Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting Started Bike Commuting

Have the gas prices got you down? Ever thought of bike commuting? You are not alone if you have thought about it, but have not made the move of venturing out for the first time. Some people need some tips on how to get started and some need a little push. This is precisely what the BCC is all about! Hopefully we can get you started. Here are a few tips on setting a beginning pace, what to wear, and finding the right route:
  1. Start out easy: Don't be intimidated by stories of 25 mile bike commutes. Start out with a short 2 mile trip to the store or to a friend's to see how you feel on your bike. Set an easy goal of riding once a month or once a week to get started. If it rains on the day you have decided to venture out, re-schedule your ride for another day when you are more comfortable. Have someone more experienced ride with you your first time out if you are uncertain about riding in traffic (we have an event just for this near Earth Day called the Neighborhood Market Ride where experienced riders familiarize new bike commuters with riding in traffic, check out last year's).

  2. Don't get scared off by all of the gear: The spandex and neon colors can be a bit frightening for people trying to get into bike commuting. While you want to be safe and be seen, you do not have to go out and buy all new stuff. Try biking with something in your closet first and see how you do. Lots of people commute in their jeans. Try to keep your hands and your feet warm and dry, your core will warm up a bit when you get your heart rate up. If you have a particularly long ride, you might want to gear up a bit more, especially if rain is in the forecast. Gear is different for everyone. It all depends on what you are comfortable wearing. There are a few necessities however: ALWAYS wear a helmet, even if you are only riding a mile down the street. Make sure your shoe laces are tied if you are wearing regular sneakers, and you will want to roll up your pants or tie them with a Velcro strap on your right leg (the drive train side of your bike). Wear a brighter color to be seen and if you are riding at night or in heavy fog, always have a white headlight and a red taillight affixed to you or your bike. If you are riding in the rain, fenders will become your best friend. These pieces of plastic (or metal) are way underrated. They will also keep the morning dew on the roads from spraying on your clothing even when it is not raining.

  3. Finding your route: It is very important that you find a route that is accessible by bike for your commute. If you live on a busy street or normally drive your car on one to get to and from work/school/store, chances are good that there is an alternate way to get there that has less traffic. Look at a map and find a route that runs through a quiet neighborhood, or ride a little farther to use one of the local trail systems. Check out the Thurston County Bike Map to find streets with the most bike accommodations or to find the nearest trail to you. You can then map out a route for yourself and save it using Gmaps Pedometer. If you need help finding a route, send me an email and I will help you.

I will post in more detail about commuting tips and traffic etiquette, but for now, be safe and share the road!


Cindy said...

This map is handy, but not so helpful for people unfamiliar with the roads. For example, I am moving out to Mud Bay and would like to find a route to a state building in Tumwater. I see lots of roads, but it's really hard to tell which would work best.

It would be great if there were a spot for riders to list their routes for newbies like me!

ThurstonBCC said...

I agree that it would be great! We can ask here if there is anyone out there who rides that area that can share their route, please do. The Bike Map has color coded roads and if you click on "Show Legend" the legend will pop up and tell you which roads have bike routes and wide shoulders, and which ones to try and avoid. For now, if you'd like to email me your route with ending address, I can try and find a low traffic route for you.
Thanks for your comment! kt