Commuting tips for women

In what will be her last column for Full Sus, Jeanne Louise Wiese offers some commuting advice for the female cycling commuters out there.

As discussed in my previous articles about bike commuting, cycling to work has enormous benefits to the physical and mental well-being of the commuter. I would have to say though that it might be a little bit easier for the male counterpart to pull off the daily commuting in any kind of weather over any kind of distance. But after some months of commuting myself I have a few tips for the ladies which might make it worth the effort to keep those good vibrations going throughout the winter months as well.

So here is some experienced advice:

1.    Plan your route

You can use one of many online tools out there to trace, track and navigate yourself through the streets between your home and the office. However, it is important not to always select the shortest routes but to aim at using dedicated cycle routes as far as practicably possible. You can also consider a couple of different routes to keep things interesting and have a look at some networks such as Strava to see which routes other people are cycling in the area. If you are unfamiliar with an area, always consider cycling the route over a weekend with a friend, boyfriend or husband to scout some potential hazards along the way.

2.    Join the club

That is the club of commuters. It is always best to ride with other people who work in the same office park or area that you do. It makes the commute safer, ensures an extra hand when you have technical problems and makes for some good conversation along the way. Always be aware of your safety and that of the others using the cycling lane or road with you and adhere to the traffic rules at all times.

3.    Daylight saving

As far as possible, ride during daylight hours or in a group  if it’s dark.  Ensure that you always have a white light in front and red light at the back of your bike and also consider taping some reflecting strips to your bike’s frame (these can be bought at any hardware store and cut into strips to fit your bike).

4.    Maintenance 101

Do you have that one cycling friend who still owes you a favour from the time you set him up with a gorgeous date for a wedding? Now is the time to cash in those IOU’s and learn some basic maintenance and repair techniques, and then always ensure you have the basic bike tool kit at hand. I don’t always want to carry all the tools in the back pockets of my cycling shirt, so I invested in a proper saddle bag to carry some basic tools, I’d suggest you do the same. But always check that the saddle bag has no loose hanging Velcro strips which can pick at your cycling pants and rip them over time.

Tool Essentials:

  • Spare tube
  • Mini pump or a bomb
  • Latex gloves to protect your hands when you need to fix a puncture
  • Tyre levers
  • A good multi-tool

5.    Project runway

We are lucky enough to have showers at our offices with lockers where I can leave some things and lock it up. So if you have a similar setup, you can ensure to leave some shampoo, conditioner, a brush, small hair dryer, towel, baby wipes, deodorant, extra make-up essentials and some spare underwear. Always pack your bag the night before so that you can just get up and go the next morning. If you need to shower at a gym close to your offices you can invest in some travel size containers for your toiletries that you can keep in your backpack at all times.

 6.    Winter essentials

Commuting in winter might not be the thing to get you out of bed on a cold morning, but believe me, once you are out the door and on your bike, breathing the crisp clean winter air, you will love it. It’s best to get into the groove of commuting in the summer months and then have your routine set out and fellow commuters set up for the more difficult dark days. For these I would suggest a good pair of winter full finger gloves, toe-warmers, arm warmers and knee warmers. They might seem like silly additional pieces of scrap material, but they do their job really well.

 7.    Don’t forget to have fun

Most important thing is to make your commuting experience a fun one. By staying safe and getting to know your neighbourhood and fellow commuters, you experience another world of outdoor enthusiasts who choose to let their hair down before and after work and still put in their daily shifts to contribute to our economy and also get to contribute to a global movement to shrink our impact on the environment.

Happy commuting ladies!

Sus the Thanks to JL

The Full Sus editorial team would like to extend their thanks to Jeanne Louise for all the great conservation columns over the last two years! She’s helped us all be more environmentally conscious and you never know when all the plant names you learnt in her column will come in handy!

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