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12 Tips for Surviving Bike to Work Day

How cyclists are preparing for May 17


Bike to Work
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (Rikard Stadler)

Last year, 7,265 San Diegans rolled into the office on two wheels (okay, 14,530 wheels) during a record-breaking Bike to Work Day.

Here at the magazine, our senior marketing designer Corey Hollister will be biking a whopping FIVE HOUR round-trip—from Oceanside to downtown San Diego. That’s 90 miles total! Naturally, we thought he was a good one to give us some advice. See below! (And check back tomorrow to see how his morning commute went.)

1. Plan your route. Take in consideration traffic, closed roads, etc., and give yourself extra time for emergencies like a flat tire. If you’re casually riding, assume you’ll go about 12 miles an hour.

2. Alert your boss that you’ll be biking to work. In case you’re late.

3. Make sure your bike is in tip-top shape. The ride will be harder, the worse shape it's in. Tires should be fully inflated and the chain lubricated and moving freely. If in doubt, take it to a local bike shop. It’s good to stock up on a spare tube, bike pump, and tools in case you get a flat (Corey rides with a spare tube, CO2, a patch kit, a bike tool, and a tire lever).

4. Dress properly. Tomorrow's forecast is a high of 67 degrees, 10% chance of rain, and 68% humidity. If you don’t have the full Spandex cycling outfit, just remember that lightweight, comfortable, non-restrictive clothing is best. For the morning, it'd be great to have a light jacket that you could shed. And don’t forget a helmet!

5. Clean up when you get there. Ideally, your office building has a gym with showers. If not, perhaps a friend or family member lives nearby and you could freshen up there. You could also try that hairspray stuff that makes your hair look less sweaty and oily.

6. Remember sunscreen and sunglasses. While it’s supposed to be cloudy tomorrow morning, the ride home should be sunny! Depending on your work hours—if you’re going to ride in the dark, get a bike light in the front and rear.

7. Eat a light breakfast so you have fuel. Don’t ride on an empty stomach. Skip the coffee before the long journey.

8. Hydrate! Experts recommend 20 ounces every hour. Bring a Camelbak or water bottles. And eat something every hour, like a Clif Bar!

9. Start slow. Get your legs warmed up, blood flowing, heart-rate up. Rest your legs before hills so you don’t burn out.

10. Break up the journey with markers you can see coming. Mini-goals are more obtainable. Corey looks for markers like the top of a hill and tells himself, “I want to make it there.” A good mantra that works: before my first half-marathon, the fitness director-turned-deputy editor at SELF told me, “Mind over miles, Erin!”

11. Obey all bicycle and traffic laws. Here they are, in case you need a refresher, from the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

12. Get free stuff. Register at iCommuteSD to qualify for the free snacks and t-shirt at designated pit stops. The iCommute trip tracker will also tell you how much gas you’ve saved. Strava is another fun way to track your ride and share it on Facebook. There’s also MapMyRide.

For more advice and anecdotes, two cycling San Diegans demystify the commute here.


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