First Commute By Bicycle | Grava Pannier Bags

Rebecca Johnson takes us on a journey discovering her first bicycle commute to work.  She had many lessons learned for her next trip, but some valuable insight for those wanting to start bike commuting to work.  We must remember our work keys are still attached to our car keys!  

Day 1 of cycling to work

Upon getting a job much closer to home, I thought it would be a cool experiment to see if I can cycle to work once a week. I like the idea of being more environmentally-friendly, more budget-friendly, and improving my fitness.  Over the summer is a perfect time to try this out, because I work in a school and my summer work is really flexible. I have some scheduled commitments, but beyond that, I schedule my own time to come into the school as needed. 

I picked a day with sunny skies, and it was about 70 degrees on the way to work, and more like 85 on the way home. My trip was 3.4 miles, each way. Initially I thought I would just put my work bag in my back basket, but my husband set me up with his paneer bags. My supplies fit easily in one bag, but I evened out the weight in both bags to keep the weight distributed. The bags worked great! If I had gone with the basket, my computer and files probably would have been flung all over the road from rolling through giant potholes and lumpy sidewalks.  Luckily, my belongings stayed secure, including a full thermos of hot coffee.

I’m not generally a big fan of shifting and fiddling with gears a lot, but for this trip I needed to use all of my gears correctly. I rode as a combination of riding in the road like a car, on the shoulder/parking lane, and on the sidewalk depending on what was available. I’d describing the route as marginally bike-friendly. Cars were polite and gave me plenty of space.  On the downside, the condition of road surfaces ranged from good in some places to covered in potholes, littered with roadkill, smeared with gravel and trash, and some sidewalks without curb ramps. 

Unfortunately for me, shortly after starting I realized my fitness level is terrible. I also realized that wearing my normal work clothes (school T-shirt and capri-length jeans) was a poor choice. On the plus side, these are problems with straightforward fixes. Each trip took me less than 30 minutes, including time to turn around and go back home, after realizing that I’d need my office key (which I failed to bring, since I didn’t need car keys). Getting to work was a somewhat sweaty effort, but within 30 minutes I was fine. Going forward, I would plan to get to work 30 minutes before a meeting to cool off, or I would just take a change of clothes. For the trip home, the sweaty factor was increased significantly. Also, I didn’t take a bike lock, so I just rolled the bike into the building, to my office. Ultimately I count this trip as a success, with some lessons learned for next week.

Rebecca Johnson, School Psychologist, Everyday Adventurer

Read Bike Commute 2 in Our Series

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