How I Prepare for My Bike Commutes

The hardest part, honestly, about commuting to work on bike is the amount of preparation that goes into it. It’s not like I can just wake up and get on my bike when I feel the whim and head on into work. Or maybe I can, and I just inherently over-plan everything. So this post is about how I prepare for my commute. I’m forever tweaking things to find a better, more efficient way to do it, but for now this is it.

The Day Before

The day before,  I take my change of work clothes to the office and leave it at my desk for the next day. When I first started commuting, I was carrying everything in a backpack for the day–my change of clothes, my shoes, my lunch, etc and it was way too much stuff. Instead, I take as much of my stuff I can the day before to lighten my load. I also keep a spare change of shoes and pants in the office. I also keep a little makeup bag with things to freshen up with once I get to work. Baby wipes are awesome.

If I can, I also take whatever I am going to have for lunch the day before. The key here: take as little as possible in my backpack! If you bike with saddle bags, this might not be an issue for you.

I usually have some snacks and lunch alternatives stored in my desk anyways. Just in case!

The Night Before

I lay out everything I need and get everything ready for the next day. This is crucial because I have the tendency to forget about things…and it would be bad if I forgot to pack my bra or something! My first commute of this year? I forgot my water bottle, and the temperature got up to 80. I had to buy a bottle to get me home.

I pack my backpack as light as possible to alleviate the strain on my back and shoulders. What goes in the backpack: my wallet with ID and money, my work ID, my lunch, my “undergarments”, my keys, and my headphones for work.

I also lay out my helmet, gloves, jacket or arm-warmers, sunglasses, Road ID, heart rate monitor and my cycling shoes.

The Morning Of

I get up earlier than normal and have a lighter breakfast than usual. I learned the hard way that eating my normal high protein and high fiber breakfast makes me want to vomit on the bike.

I’m usually scrambling. I MUST be on my bike by a certain time in order to get to work on time. Sometimes I can make up time on my bike (especially on the Springwater trail where there are few stops) but I don’t count on that. I like to have a buffer of a few minutes. You just never know what’s going to happen.

Getting dressed in the gear is what takes the most time. And of course, going outside with said gear to test the weather and see if I need more layers…then going back inside to change or add clothes. This part never gets easier.

I pump my bike tires–before every single ride–and make sure everything looks okay to go. Finally, I am off.

Success

The routine for going home is easier. I leave my morning “cold weather” gear at the office with my work clothes, change into my warm weather gear that was underneath my layers and head out. It takes about 10 minutes to get ready to go home, compared to at least 30 minutes in the morning.

As you can see, it’s not quite as simple as just getting on my bike and going. With practice it becomes second nature and I forget less and less. One final tip: drink a TON of water before, during and after biking and also eat something small as a recovery when you are done. Your muscles will thank you.

QUESTION: If you are a bike commuter, how do you prepare? Do you have any suggestions or tips that have worked for you?