Finally spring is right around the corner. This new season brings about great changes! Daylight savings is leaving us with more dusk light, the weather is above freezing regularly, and the snow is melting away. The changes also happen in daily life, and one of those big ones might be the way you commute. Winter is a tough time and many of us will choose to commute by car, but now we have more options. Commuting by bicycle in the early spring is a great way to change up your old routine and get out of a winter funk. Spring commuting also faces some challenges, but they won't be faced alone! The 5 tips below are just a start, but they will get you going.
Fenders are the first range of protection for you and your bike from the exciting new changes that spring brings. Puddles, sand, mud, and more puddles are generally the biggest enemy from March onward. Fenders keep you clean while riding your bicycle, eliminating the dreaded skunk stripe of mud up your backside. They also help keep the bicycle itself clean, keeping excessive dirt, sand, and water away from the drivetrain and other moving parts.
My beautiful model Matt showing off his Planet Bike fenders!
The time change should be called the "let's confuse everyone about what time they should wake up because it is way too dark in the morning change. Anyways, the time change signals a change in daylight hours. Longer nights are nice, but darker mornings become more dangerous. Headlights and taillights are key! Some of my favorites are Light and Motion's urban line, Planet Bikes taillights, and Knog's super cute line of lights.
Some Light and Motion lights...
...paired with the next necessity..
LUBES AND CLEANERS! ohmy!
Wet, salty, sandy roads are a dismal place for a bike and it's moving parts. The first line of defense is a good lube for the chain of your bike. This lube should be applied at least once a week if not more. This will prevent rust build-up, premature wear, and ultimately breakage! The video below shows the easiest process for lubing the chain. Also you don't need a bike stand, just somewhere to place the bike wheel of the bike so the pedals can spin freely backward, a doorway or desk work pretty well.
As far as what kind of lubes to use I will stick with a wet lube from Finish-Line during the soggy March and April months and switch to the 1-step cleaner and lube from Finish-Line during summer. The next step for keeping your bike running smoothly is some cleaners. Simple Green bike cleaner is a gentle degreaser that is great to use all over the bike. During spring I wash my bike bi-weekly. I will spray Simple Green all over the bike and scrub off with a soft-bristled brush, followed with a rinse. After this you will always want to lube the chain and moving parts.
While fenders are a great addition to keep puddles and mud off of you they won't do so much during a down-pour. This is where bolstering up your wardrobe will be fun! When I started commuting my rain-jacket quickly became my favorite piece of clothing. I liked the nice hood that fit over my helmet, and instead of having to bring a change of clothes I was dry. Over the years I have added rain pants and boots. The pants are oversized O2 rainpants that will fit over anything I am wearing (i am actually wearing a dress under this outfit).
The boots are a find from a garage sale for a quarter. The one thing I did splurge on way my jacket. The cycling specifics of the jacket cannot be beat, such as longer arms and a drop-tail to accommodate the cycling position, ventilation in the back to prevent overheating, and a hood made to work with helmets.
Any rain jacket made for cycling should have these features but some of my favorites are the Northface Downspout jacket and Gore Bike Wear Alp-X 2.0 Jacket. Some pants I have been lusting over are the Gore Bike Wear Countdown Gore-Tex Pants.
An added plus is that these two extra pieces of clothes pack down very small if you don't need to wear them both directions. So instead of bringing a whole new outfit, keep what you want to wear dry under a protective water-proof outer shell of cute jackets, pants, and boots!
Jacket and pants: all rolled up and ready to go!
Last, but not least, my favorite tip is a positive attitude!! Hopefully the longer days help with a good mood, but commuting everywhere is also a great treat. Even when the headwind beats on you all the way to work, just remember you will have a tailwind home! Also conquering the rain storm on the way home because you were prepared deserves a high-five! Commuting makes me more aware of what is around me and really keeps me on my toes, therefore setting the tone for the rest of the day. A happy commute=a happy day! Once you start pedaling there really is no stopping you, so just get out there and tackle it day by day!
Spring has sprung!