I had originally written this piece for the first edition of the online magazine on cyclists.in... but since someone else too was writing on the same topic, I didn't send this in...
So, here goes... hope you enjoy it... and as always, comments/ideas/suggestions are more than welcome... :-)
Ride safe. Have fun. :-)
C2W – Cycle to Work
I started cycling to work in 1993… which is when I started working… :-) My reasons? Well, an irrational love for cycling, a general dislike for traffic jams and crowded buses/trains and a vague concern for the environment (and fast-depleting carbon fuel resources)…
However, whenever I’d tell people that I commute daily on a bicycle, they used to think I was nuts… that’s because the mango people (er… the “aam” junta) think of a bicycle either as a leisure item/toy or as the poor man’s (ie, dabba-wala, doodh-wala, pav-wala, newspaper boy, raddi-wala, restaurant delivery boy etc) mode of transportation… and when I told them that it was for the environment, they’d stare at me like I’d just landed from Mars!
A lot has changed in the last three decades (yup, I started cycling in 1979-80)…
Traffic has increased… but then, traffic sense too has improved somewhat... and so have the
roads – better surface, wider roads (more lanes), flyovers et al…
Carbon fuels are still depleting, but there’s greater awareness, and more willingness to do
something about it…
My love of cycling… well, that’s one thing that’s unchanged… or wait, maybe it’s deepened!
So, while the times may have changed, the ground rules (and some of the challenges) are still
pretty much the same… :-)
Clothes maketh the man (and the woman)
Unless you are in a super”cool” city and/or are riding very short distances, you are bound to
perspire… and continuing to work in sweaty clothes is uncomfortable… for you as
much as for your colleagues!
So don’t confuse riding clothes with “acceptable casual wear”! Change into regular office wear
once you reach office…
You could ride in t-shirt and shorts, or professional riding gear (I prefer knee-length cargoes -
three-fourths)… as long as you are comfortable and it is acceptable to walk into your office premises wearing them. If your organization objects to your walking in wearing shorts, carry a loose-fitting track pant and t-shirt that you can easily pull over with removing your shoes… just pull it on over your riding clothes in the parking lot, before entering your office… If you prefer to
(or have to) ride in jeans/trackpants/trousers for any reason, just ensure that there are no loose flaps that could get stuck in the teeth of the gear cranks… if you don’t want to buy expensive riding clips, just use binder clips (the black one used in office to clip a large bunch of papers) or even hairpins (bobby pins)…
Once you reach your office, freshen up and change into your formal work clothes… If your
riding clothes can’t be aired/dried in the office, carry an extra set for the evening ride back (unless you are ok with riding in damp, smelly togs…). If your office doesn’t have a gym/shower, do carry a towel to dry yourself off… And yes, a good deo is a must… :-)
You might choose to keep formal wear for the entire week in the office provided you have the
space for it (lockers/drawers), or carry a fresh pair everyday (I prefer the latter)… Either way, it’s best to bring each used set back in the evening so that they get washed and ironed, instead of stinking up your office locker… :-)
Formal footwear can be kept in the office. Change into them in the morning, and switch back to
your riding shoes in the evening. Ladies, you might face a challenge here, since your formal shoes could be a larger range (even if you are not an Imelda Marcos fan!)…
Trust in God, but lock your bike!
Most office premises have safe parking lots – either indoor, basement or stilt. But whether
inside or out in the open, secure your bike well… Use a good lock.
If your office doesn’t provide parking facilities, be sure to chain your bike to a pillar/pipe/fence/grill so that no one can just lift it and walk away with it…
Befriend some of the security guys (or the friendly neighbourhood paanwala/shopkeeper, if you
are locking your bike out in the open); it helps! :-)
Remember to take all your detachable items (front/rear lights, cycle-comp (speedometer), water
bottle, air-pump) with you whenever you park (or leave your bike unattended for more than a few minutes).
By the way, if your wheels have quick-releases, then you’d better use a long cable through the
wheels and lock them. (You don’t want to find your cycle frame waiting for you, safe and sound, with your wheels gone, right…!)
I use a Kensington cable (long cable with a combination lock, used for securing your
laptop to the table in a restaurant/airport); works well for my bike… :-)
C2W (Cycle To Work) essentials
C2W travel route