road bike

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.


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?

Tour de Portland

Sunday morning I skipped the pool and watched some of the Tour de France. I’m glad that the cheater Contador isn’t doing well!

I like watching the Tour de France. It’s pretty inspiring and VERY humbling. I’m humbled by their speeds and skills. I could never do that. I struggled in June to bike 85 miles. Did you read that Lori biked over 350 miles in June? I’m so impressed!

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My hope is that July is a big biking month. I need the practice before the Portland Century! After lunch on Sunday we set out for the day. It was warming up but still a tad overcast. We biked from our house through neighborhoods and got to the Springwater Trail. Michael had mapped out a 40 mile loop on Google Maps. We headed West toward downtown.

I was feeling good. A little sore from Saturday’s workout but more sore from the gardening I did! My back felt really tender. I lead us passed Oak’s Park to the Esplanade and Michael drafted me. I stopped to see the Waterfront Blues Festival on the other side of the river. It was a sea of people!

We biked up the ramp next to the Steel Bridge and rode by the Rose Garden.

There was a goofy bike crossing–the first I’ve seen like this–where the cyclists have their own light and bike diagonally through the intersection. It was cool.

We biked by the max and passed the Rose Quarter to get to North Williams Street. The bike lane was wide and safe.

We biked up Williams and then stopped on Killingsworth to get some snacks: I got an iced tea and sucked it down in 2 seconds, Michael got a soda. I also had a GU.

We needed to get back to Williams and the bike lane ended. It was super sketchy and terrifying. We were clearly in a part of town that was NOT biker friendly. A car came inches from hitting Michael! 🙁

We got off this street and took some back streets until we could loop around to Marine Drive.

Marine Drive was much safer. Until we stopped to have another GU and water. I also wanted to stretch my back. I unclipped my right foot and then lost my balance. I was still clipped in on the left and struggled to get out and I FELL.

I hit the pavement — OF COURSE I had an audience too– and when I got up I was shaking from adrenaline. Scraped my knee, scraped my elbow, bruised my butt cheek, got road rash on my leg and scratched my bike. UGH!!!!

Not fun. I stretched and then we biked East on Marine Drive. The day had warmed up significantly and I was glad I wasn’t wearing long sleeves. We stopped a lot for water and stretches.

Marine Drive was nice and the mountain looked gorgeous. We biked to the I-205 bike path and headed South. There were a few huge hills we had to tackle on the way home. I was losing steam, growing tired. My butt hurt from the crash. My legs were NOT good on the hills either. I really struggled for some reason, while Michael zipped up them like they were nothin’.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful. About 5 miles from home I mentioned to Michael that we should get burgers for dinner. I didn’t have to twist his arm. He burned 2500+ calories or so?

Ride Stats:
Time: 3:44
Distance: 38 Miles
Calories Burned: 1788

We split a protein shake post-ride, cleaned up and went out for burgers.

QUESTION: What was the most active thing you did this weekend?