Manila Bulletin

Cycling 101 for commuters


INEVER thought that cycling to work was an imminent and serious commuting option until I read the feedback from an article wrote on February 18, 2018. Goes to show that the traffic has reached such debilitati­ng levels that many will choose to brave the polluted streets of Manila rather than get stuck for hours on the road.

In response to your queries, here are a few tips that will make cycling a more viable alternativ­e.

1. Make sure you use a helmet and cycling shorts

Always wear a cycling helmet when riding your bicycle – whether for a century ride, commuting to work, or just riding around the block or the village. I’ve gotten out of pretty bad falls before unscathed because I wore a helmet. Should you fall, always change your helmet even if there are no external signs of damage to it. A battered helmet offers no protection at all so better to replace it after a ground-hitting fall.

If your commute will be more than a 20-minute ride, using cycling short liners with chamois is a must. It’ll make your ride considerab­ly more comfortabl­e. Your butt and privates will surely thank you after.

2. Do a mandatory 5-minute check of your bike the night before

Check your bike the night before your ride. Check the tire pressure, make sure that the seat clamp is tight, water bottle or bladder is clean, etc. You’ll have enough time to fix things that need adjustment without having to do things in a hurry. Do it right at night so you don’t have to stress in the morning right before your trip. 3. Make sure you have tools A small multi-tool with a 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm allen wrench, tire levers, a small pump and a spare tube are essential. Just in case you need to tighten some bolts or repair a flat.

4. Find a route that has minimal vehicular traffic or slow flow of cars

I cannot over emphasize the importance of choosing, plotting, and planning your commuting route wisely. Avoid the main thoroughfa­res and highways at all cost. Ride on secondary roads where cars travel slower. Avoid routes where trucks commonly pass. Trucks have notorious reputation of multiple blindspots, and a person on a bicycle is hard to spot even during daytime.

5. Do dry runs and timelines to make sure you get to work on time

Try riding the route to your office on a weekend. Time the ride and familiariz­e yourself with the route. Give yourself additional time as buffer to make sure that you get in the office on time. Consistent with the 4th advice,choose your routes and plan on having multiple routes. Time your commute on these different routes so you’ll know how long it’ll take to ply them.

6. Work with a doable commute, and gradually increase frequency

Do things slowly and gradually. Baby steps. Allow yourself to gradually get into commuting. Check with your doctor on your plans to commute. See if you are up and fit for it. You might plan to ride 3X a week but it’s good to start on a lesser frequency. Once a week, then twice until you get accustomed to the pace and speed.

7. Make sure you can be seen by motorists

This includes not only wearing the right clothes, but also safety gear on your bicycle. Always have a light in front (even battery powered), and safety light for the rear. You might be cycling to work in the morning, but on your way back home, you might end up cycling well into dusk, and visibility is very important. It’s better to have the lights and not use it, instead of needing it, but not having it on your bike.

8. Make sure you check the weather before riding

Make it a habit to check the weather the night before your ride. Due to the crazy weather recently, it might be bright and sunny when you leave your house, but there might be a drizzle later in the day. Riding in the rain without adequate protection for yourself might affect your safety and convenienc­e.

9. Make sure you have a safe parking area in your office and a shower

It’s essential that you know where your bike is parked at all times. And it’s always good to shower before you start working. 10. Hydrate You don’t want to bonk or suddenly collapse while cycling. Remember the simple rule of drinking sips of water from your water bottle or bladder (from your backpack) every 10 – 15 minutes. Not big gulps, but sips of water. By the time you start getting thirsty, dehydratio­n has already set in. You want to avoid that. 11. Enjoy, but wear a mask Enjoy the ride, but don’t forget to wear a mask. Pollution in Metro Manila is terrible.

Commuting to work may sound tedious but so is getting stuck in traffic for hours with no immediate end in sight. It can also be a great inconvenie­nce if you are used to the comforts of riding in an air-conditione­d vehicle. If you want less time on the road, take the more adventurou­s route to and from work. If comfort is your priority, then grin and bear the reality of Manila’s traffic monstrosit­y. GoyYLarraz­abal/

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