Regardless of what is going on in my life, a bike ride makes a good day better and puts a challenging day in perspective.
I have been bike riding in some form for twenty years. About five years ago I was working full-time for a high paced Internist who specialized in palliative care and the job could be stressful. As well, my son was in elementary school and we had a busy household. I wanted to incorporate more exercise in my life, but I found that going to the gym did not give me the mental break away from the public that I needed.
Enter bike commuting, which enabled me to get my pre- and post-work yayas out while getting a workout. During the wintertime I would put my bike on the bus for the ride home. Nowadays I work from my home studio and ride around Gibsons with my bike trailer to do recycling, grocery shopping, business errands and hitting the farmers stall.
Tips for getting on your bike
Set attainable goals and TEST run!
Doing multiple test runs when I was not going to work gave me a chance to build my fitness and confidence without time constraints or pressure. I rode my mountain bike and found that it took me too long to get to work so I decided to invest in a good touring bike that could carry panniers and withstand rain. To offset the cost I let my car go, as my husband (then boyfriend) and I could share. It paid off and made my commute much more enjoyable. I was surprised by how long it took me to get everything ready for the office: clothes, lunch, kid, packing panniers and out the door plus allowing time to get ready at work.
Keep a survival kit at work.
Mine included a hair brush and elastics, deodorant, an aromatherapy body mist, baby wipes, office shoes, lip gloss, mascara, face cream. We did not have a shower but I had a private place to change.
Talk with your family and your employer.
Life is busy, for everyone. Talk with your family about your commuting dreams and let them know you will need their help to get out the door. Your children and partner will be inspired by your determination and new glow.
Tell your employer about your goals and ask them if there is a place where you can change, leave a bag and a safe place to store your bike. I think most employers are pretty good about this and you might even inspire co-workers to enter Bike to Work Week.
Own the hills!
When I first met my husband we would ride some pretty big hills. At that time I would have to criss-cross to make it up some. He pointed out that I was doing three times the work, I pointed out that I WAS doing it and you have to start somewhere. After that he was more supportive of the technique! Now I look forward to making it up a good hill.
Simple actions inspire.
At times when I was commuting I would question what the heck I was doing. Know that your actions are inspiring someone else. I did not know this until one day I stopped in at the IGA on the way home. It was windy and pouring rain. The cashier, a woman I had once met briefly said, “You know you are inspiring us women, don’t you?” That was really great to hear and lifted my spirits to make it back home with a smile.
Eat for endurance, like oatmeal with nuts, hemp seeds and blueberries, smoothies, veggies, carbs, and healthy snacks for the mid-morning pangs. Also, make a habit of having a nice water bottle around, and remember to use it.
Celebrate your successes every day.
Singular sports allow the opportunity to notice micro improvements.
What — you, bike in the rain, sleet and (gasp!) snow? It can be done…Part 2 will be here on Wednesday, with information about how to do just that, and GEAR, GEAR, GEAR!
Kez Sherwood is a regular Jane who really loves her bike. She is an artist & designer living in Gibsons, B.C. with her son Dexter and husband Jeremy. She found that committing to increased cycling was a learning curve and not always easy but worth it.