Riding your bike to work or school is one of the best ways to stay fit, save some money, and help keep the planet green all at the same time, but if you're new to cycling, you're going to make some rookie mistakes.
This article will help you AVOID those mistakes and help keep your ride fun and, more importantly, safe. So without further adieu, let's take a look at the top 7 most common mistakes bike commuters make and how to avoid them.
Let's get riding!
No tools for flats or roadside fixes
Touchwood, but would you believe I've never had a flat tire? That's right, but even I know it's only a matter of time before I look down and see my tire as flat as a tack. Although I've never had a flat tire and ride tubeless tires, I never leave home without the necessary tools, and neither should you.
The first thing that goes into my back pocket is a multi-tool and a spare tube. Other tools you will need are a tire lever, a small pump, and a puncture repair kit. NEVER leave home without these essential tools; they can help keep you safe and on time.
That's right, no racing; no matter how much you want to race the person next to you, it's always better to stay in your lane and pace yourself to work or school.
We all love to ride our bikes as fast as we can, but when you're commuting to work, it's the last thing you want to do; all you'll achieve is sweaty work clothes and sore legs. Remember, RESIST the urge to race, slow down and enjoy your bike commute.
Always wear appropriate clothing
If you're like most people, you probably work in an office and have a dress code that you need to adhere to; luckily, these days, most professional jobs are pretty relaxed, and some companies even allow denim jeans. But have you ever tried riding your bike more than 5 km in a pair of denim jeans?
I have, and let me tell you; it's not a fun experience. Investing in some lycra bike shorts with a designated chamois is your best bet, but you don't even have to take it that far. Even a pair of sports pants or shorts will do the trick. Basically, you want to AVOID the material rubbing on your skin, causing painful chafing.
Never hug the side of the road
Hugging the side of the road while commuting is a mistake you should AVOID at all costs. Firstly, riding or "hugging" the curb is a sure-fire way to end up with a flat tire, as most debris is swept to the curb; pedestrians are also much tougher to see too.
Car doors are the next hazard you need to watch out for. Then there are the cars that try to squeeze past you and end up "boxing" you in with nowhere to go; this is incredibly dangerous, and why hugging the curb as you ride is the BIGGEST mistake you can make.
Stay a safe distance away from the curb without riding too close to the center of the lane.
Take the safest route, not the fastest
If you're new to bike commuting, riding on busy roads can be daunting, but the good thing is that with technology like google maps, it's easy to find safe and alternative routes to work or school.
Of course, you'll need to have your iPhone with you and, more importantly, connected to an iPhone compatible charging case to ensure you never run out of battery; the last thing you want on the way to work. A charging case guarantees you can keep your iPhone battery topped up and relieves the stress of worrying about your battery running out and a well made handlebar mount will help secure your phone to your handlebars.
Finding alternative routes can make your bike commute much safer, and who knows, you might find a new coffee shop to stop at and fuel up with a nice espresso and a sneaky chocolate croissant.
Riding to work in the winter months or the rainy season can get messy, which is precisely why you NEVER want to forget your mudguards.
If you're wearing dedicated cycling gear and then changing into your work wear, it might not be a problem, but having a set of mudguards is a lifesaver if you are riding in your work gear.
Never forget your work clothes
Forgetting your work clothes or a change of wear is every bike commuter's worst nightmare. One of the first things you can do to AVOID this is to keep some spare clothes and an extra pair of shoes in your office locker.
Packing the night before is another good way to ensure you don't forget a change of clothes. Forgetting your underwear can be a tough one, but, in all honesty, it's not as bad as people think; just a tad uncomfortable.
That’s a wrap
Riding and commuting to work on your bike can be a great way to stay fit, enjoy the outdoors, and meet new friends, but as you've seen from the list above, there are some mistakes you need to AVOID at all costs.
Many experienced commuters like myself have made these mistakes before, some more than once, but even so, it never put me off commuting to work on my bike; that's just how much I love riding a bike.