When I started this eBike commuting journey I really had no idea what it was like to commute on a bike regularly. I had heard the other guys in the shop talk about what it was like but I didn’t have any hands on experience. Being fresh to the bike commuting community I had many questions surrounding what it would be like. How tired was I going to be once I got to work? Would I be able to sit in the saddle (bike seat) for 30 miles each time I rode to work? I know I see cyclists decked out in spandex, what should I be wearing? How do I get biking directions? These were some of the questions I had surrounding bike commuting and if anyone else is interested in starting to commute by bike, specifically eBike, you might have some of these questions too. So I wanted to give a summary of my experience of what it’s like to commute by bike and hopefully pass along some tips that will be helpful for those who are starting to commute by eBike.
Number 1: You will be out in the elements.
In a strange way the biggest thing I didn’t think about is that by biking you will be outside, which means there will be bugs and smells… My first time riding home from work I was completely unprepared for the amount of gnats that come out in the evening and hang around the path. Most of my commute, and many bike trails in the Denver metro area, follow rivers and creeks which means that many bugs and gnats are flying around at dusk. I was getting pelted in the face by bugs and had a hard time seeing and breathing. So the first thing I would recommend is having a face cover and appropriate eyewear so that you don’t get obliterated by bugs as your trying to have a fun time riding. For night riding I was able to pick up a pair of safety glasses to protect from bugs. Another product I have enjoyed are these face masks. Also, be prepared that riding will not always smell the best as you’re traversing the city. One spot that is always a challenge is along the south platte before downtown Littleton where there is a waste management plant, which often has a tendency to smell quite unpleasant. To keep riding it’s important to be prepared for what the experience can be like, and though there are some unpleasantries, I often find myself enjoying the wind, beautiful views and time to just think as I ride along.
Number 2: If it starts to hurt, you need to make a change.
One thing that seems to often get overlooked in the eBike world is making sure that your bike is fit well to you. It’s something I didn’t really consider too much until the second week riding when I felt a sharp pain in my knee that made it hard to keep going and get into work. By talking with the guys at the shop and doing some internet searching i learned that my foot positioning on the pedals and how close my seat was to the handlebars was causing the pain. A couple adjustments and I was back to riding without pain. It taught me that listening to your body while riding is very important. If I had continued to ride without making adjustments it’s possible that I could have injured myself in a way that would have put me out of commission. As you continue to commute by bike, make sure that you pay close attention to your body, instead of maintaining and servicing a vehicle motor your now maintaining and servicing yourself in order to keep riding.
Click here (https://youtu.be/1VYhyppWTDc) for a basic idea of how to set your initial bike fit.
Number 3: Wear what’s comfortable for you.
The cycling world is vast and there are a lot of different opinions on what you should wear in order to optimize riding ability and performance. The major article of clothing being cycling shorts with extra padding (chamois). I have personally found that the specific clothing items you can purchase have not been necessary for me. I’m the type of person that likes simplicity, I don’t want to have to bring extra clothes or change when I get to work if I don’t have to. One benefit of commuting on an eBike is that it seems to make riding in regular attire easier, but if you are starting your own commuting journey and are discovering that you have issues with saddle sores, then wear something with some extra padding. I can get away with wearing jeans on my rides, but our shop manager Adam needs to wear cycling shorts with a chamois to stay in the saddle longer. I would say it’s all preference, but don’t feel like you have to “have the right clothes” to start biking. Wear what you have and adjust if necessary.
Number 4: Google Maps is a great place to start for biking directions.
If you’re new to biking then you probably didn’t even realize that Google Maps has a bike directions feature. It is just about the only true bike direction service that I know of besides just looking at a map and trying to plan routes. Using the bike directions that Google provides is a great start but don’t feel like you need to follow them exactly. Many of the routes provided follow standard biking lanes, so while they are great for the biking trails, the system can sometimes take you on busy streets that technically have a bike lane but aren’t the best for riding. It also doesn’t necessarily tell you if there are any issues with a specific route. The first day I was biking into work I ran into some construction on the bike path that forced me onto surface streets. Luckily I was able to follow some detour signs to until I could get back onto the path. I have to admit that when I saw that I was going to be forced of the route I thought I was taking I panicked just a little. It taught me early on that just like driving, sometimes the routes we plan don’t work out and adjustments are necessary. So don’t be afraid to stray from the trail and see if maybe there is a better or maybe just more enjoyable way to get where you’re going.
For a bit more information on how to use Google Maps Biking feature click here (Google Bike Map Instructions).
I am still very new to bike commuting, but I can’t imagine going back to commuting by car everyday. I have no doubts that my bike commuting journey will continue, and as it does I will have to navigate new challenges, colder weather, night riding, and more routine bicycle maintenance are the three that first come to mind. If your new to commuting and have any questions or want to know more about my eBike commuting journey feel free to shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading! Make sure you stay tuned for my sixth week riding health update.