On the pleasures of riding to work
And I am in bliss. Not the type garnered from New Age workshops or bingeing on Eckhart Tolle. This is the type of bliss that comes from moving.
Two years ago, I made the decision to live without a car. I bought a decent bike, some really decent waterproof panniers and a backpack.
Most people thought I was crazy and said it wouldn’t last. Truth is, I think cars are crazy and I can’t imagine getting to work any other way.
See, when I ride, I get a chance to plan my day, to prepare myself mentally for what’s ahead. At the end of the day, the ride home gives me wind-down space. So riding helps me stay in shape mentally. And of course, it’s a good way to stay in shape physically as well. Like many creatives, much of my work involves sitting, so it’s important I take every chance I can get to move.
Now, I tread more lightly on the earth.
And I save money. Lots.
Sure, there are times when I have to go long distances from home for work. Then I catch public transport or hire a car. But it’s surprisingly easy to make most appointments within a comfortable kilometre radius. And besides, with access to Skype and Facetime, how easy is it to face-to-face without face-to-facing?
Naturally, the transition to riding to work takes some adjustment, so I’ve compiled a list of hacks to make your journey to a new lifestyle as comfortable as possible:
1. You may need to transition your wardrobe.
But only slightly. I manage to ride my bike in some quite amazing heels. One thing though is I now choose my fabrics a lot more carefully. I prefer breathable fabrics to cope with the sweat factor. I also opt for sleeveless tops and dresses over which I can wear a jacket or cardigan when I arrive. A breathable waterproof jacket is also a handy investment.
2. Choosing a bike is a bit of a big deal.
You want a comfortable ride. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a heap on the latest $10,000 titanium carbon number, but it does mean you’ll want a bike that suits the terrain of your environment, and one you can lift up stairs easily (because not all venues have elevators).
3. Build up your bike fitness in the beginning.
Ride only on alternate days to start with. Don’t go too hard-core at once, because then you’ll ruin yourself and not want to keep going. When I started, I was pretty exhausted after minimal riding, but now that my bike fitness has increased, riding is easier than walking.
4. Eat for riding.
Now that you’ll be relying on your body to get you around, you don’t want to have too many ‘off’ days. Keep your energy up by eating small regular meals. Bananas are an awesome go-to snack.
5. Find out where your local bike centres are.
You can often have a shower there with a clean towel, ironing facilities and a place to maintain your bike. Often these days office buildings have built-in showers. You might have one where you work, or perhaps you can arrange to use one in a building nearby.
6. Think light.
One of the bike rider’s enemies is weight. This was a big one for me because my work often involves books. And books are heavy. But I learnt to adapt to opting for online versions of books where I could. I ditched my heavy purse and now carry necessaries in a small pouch. The changes weren’t difficult ones, they just takes a bit of creative thinking and reorganisation.
It’s not difficult to ditch the car. Once you do it, you’ll wonder how you didn’t earlier.