Loving the Commute: Edition #5

There comes a time in a commuters’ life when you stop and say, “How am I going to get all this stuff, from here, to there…on my bike?” In fact, it’s a question that has some of the most power for stopping your commute in its tracks if you aren’t prepared. For the first time in my life, I lay out my next day’s gear, before I go to bed. No, I am not concerned that my jersey match my shoes, I am however, concerned that I don’t have to sit in my desk in my cycling clothes all day. There are two main schools of thought when it comes to bringing your gear with you, the backpack/messenger bag, and the pannier. On a “full bag” day I might bring a change of shoes, lunch, a laptop and associated wires, pants, and probably a shirt or two. All that stuff gets heavy, and bulky in a backpack, especially when you are using a Hydrapak Jolla which carries a “camel-bak” style water bottle in it as well. I love my Jolla, but that much gear is a little much. A full bag day calls for panniers. Many bikes come with attachments to help secure a rack to the rear of your bike. Then you just need to acquire some “saddle bags”, or “panniers”.   You can find panniers that are trendier and brightly colored, or as nice as your Uncle Sam’s briefcase. Either way, panniers are the way to go when you start to get more than 10 pounds or so in a backpack. While the Jolla and similar bags do a great job of keeping the water out, they don’t hold all that gear well, and they get heavy. Try climbing hills with straps cutting into your shoulders. In addition to the obvious, adding extra weight on your back tends to make your back sweat more, even if you don’t normally get too much of a sweat worked up on your ride in. If it’s just your iPad and a change of clothes, the Jolla is the way to go. Not only does it securely hold everything, it also holds plenty of water in an isolated compartment that ensures no accidents happen, and you don’t get dehydrated on those hot summer mornings and evenings.

You see the point, it’s all about planning. If you are about to give up your car for the commute, before you do take a couple of days to notice the traffic patterns at different times during your commute. The night before your ride, think about what you have to bring with you, maybe even pack your bags prior to going to bed. In addition to being properly prepared, it also gives you the opportunity to roll out of bed and onto the bike with fewer steps in between.

Be safe, stop at the stop signs, and have fun! See you on the roads.

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  • http://twitter.com/Lycra_Loony Mark Beaconsfield

    Again, nicely done Aaron. Some really good points there as to how 10mins can change the traffic conditions on the roads. My commute is usually during non-peak times and mostly along bike paths away from any major roads. Fortunatly, I dont have to carry much gear with me. I have two backpacks, a smaller one and a larger one, depending on the weather conditions and if I have to carry extra wet-weather gear.

  • Mike

    Another key part of my plan is to look at the weather radar on weather.com the night before, same time I’m getting my gear together.  That way I can dress for the days temps while on the bike and in spring when we get a big temp swing from morning to evening, I can have the right combinations.  If it looks like showers, I check it again closely in the morning and afternoon just before I climb on the bike.  Amazing how accurate the radar is now.  If it’s isolated showers, I can actually dodge them by timing my departure.  Of course steady rain over the whole state means I pull on a jacket and suck it up.

  • Mike

    Another key part of my plan is to look at the weather radar on weather.com the night before, same time I’m getting my gear together.  That way I can dress for the days temps while on the bike and in spring when we get a big temp swing from morning to evening, I can have the right combinations.  If it looks like showers, I check it again closely in the morning and afternoon just before I climb on the bike.  Amazing how accurate the radar is now.  If it’s isolated showers, I can actually dodge them by timing my departure.  Of course steady rain over the whole state means I pull on a jacket and suck it up.

  • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

    Another great Loving the Commute post, Aaron….and it’s so nice to officially have you as a Loving the Bike Teammate.  I’d really like to know the stats of how many people have become bicycle commuters since we started this Commuter series….I know you’ve helped nudge at least a few over to this kind of lifestyle.  Well done, Aaron.

  • http://twitter.com/cyclelogical cyclelogical

    Great advice on bicycle commuting! We always enjoy seeing great write ups on the how to of commuting by bicycle…. just a FYI on gear…we are launching a killer casual/dress SPD commuting shoe (the americano) in August for men..a great biking shoe that also can be worn at the office. http://www.cyclelogicalgear.com

  • http://twitter.com/cyclelogical cyclelogical

    Great advice on bicycle commuting! We always enjoy seeing great write ups on the how to of commuting by bicycle…. just a FYI on gear…we are launching a killer casual/dress SPD commuting shoe (the americano) in August for men..a great biking shoe that also can be worn at the office. http://www.cyclelogicalgear.com

  • http://twitter.com/cyclelogical cyclelogical

    Great advice on bicycle commuting! We always enjoy seeing great write ups on the how to of commuting by bicycle…. just a FYI on gear…we are launching a killer casual/dress SPD commuting shoe (the americano) in August for men..a great biking shoe that also can be worn at the office. http://www.cyclelogicalgear.com

  • Keith Edmiston

    Thanks for the write-up Aaron.  Good points, especially regarding traffic patterns.

    I would humbly add that the mapping feature on Google gets better everyday, and a savvy cyclist can use that in the planning of trips that aren’t everyday trips.  I just did this last night for a bike/train/bus commute to my monthly Woodworking club meeting.  I planned through Google Maps how to best route myself through some busy North Austin streets during traffic hour, copied the map click-for-click in to my Garmin Connect account, then loaded the course from there on to my Garmin Edge 500.  Cool!  I was able to simply turn when it told me to and behold…I had arrived. 

    Here’s the clincher: when I said earlier that Google was getting better, I meant it.  Clicking on the “cyclist” logo rather than the “car” or the “bus”, resulted in it paying attention to the fact that I was riding a bike, and therefore found me a route that had about 90%+ cycle-friendly streets…most with a full-on bike lane.  Love me some Google Maps…and Loving the Bike!

  • Julie Starling

    Nicely written!