Getting around urban areas on a bike makes so much sense. With distances that are easy to build up to riding, you can avoid congested roadways and overcrowded public transportation networks if you venture out on two wheels. While getting started can feel a little intimidating, you will soon grow addicted to getting a dose of fresh air arriving where you are feeling invigorated and energized. Here are 8 tips to help you commute by bike with confidence:

Go your own speed, it’s not a race

Commuting shouldn’t feel stressful or rushed. It’s important to take the time you need to get from point A to point B. Your bike commute won’t be nearly as pleasant if you worried about being late. Feeling you need to push hard to make it to work will detract from what could otherwise be relaxing and invigorating morning routine . Give yourself more time than you think you need when you start commuting.

Install fenders to stay dry

A simple but worthwhile bike upgrade to make when you start commuting is installing fenders. While you never want to be caught in the rain, it will happen from time to time and this way you’ll be prepared. Fenders won’t only keep you drier when it’s raining but when the road is wet they’ll also prevent road spray from flinging up grit dirtying your clothes and frame. They are a very worthwhile investment.

Pack a change of clothes

You don’t need expensive athletic attire to commute but when it’s warm or damp out, it’s never a bad idea to have something to change into if you get wet from sweat or the elements. If you need to wear business attire, it’s not a bad idea if you commute is more than 15 minutes to carry your work clothes in your bag to change into upon arrival at your destination. You can alternatively leave a change of clothes at your office so you can freshen up upon arrival at work.

First-person view of cyclist in the city at morning

Plan your route

You may think the most direct route is probably the best one to get you to your destination. That might not be the case. Before embarking on your commute, consider where the local cycling infrastructure can take you. Make sure you can avoid the busiest roads and as much as possible try to stay on side streets for a more peaceful commute. Hopefully where you live has sufficient cycling infrastructure so you can get relatively close to where you are going but doing a bit of research will allow you to take a more enjoyable route.

Have a backup plan

Storms, mechanical issues, illness or just fatigue are all very valid reasons to skip the bike commute and seek another means to get to where you are going. Just because you’ve started bike commuting doesn’t mean it’s time to cut up your bus pass just yet. Keep a backup plan just incase so you’re never stuck wondering how to get around.

mountainbike flat tire on road

Learn to fix a flat

The most common bike issue you will encounter is a flat tire. Having a spare tube, tire levers, a mini pump and the know how to fix a flat will ensure you are never stuck on the side of the road with no way to get where you are going. Fixing a flat takes a bit of practice so make sure you’ve done it a few times at home.

Slowly build up your wardrobe

While commuting doesn’t require any specialized gear, you’ll be grateful to have various pieces of apparel that make riding in different weather conditions more comfortable. A good rain jacket and rain pants will make riding when it’s wet not only possible but much more enjoyable. A pair of versatile gloves for cool mornings are nice to have. A cycling cap or hat to put under your helmet to keep your head warm will allow you to ride earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Cycling apparel can add up quickly but don’t feel you need to go out and buy everything at once.

Always carry the essentials

While you might not need certain things on your commute, it’s good to have the essentials with you at all times in case your plans change. It’s a good idea to always travel with your bike lights in case you are riding after dark, a lock so you can run an errand, your flat kit and a multi-tool in case you need to make an on the go repair. Having these things will give you the flexibility to change your plans more easily.

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