Best advice

bicycle at sunrise

Image credit: Gary Jackson

A commitment to bike commuting can be a fickle thing. Yes, I’ve known a handful of stalwarts over the years whose dedication never flagged, who made every trip by bike, uphill both ways, through driving snow, in boiling heat, and under plagues of locusts. I admire those folks. But then there’s the rest of us humans, with our faltering wills, irresistible snooze buttons, and ever-ready list of reasons (some of them maybe even good reasons) to reach for the car keys instead.

We’ll have a lot to say about the thousand little things you can do to set yourself up for success as a cycling commuter. I hope at least some of our advice makes you throw a leg over that bike even one more time than you might otherwise have done–that’s one very important measure of Bike-Ready’s success. And we look forward to hearing about what works for you–that kind of shop talk is one of our favorite conversations (along with other gems such as, Wilco or Son Volt?, the tremendous interrogative power of sci-fi, and how sea urchin just might be the only truly inedible sushi). We bet you’ve got tricks we’ve never even considered, and we want to hear them.

It probably goes against all rules of website content, narrative integrity, and good sense to do this, but no teasing, no foreshadowing, no holding back: I’m going to open the discussion with my personal number one, gold star, A-plus, best quality tip. It’s deceptively simple, and it took years of commuting before it finally registered in my conscious awareness–but then it made a world of difference.

So here it is, Jessie’s Very Best Advice For Commuting Success:

Never make a decision about how you’re going to get to work while you’re still in bed.

Some very special people, I’m told, don’t mind the sound of the alarm. They languidly stretch in bed, opening bright eyes with a contented smile while bluebirds chirp at the window. They greet the day like animated movie princesses, about to burst into song.

I am not one of those people.

In that moment, post-alarm, when my pillow still holds the shape of my face (and, let’s face it, a little drool), it’s easy to over estimate the benefit I’ll get from snoozing another fifteen minutes and then driving to work. The extra sleep is minimal, and not of particularly high quality. The time “saved” snoozing quickly becomes a bigger waste–wasted irritation in traffic, wasted gas, wasted opportunity for exercise and fresh air. It’s never as good a trade-off as it seems, although my still-half-asleep brain always wants to think so.

I’ve found that a few short minutes are all I need to short-circuit that deceptive pattern of thinking. If I wait to make the decision–if I focus instead on just starting my day, without looking ahead to the commute–my thinking about it clears, and it becomes exponentially easier to choose the bike. By the time I’ve taken the dogs out and put on the teakettle, my perspective on ease and importance and genuine desire has been restored. Driving doesn’t seem worth it, and damn if it isn’t a lovely morning for a ride.

So that’s it. That one little shift can turn a no-good, very bad morning around. Because here’s another thing I’ve found: I might not always want to ride, but I’m always glad I did.

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