|I commute all year long, but many of you will just be getting started soon.|
So, I decided to list some early season tips for commuting to help get you started in 2017. These may also work for anyone that is just getting their bike out for the year as well.
- Check Your Bike: You haven't ridden in more than a few weeks? Months? Then you need to air up your tires, dust off the bike entirely, and check to see if your chain feels wet with lube. If it doesn't- lube your chain before you ride and let it sit 24hrs before use. Lubing a chain just before a ride doesn't do anything but make your frame messy and throw lube off the chain. Just exactly what you don't want to do.
- Test Ride Your Bike: Don't wait till the morning of your first commute or the final minutes leading up to that first big ride to realize that your bicycle needs work. Take it for a short ride, shift through ALL of the gears, and test the brakes. If anything seems out of sorts, bring in your bike to Europa Cycle & Ski for your tune up.
- Watch For Early Season Debris: Since you last rode your bicycle in the Fall, all kinds of garbage has collected on the streets. Sand is the worst of these things. Heading into corners, be aware that traction will be compromised. Also- bits of car plastic broken off in fender benders, from car valances and rocker panels, glass, and all sorts of sharp objects are in the gutters mixed in with that sand. Beware of running through this stuff because it is easy to flat this time of year until we get that "gully washer" rain or the street sweepers come out.
- Make Sure You Can Be Seen! Bontrager and several other cycling brands are doing scientific research which is showing that daytime flashers and wearing brightly colored and reflective bits on our moving parts is the best way to be seen by motorists. So, get a front and rear flashing light, and consider wearing reflective ankle bands or brightly colored bits on your legs. I've been wearing bright orange bands, brightly colored bandanas, or reflective ankle bands for years, and with the lights, you get a lot more respect from cars out there.
- Research Your Route: make sure that you are using the lowest traffic count roads that you can. These will not be the ones you would use in your car going to work, typically. Make an adventure out of looking into a route by trying it out on a weekend or another time when you don't have to actually use it for getting to work. The pressure will be off to make time and you can critically analyze your route to tweak it out to be the safest and most effective cycling route possible for your needs.