Buy a good bike – Most people make the mistake of picking a crappy first bike, with the intention to get a better one once they are more serious. This is one of the reasons why most people give up too soon. Issues with the bike, bad gear shifting and heavy bikes don’t cut it and are a bad way to start something good. The reason bikers are ready to jump onto their bikes is because they enjoy the experience. Spend the money and pick up a good bicycle. Even if you don’t get around to using it, there will be some kids in the family who will. A bicycle is never a ‘waste’.
Where to buy – its best to pick up a bike from a bike store manned by bikers. Its not rocket science, but there are a few things to be aware of when fitting a bike to a customer which makes all the difference, translates to a more comfortable, efficient and enjoyable ride.
Relearn to bike – If you’re getting back to biking after a long period of time, first spend time getting used to it. Rediscover the enjoyable memories from your childhood, it can be a lot of fun. Understand what it is about – things like bike fit, cadence, gear shifts etc. Get started by doing small rides just to the grocery store in your neighbourhood or to a friend’s place nearby.
Route – When considering your route, don’t think like a motorist. Think like a cyclist. Pick the most pleasant route. The shortest route might not be the best route on the cycle. Narrow, shady semi tarred roads are some of the best roads to take your bike on due to the lack of traffic. Try GoogleMaps to find a good route. Have a dry run over a weekend and get a feel for the route.
Safety on road – Be assertive. You have the same right to the road as an automobile. Many people are scared to ride a bicycle, but its not as bad as you imagine.
You can further minimize the risk from motorists by doing a few obvious things:
- Visibility – make yourself as visible as possible. Wear bright clothing during the day and use reflectors and lights during the night.
- Predictability – don’t behave like a motorist and ride in the middle lane. Stick to the left, close to the footpath and you should be fine. Maintain a steady line so that you don’t confuse traffic behind you.
- Hand signals – use em to indicate a turn.
Attire – make a difference to your commute.
- Helmets – We all have only have one head. 80% of deaths and serious injuries could be prevented by wearing a helmet. Your first accessory should be a helmet. Modern helmets are light, well-ventilated, and look cool.
- Gloves – if you ride a lot, wearing gloves could prevent numb hands and hard callouses from forming.
- Cycling glasses – prevents dust from entering your eyes.
- Lights – LED lamps are available in the market. They last long and are decently bright.
- Bike specific Tool kit – finding puncture repair shops is not too difficult in India. Better yet would be to equip yourself with tools and the know how to fix a puncture. Its fast and simple.
- Pollution Mask – effective pollution masks are available in the market if pollution is a problem.
Cleanup – you can avoid sweating profusely by riding slowly or wearing appropriate clothing. A shower once you reach the destination would be idea. If not, you can use a damp cloth in the wash room and have a quick sponge bath. Warm water is more effective than cold. Deodorants are a good idea. You really don’t want to give all cyclists a bad name by stinking through the day. It helps to carry a change of clothes. Its more comfortable to ride in a pair of shorts and change into your office clothing after freshening up.
Security – You’ve got your bike, selected a route and are all set to go. But where do you leave your bike once you get to work? Bicycle parking is not given a second thought in India. Its sad cause one automobile space could be converted to create parking for 10-12 bicycles. Commuting to work on a bicycle is slowly catching on. Talk about it and convince other to do the same and push for amenities at work. Its a win-win situation for everyone.
Whilst parking a bicycle make sure you park it in a location which is visible to the security and make sure you secure the frame to an immovable object. Although various locks are available there are no fool proof ways of securing a bike. Concentrate on making your bike more difficult to steal instead.
Maintenance – keeping the bike clean, maintaining tire pressure etc keep the bike as good as it was when you bought it and make your commute easier.
Riding in the rain – Riding a bike in the rain is actually a lot of fun. The worst part of cycling in the rain is that your bike gets mucked up and thats fixed easily by washing it down once you reach home. Fenders (mud guards) help keeping the muck on the road off your clothes. Your stopping capacity is diminished in the rain, hence you might have to ride a little carefully. If you’re properly outfitted, riding in the rain isn’t a terrible ordeal.
Beyond commuting –
- Dig out local bike forums and join them. There will definitely be suggestions on how you can make your commute better. Maybe even find yourself a buddy to commute with.
- Expect sore muscles when you first start bike commuting. Eventually you’ll gain strength, improve your balance, enhance your breathing, lower your blood pressure, reduce your resting pulse rate, sleep better, and on and on. In short, your fitness will improve, simply by commuting to and from work everyday on a bicycle.
- After biking to work every day, weekend rides will be something you will look forward too. Off roading and long distance biking offer different pleasures from a daily commute.
- Another important step is advocacy. You’ve embraced a better, healthier, more affordable, and more environmentally sensitive method of travel. Talk about it and make it easier for others to make the same choice.
Other bike commuting Links
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I love riding my bike. Whether it’s a simple commute, a high-intensity road race, a jaw-grinding brevet, fixie rides thru packed Indian city or a kick-ass technical single track – I love it all. Apart from riding bicycles, I love being all geeky and know everything there is to know about bicycles, technology, bike fit, and service.
I started BUMSONTHESADDLE to share this passion for cycling.
DISCIPLINE: Partial towards MOUNTAIN BIKING but love it all
CURRENT BIKE(S): Specialized Rockhopper, Specialized Tarmac, Pure Cycles Original
DREAM BIKE: S-Works Epic HT & S-Work Roubaix
OTHER PASSIONS: Technology, Photography, Baking, Travel, and Reading