SAN FRANCISCO, CA Let's be honest; daily commutes sound fantastic when you travel less than 10 miles either by car, bus or train. But, is it the same as commuting using your very own two wheeled, single speed, rusty old buddy? Let's expand on all the things that can ruin your daily commute.
To start, let's set the background and the rules to determine the factors that can definitely ruin your awesome morning (or afternoon) trip to work or school or whatever other reason you have to move to point A to point B. The items below apply to everyone who owns a bicycle and uses it to go to/from work or school. No electric bike issues are covered here or riding in the middle of the arctic circle with a foot of snow, so let's keep it real people!
GETTING A FLAT TIRE - Imagine yourself riding at 15 mph, downhill with a subtle breeze hitting your face on a nice sunny morning. And then, Zeus strikes and WHAM!! you get a flat tire. Not only this little but annoying incident can be dangerous (especially on a downhill trip) but also it can be time consuming if you don't have a spare tire and tools to replace the damaged tube. Always check your bicycle and maintain it. It only takes a few minutes every morning to keep it in check or better yet, get some nice and light tools (and pump) to take care of issues like this. Not too good at the whole mechanic thing? Don't worry, there are mobile shops out there that can help with situations like this: beelinebikes, revrepair, velofix, thebikedoctor and many others. Find the right near you and if they have an app, that's even better!
WEATHER CONDITIONS - It definitely depends on where you live but weather conditions can make or brake your commute, regardless if you bike or not to work. Even sunny days can be challenging if you forget your water bottle. Rainy days are difficult if you don't own a really good rain jacket or waterproof gloves, not to mention that your backpack has to protect all your dry clothes and maybe even your laptop from water. Other places struggle with sand storms, high humidity, really hot and dry environments and snowy afternoons. My recommendation is to have the right gear for the right weather. Make a sound investment in products that can satisfy these requirements without going bankrupt, some companies allow you to try their stuff before committing, look for those options and ride!
GETTING HIT BY A DISTRACTED CAR DRIVER - More and more stories come up in the news about cyclist getting hit by distracted or disgruntled drivers. It doesn't matter how extravagant or fluorescent your cycling clothing are, it seems that nothing can prevent this from happening. In previous posts of this blog we talked on the commitment from cities and states to expand the cycling path networks to allow more and more people to ride safely. What can you do? Well, there are a ton of recommendations you can find in the web about this but my best advise is this: ride in highly visible streets with bike paths/lanes if possible. Don't try to ride around cars or try to pass them during traffic lights. Make sure they see you. A helmet mirror is a great way to see them and make sure they see you. Nowadays you can get really powerful bicycle horns to capture anyone's attention, these work well with distracted drivers.
A HANGOVER (HAD TOO MANY CERVEZAS THE DAY BEFORE) - Yes, this is a problem too! Don't get me wrong, the opportunity of having a really cold beer after a ride is magical, almost mandatory; but when you had too many of them, can be disastrous and painful. Dehydration is dangerous when riding as it can trigger so many side effects during your commute such as fatigue and dizziness (to name a few). I don't have to expand on this too much but you get the picture. Keep it light, enjoy a couple of beers and have a nice and happy ride the following morning.