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5 Easy Ways to Commute by Bike More Often

So you have tried commuting by bike and are interested in doing more. You know it is good for your health and like it. But your actions don't match your intent. My wife likes to say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." You know you want to ride more days, yet something keeps getting in the way: bad weather, not enough time, unsafe to ride. Here are five easy things to help you ride more.

1. Add fenders to your bike - If you live in Southern California, perhaps this is not a concern, but for most riders wet pavement is an issue. Why? Because when the pavement is wet, you get wet! And most likely covered with grit and a wet stripe down your back. Fenders are a great solution. Adding fenders was easily one of the best things I have ever done to improve my commute. Now, the only time I get wet is when it actually rains.

2. Get a rack and panniers - Many bike commuters wear a backpack to carry their stuff. At first glance this seems like a great idea; it's easy and most people already have a backpack. And for a short trip it's very convenient. However, wearing a back pack is a sure way to get sweaty and put a strain on your neck, shoulders, and back. A better option would be a messenger bag which at least fits better than a backpack.

However, even with a messenger bag, your body is still carrying the weight. In effect, you are putting more pressure on the nerves and blood vessels of the vulnerable area of the body called the perineum. Compression of the perineum can lead to increased health problems including groin numbness, tingling sensations and possibly impotence. This is a potential issue for both men and women. The solution is to make the bike carry the weight. By using a rack and panniers (saddlebags), you are transferring the extra weight and pressure from your body directly to the bike. There are many types of racks and accompanying panniers, Here's a useful article on how to evaluate the options.

3. Be Flexible - So many times our schedule can become a challenge: a breakfast networking event to attend, or the kids soccer game after school, or a dinner engagement. For most people, the daily routine is anything but routine. In these instances, it helps to think about your riding in smaller segments. For instance, maybe you have a function after work - instead of thinking I cannot ride today, consider the question, "Can I ride in the morning and get to my function after work in some other way (train, bus, taxi, foot, friend)? "

Instead of thinking "I cannot ride today", consider the question, "Can I ride in the morning and get to my function after work in some other way - train, bus, taxi, foot, friend? "

4. Dress for the weather - The weather is constantly changing and greatly influences the quality of the ride.  Even on a calm, sunny, warm day, you create your own breeze while riding. Staying comfortable is essential to riding. This means keeping your core warm as well as you toes, fingers and face.  Before you go out, check the weather so you know what to wear. 

5. Wear a helmet - Why is this item on the list? Safety is one of the biggest reasons people do not bike more frequently.  While wearing a helmet does not necessarily make you a safer rider, it will help reduce the risk of injury.  According to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine, riders with helmets had an 85% reduction in their risk of head injury and an 88% reduction in their risk of brain injury. Those are compelling numbers. At the very least, wearing a helmet prevents certain types of injuries.  Less injury means more days available to ride. 

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