10 Things You Need to Start Bike Commuting Tomorrow

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The following is a guest post by Laurel Valchuis – a member of Workbar Boston and participant of the Babson WIN Lab. Spring is finally here, a season synonymous in Boston with unpredictable: sunny and windy today, snow in the forecast this weekend, and rain right on its heels. But don’t let it stop you! Below are the essentials for bike commuting in any kind of weather and settle right into work without the bother of a whole wardrobe change.

Preparation

bike commuting
bike commuting
  1. Dust off your bike: Make sure you have some good bike lube, clean up the chain and tighten the brakes.

Accessories

  1. Seat- See that beautiful plastic bag on my seat? I have a cheap seat that’s as absorbent as a sponge, so I leave the bag on while riding and take it off to dry out when I’m not riding. Having a wet bum when you get to work is not ideal. Not into the plastic bag? There are plenty of alternative options in the form of seat covers and waterproof, leather-free saddles. Check out Brooks England for a good selection.
  1. Lights and Reflectors- If you’re planning to ride at night, then safety first! Get something that you will never forget to bring with you that is also easy to keep charged. I use a Lezyne front light and Serfas back light and I always take them off when I park (I have had many a bike light stolen, ugh). I chose my lights because they are easy to charge via USB, work well, and are small and easy to carry in a pocket. I haven’t tried Fortified Bicycle’s lights- a more robust, theft-proof option- but they offer Workbar members a 20% discount. Someone be sure to try them and let me know how they are! And just because you have lights doesn’t mean you should underestimate reflectors- they’re cheap, make a big difference, and don’t need to be recharged. Use in conjunction with your lights.
  1. Fenders- Very necessary to keep you dry; I recommend them for both the front and back tires. I have the SKS Germany Longboard carbon fiber fenders which fare well in all conditions and last longer.
  1. Panniers/Rack- Perfect for carrying all your stuff without having to bear all the weight in a backpack. I have Ortlieb panniers that hook onto my back rack. While not cheap, they are very waterproof, durable, and carry a lot of stuff. These have been my best investment in my bike

Clothing

bike commuting
bike commuting
  1. Pants- Having something to throw on over your ‘work’ pants is a great way to stay clean and dry. In foul weather rain pants do work, but all that humidity can cause some temperature control issues and can feel like wearing a trash bag. I use 4UCycling pants as they are fairly cheap, breathable and semi-waterproof. I wouldn’t suggest them in a downpour, but they’re good for keeping you warm and dry, and they fit over normal pants.  For monsoon-style rain, a pair of light rain pants is going to be your best bet. Used Patagonia ones run you around $30. If you want to be super stylish, the Cleverhood looks, well, clever!
  1. Jacket- Layer! It’s warm, it’s cold, it’s raining, it’s foggy- one must be prepared for the ever changing Boston climate. I have a rain shell I wear over several layers depending on the weather. It’s Gore-tex, and well worth the money. With your layers, think wool, not cotton- it’ll keep you dry, and prevent a wardrobe change upon arrival.
  1. Helmet- In unpredictable weather, having an insulated and vent-optional helmet is key. I have a Bern helmet with a snap-in liner. It’s glorious, and better than fitting hats and other warm gear under a normal helmet.
  1. Gloves- Keep your hands warm and mobile, especially on those chilly metal brakes! Your hands aren’t doing a lot while riding, so it’s nice to keep them warmer than you think you’d normally require. I use Black Diamond Mercury mittens. They are down-filled, hefty, and water resistant.
  1. Footwear- Waterproof boots and some heavy wool socks are essential to keeping feet dry and not worrying about every puddle you splash through, especially when there’s a car on your other side! I have Blundstone boots, and wear Darn Tough socks, which are made in Vermont and guaranteed for life- I swear by them!

If you’re looking to include biking in your business model, check out my business, al FreshCo. We deliver locally sourced meal kits by bike, and Workbar is a pickup point!

bike commuting
bike commuting

Happy care-free riding, and see you all out on the roads tomorrow!

About the Author: Laurel Valchuis is the owner/operator of al FreshCo. al FreshCo works directly with their network of farmers to source fresh, seasonal food, turn these vegetables into meal kits, and deliver them by bike around Boston. Laurel spends lots of time on her bike and the al FreshCo tricycle, and is a happy Workbar member as part of the Babson WIN Lab group.

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