It’s no secret that BCC is the best blog in the universe, hands down, and I’m including this site as part of the sample. But now the “awesomeness gap” threatens to widen even further, and we take up the gauntlet of a Bike Commuting Challenge (thanks to mfranti and dan ellsworth). Here’s the gist: ride your bike or use a combination of public transit and bike to get to work/school/grandmas at least one day a week. Ride Your Bike to Work Month was last month, I think, which means that we’re right on target in terms of Mormon Standard Time. Riding your bike is cheaper, more environmentally friendly, causes less traffic congestion and makes you into a lean, mean Mormon machine.
Now for some friendly commuting tips.
-Shower! With soap!
-Obey traffic laws
-Wear a shirt that says, “I am reducing your carbon footprint, buddy”
-Get some clipless pedals. It will greatly increase your pedaling efficiency, assuming you don’t consistently fall over at intersections
-Shop on Craigslist for your bike. There’s little reason to buy a brand new bike these days, no matter what your skill level. But if you are going to buy a brand new bike, don’t forget to give your business to a local wheelsmith and not some megacorporation who won’t know anything about bikes or how to fit you
-Get fitted. Proper seat adjustment and bike fitting will make your ride more comfortable and efficient
-Train. Work your way up to a level of fitness before pushing yourself to ride that 50 miler. PS – you’re going to be saddle sore for about the first week or so of biking, nothing to do about that. It will pass (but if it doesn’t, see the prior tip)
-Get a beater bike. I have two bikes: one is like Maximilian from The Black Hole and the other is like Bob. Bob was an old MTB with good components, to which I added some slick tires, fenders and clipless pedals. On the average commute, Bob can almost keep up with Maximilian. Here’s a photo of Maximilian, worship him. I have taken none of Bob.
-Combine biking with other transit. If you live too far to bike the whole way, bike to a convenient commuter bus, and put the bike on the rack on front. It’s called “intermodal commuting” and will make you a rock star.
-Ride in the rain. If you have the right gear (a jacket, pants and some no-slip gloves) then riding in the rain is not as unbearable as it sounds. People will look on you with awe.
-Get advice. Ask another commuter about more tips, or look on the Interweb.
-Blow a ton of money right away. Figure out what kind of riding you enjoy most and what kind of rider you’re likely to be.
-Wear a rearview mirror on your helmet. Just…. don’t.
-Expect that everyone loves to see more cyclists out there. Sooner or later you will face vehicular aggression. Practice defensive cycling and always carry a cell phone with you to call 911 and document troublemakers.
-Try to race other commuters. Most of them don’t know you’re trying to beat them.
-Talk on your cell phone or listen to your ipod while cycling. I know it’s tempting, but it makes you a pathetic road hazard. Talking while riding is at least as dangerous as talking while driving a car, except that if you smack into something on your bike IT WILL HURT YOU A LOT.
-Overdo it. Stretch out a lot, take your time. Cycling is deceptively difficult — you won’t get immediately tired or winded like with running or other sports, but you will definitely feel it if you don’t pace yourself.
-Quit. Keep it up!