Friday, August 28, 2009

Bike commuting - riding to work without losing your dignity or your life

The lemming got all riled up today and this post is the result of his overactive sense of frustration with advice articles. He's been doing a lot of group rides lately, hoping to partake in the city limit sprints and be asked to the grassy field bump sessions. Ironically, none of that has happened. He hasn't seen a city limit sprint so far and no grassy field bump sessions have been initiated. But anyway, that's not the point of today's article. Today's article is about commuting to work without losing your dignity or your life.

1) Find a safe route - The lemming doesn't like smelling exhaust or getting honked at or getting passed too close. Hell, I drive my car down Watkins to Peachtree, that doesn't mean I ride my bike on that same route. Google Maps has this really cool thing called street views that show the actual street view, plus you can pull and drag the route on a map to a different route. Use it and find a safer and more tranquil way in to work. Your lungs will thank you, your stress level will thank you, and your family will thank you.

2) Get one of those blinking lights - You want to be seen, get a blinking light for the back at least... Seriously you're hauling all of your shit along in either a backpack or panniers anyway, a blinking light isn't going to put you over any weight limit or make you look any sillier, and it might just save your life when a driver is smoking, drinking coffee, and talking on her cell phone while putting lipstick on.



3) Get a squeeky horn - Many others riders don't like to wave, if you are a person who needs the acceptance of others this can put a serious damper on your day. The solution is a squeeky horn. Meet another rider and squeeze this little guy and you'll warm the hearts of nearly everyone, except triathletes and CTS athletes who may be too serious to smile for fear of going out of their heart rate/power zone. This also works as a horn when cars are about to turn in front of you.

On to saving your dignity....

4) Wear the bike shorts, but leave the yellow jersey at home - We all have our favorite jerseys and shouldn't care what others think, but the fact of the matter is we don't want to continuously defend spandex to co-workers. So a baggier mountain bike jersey is in order... It's still closer fitting, still sweat wicking, but it looks like a t-shirt. Or...

5) Compare cycling to other sports - If you feel the need to wear spandex and want to fight the futile fight of defending it to co-workers you can simply say, "Why do you wear a glove and hat when you play softball?" or "Do you wear cleats when you play football?" or "Why do you need a bib in an all-you-can-eat buffalo wing contest?" Of course, there is a third option...

6) Self-deprecation - Everyone likes humor, all you need to say is, "Well, I'm off to put on my clown suit, hopefully you don't run my slow ass over on the way home". This will get a laugh and ease the tension that throttle pushers might experience as they get in to their car to sit in traffic as you ride along on your safer route listening to birds sing and watching rabbits mate.

Showers....

7) Obviously having a shower at work would be "the bomb" as I become a sweaty mess no matter how slow I try to ride. However, not everyone is this lucky. Please, PLEASE, do not take a container of Wet Ones along, wipe yourself off with that, and expect that it's as good as a shower. Anyone who says that "does the trick nicely" has probably never actually done that, just like most people who talk about city limits sprints or practicing something in a grassy field have probably never done that either. Smelling like alcohol wipes all day is not a good thing, and you might just attract the wrong kind of attention.

8) The spongebath - The better option, sans shower, is the spongebath. However, don't do this in your work bathroom unless you don't have access to another bathroom on some other floor where your co-workers don't go, as defending the sponge bath will be worse than defending spandex. And if you do find a bathroom like this, then beware of closet dumpers. Closet dumpers are co-workers who roam the floors looking for remote bathrooms to take a dump in so that they won't have to face co-workers coming in or going out, but that's a whole other topic. Perhaps the best option is to spongebath in a gas station near your work, but that is shady and it won't be long before they kick your ass out, so look for that remote closet dumper bathroom for sponge bathing. Just be aware that you might have an uncomfortable conversation on your hands when a closet dumper awkwardly pops in to do his business.

10 comments:

Stevil said...

I lost my dignity a long time ago.

Rantwick said...

I don't prefer dangerous routes of course, but the fact remains that most times taking the artieries is faster than the quieter routes.

I'll sniff the exhaust and deal with traffic just to make better time, because I am often late.

Once you wear bike shorts, it's tough to feel comfrotable in anything else. I wear them, and screw dignity or if they bug people.

BikeLemming said...

Stevil, you've still got your dignity, I think you might have meant you lost your virginity a long time ago?

Rantwick, totally agree on bike shorts, have to change the post. I wear them all the time too, hell I wear spandex jerseys riding to work, just giving pointers if someone wants to avoid the hecklers. Closet dumpers to me are scarier than hecklers.

Linda said...

We actually have a poop bathroom and a non-poop bathroom at work. This makes for some interesting comments such as "Go for it!" and Give it all you got!". There are no secrets where I work, obviously. The worst is when someone uses the non-poop bathroom and in mid-pee realizes there is more that needs to be done.

Just puttin' that out there...

Susan Tomlinson said...

Another informative post by the Lemming! Closet dumpers...who knew?

Screaming Monkey said...

I only dealt with the dignity factor on my first 5 or 6 commutes. I'm not sure if I've lost enough dignity to not care or I've gained enough dignity to not care...either way the dignity factor is gone. Also the more you commute the easier the process of commuting becomes. After a while it's as easy as getting in your car. Hearing is important also so clean out your ears if need be. I'm just sayin...

jeff said...

I would like to commute, but don't, because of the things you've outlined her. I just begrudgingly drive to work, or call in sick, or tell them I forgot I was scheduled.

Snakebite said...

Good advice!

BikeLemming said...

Linda and Susan, my blog has officially gone down the shitter!

Jeff, I need to try the "I forgot I was scheduled".

Screaming Monkey and Snakebite, welcome aboard. I agree that commuting does get easier the more you do it, and I don't always take my own advice. :)

Psyclepathic said...

I where a jersey to commute. The loudest one I've got. It's good to be seen from as far away as possible when your playing in traffic.

It's so hard to get normals to even see on the other side of the glass, let alone, understand it.

Maybe if I got a rainbow puking unicorn jersey it would put it into perspective for them.