Bicycle commuting has many benefits: it’s environmentally friendly, inexpensive and a great way to work exercise into your day. It all adds up to an easy way to get around, says cycling enthusiast Owen Degenhardt.
“You don’t need to put in a lot of effort to get far on a bike in a short amount of time,” says Owen.
He should know. The Misericordia Community Hospital pharmacist commutes 30 kilometres on his bicycle to and from work—even in the winter.
“I ride year-round as a means of commuting to work or any other activity,” says Owen. “It’s exercise, stress relief and my travel means all rolled into one.”
Owen believes the toughest part of cycle commuting is getting started. But even if you only bike to work a couple of times a year, it’s better than none at all.
Test your commute time
Cycling can be faster than driving, depending on your commute. “I might be able to drop five or 10 minutes off my commute if I drove, but then I’d spend 10 minutes parking,” says Owen. High winds are the only factor that might slow him down. Otherwise, “I know exactly how long my commute will take me every day.”
Skip the gym
Biking is suitable for people of all fitness levels and is great exercise. “Cycling is pretty low-impact, so stretching and warming up is less important than in other sports,” says Owen.
Think of the money you’ll save on gas, parking and vehicle maintenance when you use a bike as transportation. “You can buy a lot of nice bikes for the same cost as even a cheap car,” says Owen.
Fuel your body
Nutrition is something to think about when actively commuting, explains Owen. “I noticed I was hungry all the time. If I don’t watch what I eat, I start losing weight quickly. I have to eat a lot.” Staying hydrated is also important. Owen recommends a common-sense approach: keep a water bottle at your side to sip throughout the day. Drink more if you feel thirsty.
Find a bike and helmet that fits you, says Owen. “If it fits you poorly, you’re not going to enjoy cycling and you might injure yourself. I also wear riding gloves just in case of a fall.”
Owen brings a complete change of clothes every day in his backpack. “I bike all summer in shorts and a T-shirt, then change into professional attire once I get to work.” His best tip for bad weather? “Extra socks! All other clothes will dry off, but wet socks are unpleasant and last throughout the day.”
Owen recommends riding with caution so you’re never surprised by a motorist’s bad behaviour. It’s also important that cyclists follow the rules of the road. “The more you ride, the easier it gets,” he says. “The most important part is knowing your bike and route and enjoying riding.”
Check the municipal regulations where you live, like the City of Edmonton, to learn how to comfortably ride the bike network in your area.
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