In the first part of my Guide to Commuting, I looked at ten reasons why you should think about commuting to work. It might be the case that one, a few or even all of those reasons have got you thinking about setting your alarm a bit earlier. They might have you pondering a route that will get you from home to your office. You might even be starting to think about all the fluorescent clothing you can wear!
While matching fluro booties and gloves are VERY important, it is essential that to become a commuter, even just a part time one, you must work out your logistical plan. By this I mean showering, clothing, bike security and other important considerations you want to have sorted out before you turn up in the office in your knicks.
Let’s get started:
1. Get Your Timing Right
From the time that your alarm goes off, to the first meeting you need to attend, a number of sequential activities will occur. Here is a quick overview of my standard morning:
– Get up and Get Ready: 30mins
This is the time I allow for getting up, eating breakfast, brushing my teeth, putting on my gear and a small buffer for watching Fox Sports news (especially during EPL season, Grand Tour season, etc). I will usually have my breakfast in the fridge ready to go and I’ll put out all my gear and have my bag packed the night prior. I can do it in 20mins, but usually not much less.
– Commute: 60mins (25km)
My standard commute is about 60mins, which is mainly on back streets and bike paths with a group. Given traffic lights (and traffic itself when you get closer to the city or built up areas), you probably won’t be able to average much more than 24-25km/h.
– Coffee/Social Time: 20mins (optional)
Pull up at a cafe with my buddies, have a warm beverage (or breakfast number two after a big commute), generally have a chat, laugh, discuss critical commuting business (fashion, that jerk in the white ute, weekend racing) and sit around not wanting to go to work! Remember if the coffee shop you choose is 10mins from work, factor that travel time in.
– Shower/Get Ready Time: 30mins
Lock my bike up in the basement, grab my stuff from my locker, have a shower, wash my hair, dry my hair and do my make-up. If you are a man, this will probably only take 10mins. If you wear a lot of makeup or have difficult hair, this might take longer.
Once all these activities are completed, I get in the lift and appear at my desk usually at around 8:30, which is before most people get in anyway. Decide what time you want to be at your place of work and work backwards. If you are unsure, leave a bit of extra time at first.
2. Bike Security
Find out if your workplace has a special area to store bikes – you will probably find that most of them do these days, especially corporate offices. Bike storage will range from a pole with a BYO lock, to a CCTV monitored bicycle cage (made from recycled timber obviously) with a range of racks, a work-stand and a requirement to get building security to update your security pass.
If you don’t have a special storage area, look for a secure space in a carpark, dock or even LAN room, printer area or at your desk (I kept mine at my desk until my place of work built a better facility in the basement). Also check if you need to get special car-park access before or after hours.
3. Showers and Lockers
Do some snooping and find out where your workplace has showers and how you can get access to them. I have known people to shower with buckets or camping showers in standard bathrooms, but if you have trouble finding something, consider asking friends who work nearby or find a local gym. A cheap membership might be worth it for shower and locker access.
In terms of clothing/toiletry storage, lockers are perfect. If you don’t have access to these, you can store your things in the bottom of your desk drawers. Having OCD tendencies, I had the bottom of a filing cabinet sectioned for clean/dirty clothes and hung my shirts/jackets in a cupboard meant to be used for printer paper storage.
4. Clothing and Towels
While you can bring everything in each morning, it is much easier if you can limit this to underwear and do it once a week. Find a local dry cleaner and get them to take care of your major items. Plenty of places in Sydney CBD do deals like “5 shirts for $15”. I have all my shirts, tops and suits dry cleaned (the lovely ladies know me now and give me discounts) and I bring in underwear on Monday morning / take it all home Friday afternoon. My workplace is nice enough to have a towel service – before that, a towel would come in and go out with the underwear.
5. Make Up, Toiletries, Accessories
Grab a toiletries bag and either bring what you need in one day or buy it near your place of work. I have basically just duplicated what I have at home (given I shower 5 times a week at work, I think I go through it quicker at work). Again, my workplace now has hair-dryers, but prior to that I had a travel one in my kitbag that lived in the office.
6. Other Considerations
What happens if you get rained on? Other than making sure you have a waterproof bag/case for your phone, what are you going to do with your wet clothes? This might be as simple as not riding when there is a chance of rain, or find an area to dry your gear. Warm areas such as LAN/server rooms work well, just don’t get caught by the IT guy.
7. Preparation is Key
Take the time to get yourself set up before you start. Bring in what you need before you start riding in. Get yourself set up, organise any additional access you might need, buy yourself a lock and plan your route and timing, leaving a bit of a buffer the first few times.
The other item of preparation which I have not yet mentioned is your wife/husband/partner/kids. Mainly because I don’t have kids and my boyfriend has his own routine which has no dependence on mine. For us it’s just a matter of someone remembering to feed the cat. I’m guessing you can’t treat kids the same way?
Once you get into a rhythm and you have a routine, it becomes incredibly easy. While it seems like a lot at first, it’s really nothing beyond what you would normally organise at home. You might need to get a bit creative in terms of showering, locking up your bike and storing your stuff, but hopefully it’s nothing you can’t work out!