By Joanna Giordano
If you have the goal to start bike commuting, start planning now! Let’s say you can ride, but you want to step it up from occasional rider to commuter. This is a great goal! You will ride more, save money, and get the wind in your hair!
Here is a rough guide ramping up to May 19th – National Bike to Work Day.
What to do now:
1. Get your bike ready to go. Got your bike and helmet? Bells, lights? Have you had your bike tuned-up at a local bike shop so you know you can depend on your trusty steed?
2. Map your route ahead of time! Be sure to plan for there AND back since you will probably follow different routes and traffic directions. Don’t forget to assess the mileage, bridges, elevation in case you need to work up to it!
Check out the route turn by turn on the Google map bike option:
- Walk part of it while imagining you are riding
- Bike part or all of it on a weekend. Hop off and walk if you are ever unsure or uncomfortable. Instant pedestrian!
- Notice construction, pinch points, potholes, tough turns
3. Things to look for at your place of work:
- Does your work have a bike room? How will you get there? If it’s in the basement, you may need to use an alternative entrance.
- If you have to lock-up outside, scope out the area to assess security.
- Thinking that you’ll take Citi Bike? Where are the nearest docks to your office? Have a back-up in case your preferred dock is full or empty during your commute time.
- Can you change/shower at work? If not, is there a gym near your office you can use? Or maybe moistened wipes will work for you, or you’re okay with just sweating and glistening?
4. Review your street riding basics:
- Always ride with traffic. Never on the sidewalk. Not with headphones (only 1 ear is legal).
- Stop at lights and before the crosswalk. Not in or on it.
- Review a pedestrian style turn.
April – Time for some dry runs
1. Practice, practice, practice
- Ramp up your distance, if needed. Practice in the park or use your route to train when not commuting.
- Practice dry runs (part/whole) until you feel comfortable with the route and distance
2. A true dry run
- Dry run your entire commute round-trip.
- Leave yourself plenty of time so that there’s no need to rush.
- Note the approximate time taken. It will probably never take longer than that!
May – It’s go time!
Are you ready? How’s the temperature these days? How are those dry runs feeling The day before your first bike commute:
- Plan what you will wear and how you will pack your stuff. Basket, pannier, messenger bag, backpack? Whatever you choose, don’t dangle your purse from your handlebars!
- Check the weather forecast. Many people are all-weather cyclists but no need to be a hero if you don’t want to ride in the rain.
- Will you wear workout clothes and change at work? Don’t forget your bra! It happens to the best of us.
- Will you bike tres chic in your skirt and heels? This is certainly doable, but you may want to practice it a bit first.
- Will you bike home too? You can always split it up and bike in, subway home one day and the next morning: subway in, bike home.
May 19 – Bike to Work Day has finally come!
- Leave early. Bike to work!
- Leave plenty of time since it is an event and the roads may be more crowded with other newly minted bike commuters, like yourself. Give everyone space!
- Maybe you’ll have time to stop if there is a promotional handout – yum!
- Celebrate your accomplishment!
Good luck and we hope to see you in the bike lanes!
Have any other commuting tips or tricks to share? Join in the conversation in our Facebook group!
By Meg Ausen
Happy March Everyone!With daylight savings around the corner and spring approaching, it’s likely that WE are all chomping at the bit to get back on our bikes after a cold and slippery winter. In preparation for hitting the pavement, WE have some ideas for exercises to prep your body for the upcoming cycling season. Remember to always be safe and if you have certain health issues, modify or avoid any exercises that will aggravate pain or cause injury. If you have any questions about how to perform any of the below exercises, it’s best to consult a health professional!
Core strength is essential for cycling, particularly if you are riding longer distances. Your core creates the platform for pedaling, so working naturally having strong core muscles will translate into stronger pedaling. Not only will the following exercises strengthen your core, but you may see improved posture as another benefit – a strong core helps alleviate lower-back pain that is often associated with cycling. One of the pros behind these exercises is that you can do them from the comfort of you own home. For an added bonus, add some weights to your routine.
- Planks – planking is one of the best movements a cyclist can do. Try side planking if you really want to make your core work.
- Crunches – crunches target both your abdominals and your hip flexors.
- Leg Raises – the benefits of leg raises are many – besides targeting and strengthening your core, leg raises work hip muscles, thigh muscles, quads and your back!
A no brainer, keeping your legs in shape is essential for having the strength to pedal yourself from point a to point b. Like the core exercises listed above, the following exercises can be performed from the comfort of your own home – no need for forking out the money for gym fees if you don’t want to!
- Squats – squats are considered a powerful exercise for cyclists, targeting the hamstrings and glutes, some of the key muscles for strong cycling.
- Lunges – targets many of the most important pedaling muscles, including the calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Mix it up by throwing reverse lunges into your routine.
Try to introduce some yoga into your schedule. Aside from helping to alleviate stress (really important for New Yorkers!), yoga can be extremely beneficial to cyclists. Cyclists often have really tight hips, shoulders and hamstrings, and yoga can open those back up and correct some muscle imbalances.
If practicing at home, here are some recommended poses for cyclists
- Cat/Cow – this pose brings length to your spine in both forward and back bends, working out stored tension from cycling.
- Downward Dog – this pose will help to open your lower back simultaneously strengthening it, which will help provide structural support when you’re on your bike.
- Chair Pose – this pose helps to both strengthen and open up your lower back and hips. It also helps to lengthen the upper spine.
- Sacrum Stretch – this pose opens up the entire spine, particularly the sacrum which is located at the base of the spine.
If you want to pay for classes, the options for yoga studios in New York city are endless. Do some research for studios that suit your needs, but here are a few suggestions:
- SYNC Studio – this is a joint cycling/yoga studio in Williamsburg.
- Third Root Community Health Center – a community center in Brooklyn centered around social justice. Offers yoga and alternative medicine.
- Yoga to the People – with locations all around New York City, this studio is a welcoming and affordable way to find out what type of yoga is right for you.
These exercises are helpful to us all year long, but building a routine as WE wait for spring will pay off when you are ready to get back on your bike for the upcoming season! Do you have any other ideas? Feel free to post them on WE Bike NYC’s Female Bike Forum!