Commuting to work by bike offers a huge range of benefits, from leaving you more fit and healthy to reducing your stress levels at work to making you a more productive person overall.
While most bike commuters ride only a few miles each way, you don’t have to give up on commuting to work by bike just because you live further away from your workplace.
With a few extra preparations and the willingness to be flexible, you can easily make a long bike commute a part of your normal routine.
In this article, we’ll offer some helpful tips on how you can handle a long bike commute to make your ride more enjoyable.
When taking on a long commute, one of the best things you can do to prevent yourself from burning out is only to commute to work by bike a couple of days a week.
When you give yourself the flexibility to drive on some days, you’re more likely to look forward to the days that you get to take your bike out.
Plus, being able to drive when you need to or want to allows you to skip biking on those nasty cold, wet days that sap your morale and can save you stress on days when you have a big meeting in the morning that you need to be on time for.
If you’re new to commuting by bike, having your car some days of the week also allows you to build up to your bike commute so that you can work within your current level of fitness. This is especially important if biking the distance to work and home multiple days in a row would leave you increasingly exhausted rather than refreshed.
Another thing that keeping your car allows you to do is to mix driving and cycling for your commute. Consider planning a route in which you drive roughly half the distance to your office, then switch to biking the rest of the way in.
This is also a great way to incorporate a bike path into your route or to avoid dangerous sections of the road close to your home.
When you’re riding a long way each day, there is a world of difference between riding a commuter-friendly mountain bike and a true road bike.
Having a relatively lightweight road bike for your commute will require far less work out of your legs to cover the distance and take less time out of your day.
One of the other things you can do to improve your speed and make your ride more enjoyable overall is to invest in a bike fit at your local bike shop – a poor fit is one of the primary causes of discomfort on the bike that can lead to unwanted injuries.
If your route involves hills, make sure to choose a bike that offers multiple speeds. Although this requires more maintenance, your legs will thank you when you can easily spin up one side of the hill and then put on gears going down the other side.
Long rides can get boring, especially if you’re riding alone. One solution is to make yourself a favorite playlist or to find an interesting podcast that you can listen to during the ride.
Some commuters even use the time spent on the bike every day to learn a new language.
Just be sure whenever riding with headphones that you keep the volume low and keep one ear free so you can hear traffic approaching behind you.
The longer your ride is, the greater the chance that you’ll be forced to deal with a flat tire somewhere along the way – and the further you’ll likely be from either end of your journey when it happens.
Be sure to carry a flat kit, including a fresh tube and a way to inflate it, on your bike in a small top tube bag so that it is easy to access when you need it.
Also, remember to restock your kit anytime you pull something out of it.
Even if you eat breakfast before you leave the house, it’s important to stay hydrated and to eat during a long ride to keep your body fueled and performing at the level you need.
Keep a water bottle on your bike in a simple frame-mounted bottle holder, and stuff an energy gel or fruit gummies into the same top tube bag in which you’re carrying your flat kit so you can pull them out in case you get hungry.
If the weather report turns out to be wrong and it starts raining on you during a five-mile commute, chances are you’ll be wet but okay. If the same thing happens to you when you have another 30 minutes or more of riding ahead of you, you’re likely to get drenched – and if it’s cold out, hypothermia is a real concern.
Stave off disaster by taking a rain jacket with you whenever you ride, just in case the weather changes unexpectedly. When you don’t need it, you can tie it around your waist or stuff it in a pannier – but you’ll be glad it’s there in case you ever do need it.
While it might be easy to plan your arrival time down to the minute for a short commute, as the length of your bike commute increases it’s important to leave yourself plenty of time to spare.
It can be hard to predict when you leave the house whether your legs will get tired and slow down halfway through the ride, whether you’ll be riding against a particularly strong headwind on any given day, or whether you might have to stop and deal with a flat tire.
Leaving yourself extra time to deal with any of these possibilities will make your ride less stressful and ensure that you make it work on time.
Stave off the boredom of routine by changing up your route to work. With more miles typically comes more possibilities for different routes without adding much time to your commute, so don’t be afraid to change up the scenery.
Use Google Maps or Strava to map out potential new routes, and drive them before trying them out on your commute to make sure there are no significant road hazards that could get in your way.
Living more than a few miles from your workplace doesn’t have to stop you from reaping the benefits of bike commuting. With just a few tips and tricks, you can make your long bike commute an enjoyable experience and a long-term habit.
With Rydoze, I just want to share my experiences and help you along on your cycling journey. I’m putting the answers to all of your biking questions in one place. From the most basic to the advanced. You’ll find the information you need.