So, you’ve been thinking about participating in National Bike To Work Day. You may have even registered with the Washington Area Bicycling Association. Good for you!
But there’s no reason to NOT ride to work even if you haven’t registered. But you’ll need to do several things before you head out to the bike trails Friday morning.
No. 1: Make sure your bike is rideable. Check your tires NOW and see if they will still hold air. Pump them up to the recommended pressure (on side of tire) and check back a bit later to see if the air pressure has dropped. Look for thorns or metal wires that may have worked into the tread. You really don’t want to have a flat on the way to or from work. Be sure to bring a spare tube, a compact hand-pump and a few CO2 cartridges and inflator nozzle. If you haven’t changed a flat in a while (or ever) practice before you head out.
No.2: Click through your gears a few times, make sure everything is hunky-dory. If shifting is balky, wipe a bit of lube on the cable and try again. Lube the chain lightly, as well.
No. 3: Check your personal gear: Helmet is an absolute must. Check fit before you head out. A loose or too-tight helmet can spoil your ride, not to mention failure to protect your brain. Gloves will help keep your hands clean and, even with a morning forecast in the low-60s, keep those digits warm.
No. 4: Be seen and heard. Is your bike bell dinging? Is your head-light and tail-light working? Check batteries and bring spares. Remember, your return trip could be at dusk or other low-light conditions.
No. 5: If you were thinking ahead, you already left a change of work clothes and personal toiletries to freshen your body when you get to work. You may not notice right away, but you might be perspiring for up to an hour after riding. You co-workers will notice. Think about taking a container of those baby wipes. You may be schvitzing for hours.
No. 6: Hydrate or get really, really thirsty. Make sure your water bottle isn’t full of fuzzy funk left from that bottle of Mango juice you put in it a month ago. Take an extra bottle filled with ice for the return trip home. Put it in the office fridge if you have one. Your mouth will appreciate it.
No. 7: Communicate. Make sure your cellphone is fully charged. The life you save may be someone else. You would want someone to make that 911 call for you.
No. 8: This is not a race. It is RIDE to work. With temperatures in the 80s, you don’t want to have a crash or arrive drenched in a pool of sweat. Enjoy the ride, smile at the other folks and arrive alive.
No. 9: Scout your ride path BEFORE you head out. Check out great local bike commuting tips and routes at FABB. Remember things look a lot different from behind a steering wheel than behind handlebars. Bring a lock to secure your bike. If it has a combination lock, write the code on a piece of paper in your dry wallet.
No. 10: Don’t forget your office shoes. I always kept a pair in my office desk just in case. If anyone notices, just tell them it is National Work in Your Socks Day.
OK, now get out there, have fun, be careful and congratulate yourself for doing a very cool thing.