Indian Cyclists Network

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


  • Bicycle… :-)
  • Riding clothes – one for the morning, one for the evening (wear the first set, carry the second).
  • Helmet – ONLY for those who consider their heads worth saving… :-)
  • Wristband – to wipe away sweat – you don’t want it trickling into your eyes, mouth… or wherever… :-)
  • Gloves – not essential, but they add to your comfort, especially if your handle grips are hard.
  • Office formal wear – carry a fresh set everyday; formal shoes/socks can be kept in the office.
  • Trouser clips – to prevent trousers from getting ripped in the crank (binder clips / hairpins work).
  • Bag (backpack) – the lighter the better, even if you are going to strap it onto your carrier.
  • Water bottle – especially if you are cycling medium-to-long-distance; keep sipping regularly.
  • Lights – a must if you are going to ride pre-dawn or post-dusk.
  • Lock – a good sturdy lock; a longer chain/cable lock if you secure your bike outdoors.
  • Toilet kit – soap, towel and deodorant
  • Tool kit


C2W travel route


  • Use routes that you are comfortable with.
  • I prefer open highways – less or no pedestrian traffic, wide road
  • Check out good cycle repair shops (and clean loos) along the way... you never know when you’ll need them… :-)

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Comment by Anil Uchil on March 16, 2010 at 6:21pm
I can understand... :-)
btw, I have been carrying my laptop and accessories almost daily (except when I'm shooting)... along with change of clothes, deo, lights, repair kit et al... I guess one gets used to it after a while... :-)
Malls... hmmm, now there was a challenge - in the early days, I had to bulldoze my way (read: cajole/convince/argue/threaten, in that order!) to get the right to park in their two-wheeler parking areas... have had a encounter with the security chief / mall manager of most malls on the Western side, at some point or the other... on the Central side, most of them are quite gracious - many of them dont even charge us...
Locks... I agree... use a good, handy, convenient lock... whatever works best for you... :-)
Ride safe. Have fun. :-)
Cheers!

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