagstaff a couple of years ago, I went down from 210 pounds to 170 pounds. I’m in better shape at 35 than I was at 18. This is just from commuting.”


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