I’ve already discussed the beauty of bike commuting and the benefits one can get from doing it. There are several things about it, which I haven’t brought up in my first article that even seasoned cyclists forget to mention to novice bikers. Here are other stuff about commuting on two wheels to work that you will only learn once you start pedaling and are essential to successful bike commuting.
Figure out if your workplace has bike parking.
Say you safely arrived at your workplace, you are feeling accomplished, and all that. Now, where do you park or store your bike? Some buildings allow its folding bike occupants like me to bring their bikes into the actual work area. What if you’re using a mountain bike? So, the first order of business, make sure you know where to park or store your bike. And please use a sturdy U-lock, the heavy-duty type to protect your bike from thieves.
Get used to sweating.
As we all know, the dry season in Manila can get really annoying (and sometimes deadly) especially during the months of March to May when you just need to breathe to sweat. What more if you are pedaling from Fairview to Makati? So, yes. You will sweat and even stink. And showers are a blessing for those who do bike commuting.
If you are unlucky and your office does not have a shower or locker area, here are the things you can do:
- Pack your work clothes in a clean ziplock.
- In a separate ziplock, pack a clean towel (or wipes if you use one) and antiperspirant.
- In another ziplock, pack the clothes you will wear on your ride home. Kung hindi ka maselan, you can skip this and use the ones you wore on your way to work. Just make sure that they are adequately ventilated or dried while you are working, so you don’t feel icky when you wear them again.
- Wear Dri-Fit or clothes made with smart fibers. If possible, wear the bright ones that will make yourself visible on the road.
- Get to work early so you can have a “cool down” period before you wipe your armpits, crotch, and whatever have you using your packed towel (or wipes) then change into your work clothes.
Be ready for the rainy days.
Bike commuting during the wet season is not all fun and, I can only suggest the following:
- Invest in waterproofed clothing, shoes, and bag (if you are using one).
- Wait out the rain before you start pedaling to work.
- If waiting until the rain stops is not an option, be a hundred times careful. Roads are slippery when wet, and you will be more prone to accidents.
- Use another type of transportation. There will be times that using your bike to work will cause you much trouble than using public transportation.
Learn the traffic rules and hand signals.
I’ve mentioned in my other bike commuting article that traffic rules apply to everyone regardless of the vehicle you are using. You can’t just leave home happily riding your bike without knowing the traffic rules, even the basic ones. It’s for your safety. It’s better to attend a seminar or seek a pro driver’s help if you have the faintest idea of what the traffic rules are. There are also hand signals you must learn to help you keep safe while on the road. Practice them when needed.
Your bike will fail, eventually.
Your bike is subject to wear and tear, and you will eventually experience problems with it. When this happens, you have two options: fix your bike on your own or have someone do it for you. If you know how to fix it, you should always be prepared with your tools. If you don’t, plan how you can bring your bike home or to a bike shop that will repair it.
Be ready for the other rainy days.
A broken bike or an accident (I pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that you don’t meet one) often means shelling out money. So, yes, like any other vehicle owner, you should have emergency funds ready.
Watch out for car doors swinging open.
We have to be realistic. The Philippines is nowhere near to becoming a bike-friendly country, most notably in Metro Manila. Bikers often resort to using the sidewalk when bike lanes aren’t available. Even with this, bikers are not safe to car doors suddenly swinging open. I was a victim of this, and I luckily only had minor bruises. The experience was more of a hassle than a learning one because of the expenses, documentation, and conversations I underwent.
No listening to music while riding.
You can say this is a bummer, but, again, this is for your safety. We also practice it when hiking. Not listening to music using your earphone helps you to be focused on the road and be more aware of what’s going on with your surrounding. You can’t hear a car crashing and loudly honking from your behind or someone yelling at you because you are about to hit something if you have your earphones on.
If possible, always be happy.
We’ve all seen how road rages end up, and we’d always want to stay away from it. When biking, think of how it helps you to keep in shape, how you save money by not spending on diesel, how you help lessen carbon footprint and pollution, how you help in social distancing, and all the beauty of bike commuting.
I may have missed several other “secrets”, and I’d like to hear about them. Please leave a comment or message us.
Happy biking, everyone! Ingat!