Sep 032011

Picture of woman preparing to chew all her fingernails, with words "confessions of a worry wart"So you’re thinking about starting to bike commute. What do you look forward to? What do you fear? What questions do you need to have answered to feel comfortable and reasonably safe?

Typical thoughts/questions:

  • How do I pick a safe route?
  • What do I wear?
  • What do I do about sweat?
  • My helmet hair will look terrible.
  • How do I carry the things I need for work?
  • Where do I put the bike when I get to work?
  • What if I get a flat tire?
  • What is that funny sound my bike is making?
  • What were those hand signals again? (And how do I signal without wobbling?)
  • Going downhill fast is scary.
  • Going uphill is hard work.
  • Bike shops intimidate me. All that guy gear/technology/Spandex and I don’t like being treated like I don’t know what I’m talking about just because I don’t know what I’m talking about.

You don’t have to answer these all today, although with Google at your fingertips you can certainly dive in. This is a day of mental preparation as you get ready to try bike commuting. Or maybe you’ve already started commuting and you’re running into some of these questions.

When you’ve thought of all the problems, go back and read Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride. Picture the way riding your bike can make you feel. Free and strong, thrifty and virtuous, happy-happy-happy. That’s you on your bike.

We’re not ignoring these questions you’re worrying about. We’re just going to take them one at a time with the end in mind.

Realistically, every rider eventually encounters a day that isn’t 100% perfection. In roughly 7 years of bike commuting I’ve had more than one flat tire, that’s for sure, and I’ve fallen down more than once too. But I think new commuters tend to magnify the potential problems of bike commuting because they’re unknown and unfamiliar.

We’ll build some familiarity for you through these posts. There’s nothing quite like getting out there and doing it, though.

So–hey, wait a minute! It’s Saturday! Maybe you could, oh, I don’t know, go for a bike ride today. Less traffic than on weekdays, you can avoid busier times and streets and tootle around your neighborhood a bit, remember the way riding your bike made you feel as a kid.

Go on, give it a try. We’ll wait.


Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • What are you afraid of?
  • Where did you ride today?
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Reader Comments

  1. Great list! I think I have about 3/4 of these answered for myself. Still working on some. The big hill on the way home is my biggest challenge but its also an exciting fitness goal for me. Sweat, cargo, safety, etc are still works in progress. In Philadelphia, we’ve had some scary incidents with “flash mobs” on the city bike path (punching and throwing rocks at cyclists). I also got my first flat tire last week and had to be rescued! Next lesson is learning how to fix a flat on my own (and getting a kit to take with me!)

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