Riding is an everyday thing- This is my motto. My bike isn’t just something I race. That came later in my cycling career. My bike is my transport, my freedom, a way to socialise, a fashion statement. I have been riding my bike for transport for as long as I’ve had a job; just over half my life. In that time I recon I have covered the circumference of the world 4 maybe 5 times. I’m just about to tick another one on strava (it’s been about 2.5years since I joined)
As commuting is such a big part of my life, and training/racing is fairly boring right now, I shall present you with a few tidbits (mmmm Tim Bits, I’ll talk more about food another time) of knowledge.
Thank you wave- Bring back the lost art of the thank you wave. And I mean the genuine one, not flipping the bird (although that has a time and place). If a driver stops for you at an intersection, wave. If a driver sits behind you at a pinch point, then passes you safely, wave. If a bus waits behind you in a bus lane instead of cutting you off at a stop, wave. Acknowledge all forms of friendly driving (especially in moments where bikes can be seen as annoying). It will make both you and the driver feel all warm and fuzzy.
Take the trails- Roads suck. Traffic sucks, and I don’t want to get to work pre-stressed. Where I live I have a bike superhighway, the cooks river going west and Bourke St going into the city. Both are a little longer to get where I’m going, but along the way I get great views, I can doddle, and I don’t have to worry about cars. The down side is dealing with wayward pedestrians/dogs off leashes/ kids chasing balls. There is a simple solution, have a bell, and slow down a little.
Not a race- But Strava you say. Strava is fun. Target segments on a targeted ride, but if you want to race, join a club and slap on a number at any of the weekly crit races. There is no use having all those online trophies and not be able to back it with proper racing.
Stop and smell the roses/see the view/take a picture- I use my commute as a time to unwind. If I have a 30min ride I normally give myself 45 to account for detours. It keeps my ride stress free, and you see some amazing stuff.
Say hello- But it’s not compulsorily. We all know about the not too pro to say hello campaign. But if I waved at everyone on my commute that’s all I would do. Instead wave/smile/nod at the ones you see daily/weekly/regularly. It then becomes an acknowledge of comradely opposed to just a wave. Also don’t forget the pedestrians. I love saying hello to the old guy who fishes, and the group if ladies who walk backwards for 5km every morning. It’s great to interact.
Leave with plenty of time- flats happen, red lights sometimes hate you, that hill might seem a little taller, you might run into an old friend. Whatever the reason, sometimes your ride just takes a little longer. I normally give myself an extra 5-15min depending on the route, just incase.
Know the weather-and yes I mean train to be a meteorologist. You need to know everything so you can plan your cloths, route, and sometimes bail out options. There is nothing worse than commuting and being hit by rain you didn’t know was coming.
Spare undies- just incase. Leave them at work and in your commuter bag. There is nothing worse than wearing bibs/nothing all day.
Mix it up- take different routes into work. Maybe go a little longer, find an extra hill. I like finding dirt and doing a little fixie cross (cyclocross on my fixie, it’s stupid, but it makes me smile). Ride the city is a really good way to find new cycle friendly routes.
Too far to ride? Consider using multiple modes- recently I got a job in Penrith. I live at Tempe about 80ish km if I rode all the way to work. The train, I would have to go into the city, grab a connector, then head out west… Both ideas were sub-par. So I figured out ride 15km to a major station, then jump on an express train. Easy, it’s an hour and a half door to door including a ride, a coffee, reading time, and a shower. I bring my bike on the train. It’s always worth looking into multiple modes.
These are my pro tips for the commuter cup. A few I will go into more detail later in the blog. Commuting is such a big topic.