Commuting 101: Plan Ahead

alarm clockUPDATE:check out the comments for more (better?) tips…

The biggest enemy of choosing the bike over the car is not planning ahead. If you don’t plan ahead then it’s way to easy to get flustered in the morning and grab the keys. Here’s a few things to think about the night before to get ready for your commute…

  • Set out riding clothes and pack work clothes
  • What are you hygiene needs? Is your job blue or white collar?
  • What’s your breakfast and lunch plans? If you pack your lunch, do it the night before
  • Check your bike over. Tire pressure, quick releases, seat height, etc.
  • What’s your route and are there any errands? While your route to work may not change much on a daily basis, make sure you ask your significant other if there are any places you need to stop along the way
  • Set the alarm a little early. Allow time to get out the door and ride to work.

What else should a commuter plan ahead for?

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0 thoughts on “Commuting 101: Plan Ahead”

  1. Apertome says:

    I’d add the following:

    – Where are you going to park your bike?
    – Where will you change clothes?
    – How will you carry your stuff? (Backpack/messenger bag/panniers etc.)

  2. Adrian Fitch says:

    I also always check the weather forecast. It’s much nicer knowing what to expect on my ride in.

  3. Tim Goss says:

    As with Adrian, I check the weather forecast the night before. I also check the sky and temperatures when I get up in the morning. Determining what clothing to bike in is important depending on the weather/temperature. And I give myself plenty of time to saddle up. I carry a laptop in a side pannier, pack my lunch and carry work clothes. I also make sure I have an energy bar in my handlebar bag.

  4. Al says:

    Weather is a must. I always check the weather for the ride to and FROM work.
    I would also add make sure your bike computer and/or lights are charged up (if applicable) or have good batteries in them.

  5. James says:

    It is good to leave as much as you can at work. Asise from obvious items like soap and deodorant, one thing that I do is keep a couple of pairs of shoes and belts in my office. It is easier to plan and carry clothes for work if you only have to worry about choosing pants and a shirt.

  6. Fritz says:

    My evening routine includes packing my bike bag for the morning commute: underwear, pants, and shirt for work. Make sure my wallet, phone and work badge are in the bag, along with whatever book I’ll read on the bus and train. I check the weather and select which bike I’ll ride and set out my riding clothes next to the bed.

    In the morning, I dress, brush my teeth, grab my lunch (usually leftovers frozen in a zip baggie), check tire pressure and inflate if necessary, ensure my son is awake for school, turn on my bike lights and zoom away.

  7. Jett says:

    I’d like to hear from Midnight Rider. I understand he has a hybrid commute: he brings both the car and the bike.

  8. Robert says:

    Just like long-distance cyclists (racing or recreational), the morning of a lengthy ride is not the time to make major adjustments to either the bike, clothing, or other equipment. Make sure you’re already comfortable and don’t try any experiments.

  9. Fritz says:

    I experiment all the time, Robert 🙂

    Jett, the phrase is “multimodal.” I’m a multimodal commuter too: bike + bus + train + bike (or sometimes a shuttle bus for that last leg).

  10. Evan says:

    If you pack your bag the night before make sure to check it in the morning or you may wind up going commando.

  11. Jett says:

    It’s funny, I have to do all that planning for me to take the car (make sure it has fuel, air pressure in the tires, battery not dead, figure out where I’m going to park). I’ve only taken the car into the office twice in the last 3 years so I forget how to do it. If I can’t ride, I can walk the 3 miles.

    Al & Tim, with you all the way on the weather although I generally don’t care whether my ride home will be wet or not. It Atlanta, we have to use hurricanes for snow days.

    Robert, last night I experimented with putting air in my tire without using a gauge. I almost lost the tube and tire (and risked my hearing too!) putting in too much air.

    Fritz, thanks for the phrasing I couldn’t pick out of my brain. It looks like my weak allusion to hybrid bikes fell flat.

    Evan, that never happens on purpose, right? ;-).

  12. Tim Goss says:

    I agree that going home in the rain is no problem. I figure if I can get to work without getting soaked, I’m ridin’. I work a very flexible schedule and can delay my ride in if the weather looks ugly and just wait for the next break in the rain. Oregon rain breaks are short lived, however. I can leave work at varying times also. For me I’d rather ride in the rain than the wind any ol’ day.

  13. Larry says:

    Like with most above, a weather check the night before is a must. With winter biking to work in Alaska, the weather can change overnight and you could wake up to snow. With that occasionally happening, I maintain an alternate route just in case they plowed our streets. Thus, blocking off an access point to my regular route. I also have the luxury of having two sets of wheels for the winter; one set with studs and another with a wide tire for flotation on the snow. If I awake with snow present I can quickly change out the wheelset.

  14. Al says:

    Can you provide some info on your studded tires? I ride to work year round regardless of weather and have a pair of studded tires too, but they are getting worn and have not been able to find a replacement set.


  15. Fritz says:

    Al, surf on over to ICEBIKE and look at the detailed information on studded tires there.

  16. […] to use their studded bike tires, most of the Northern Hemisphere has escaped the grip of winter. Al asks, though, about information on studded […]

  17. David says:

    Someone mentioned keeping extra shoes and belts, great idea. I’d only add that keeping an extra set of under garments is not a bad idea either.

  18. mr. guel says:

    i have a multimodal commute. mainly because i live in an outlying rural area where drivers don’t know how to deal with cyclists and the road in is just too busy and unsafe anyway. so, i drive into downtown, to a free parking lot, and cycle the rest of the way in. i get around by cycle all day.
    it’s really helpfull that i do actually have the car because i don’t have to tend to much in the morning. by the time i’ve ridden the 10 or so miles into downtown, i can usually tell if it’s raining or what-have-you. rain or shine determines my route more than anything else. when it rains i stay on the sidewalk, because the pedestrians are all huddling indoors and traffic accidents are so much more frequent in the rain. i can actually take a quicker route via the sidewalks. when it’s dry i stay on the road.
    i get by just fine with a light raincoat that folds up and fits into a smallish pocket in my rucksack.

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