I commute, you can follow suit

If I can bike to ASU in the scorching, humid monsoon weather of Tempe, AZ, you can do it, too.  I have been biking along Rural Road from the north side of the lake to make the 2 mile commute to campus this summer. Here is my advice to you based on my experience.

Don’t expect it to be easy. There will be days when the last thing you want to do is make the ride, but you will be proud of yourself when you do it.  If you commit to riding 4 days every week, as a goal, you can give yourself a day to carpool when you need a car or can’t bear to make the ride.  Also, even though the ride may be long, tiring, or hard, it is great exercise for you and it will get easier with practice.

  • If it helps, you may want to remember that biking is saving you gas and parking money and it’s carbon-neutral. I also find it motivating to remember that no matter how much I am biking, someone else is biking harder, faster and farther.
  • Make sure you have an appropriate bike.  I switched from using my old, small mountain bike to a new, larger women’s hybrid bike.  At five feet and without much serious biking experience, I needed to get a new bike especially for me that fit right and that I knew I could count on.  However, if you feel comfortable doing so, you could find plenty of bikes for better prices online.  My advice is to consult with someone who knows bikes first to help you pick out the best one for you. Shop around at different stores to find the best bikes and the best deals. Don’t forget to look for coupons!
  • Make sure you have a good lock. Last summer I left my bike on campus overnight occasionally. As a consequence I had a tire stolen, and then both the frame and another tire stolen.  If you must leave your bike overnight, leave it somewhere secure, such as in a residential complex or in a building if you have access.  According to the ASU police, never use just a cable lock. These are the easiest to break through. Stick with the sturdy U locks- they are much harder to damage.
  • Make sure to register any bike that you ride on campus at bike.asu.edu so it can be recovered and returned to you if it is stolen.
  • Ride with a partner. Try to find someone near you who has a similar commuting routine as you.  It is more enjoyable to ride with someone else, it is safer, it keeps you motivated to have someone else willing to bike with you, and if they are a little faster than you it helps you challenge yourself.
  • Check out bus and lightrail routes. You may find that you can mix a combination of mass transportation with your biking to make an easier commute, especially if you don’t live within a reasonable biking distance from campus.  Try to judge how far you are capable of biking if you live pretty far, and find a way to make up the difference with mass transportation.
  • Safety first! Always wear a helmet, sun block, and sun glasses. These protect your head, skin, and eyes, and are especially important when you are biking every day.  It is a good habit to get into.  I also recommend that you always stay on the side of caution and never take chances around cars.  Never assume that the motorist sees you.
  • Check out more tips and tricks for a positive cycling experience:
    • Plan in about half an hour of time for cooling off and freshening up
    • Chew gum during the ride to keep your mouth from getting too dry
    • Rehydrate once you reach your destination and find a cool place to decompress
    • You may wonder what to do about your hair if you are wearing a helmet.  I like to put my hair in a temporary braid or wear it down when I have the helmet on, and I usually put it in a high bun when I am cooling down which gives it some waves.  You can bring supplies or hair products in your bag with you if you like to do more to your hair
    • Bring a mini fan in your bag to help you cool off
    • Wear workout clothes for the ride, and bring clothes for the day to change into.  Use the clothes you biked in to dry yourself off before changing.  Bring a change of shoes, jewelry, and makeup with you to put on to freshen up, or even keep them at your destination if possible.  I keep a pair of sandals and some basic makeup in my desk drawer in case I don’t bring some with me
    • I suggest bringing oil blotting sheets for your face
    • Drink lots of water throughout the day
    • Carry around your bike helmet proudly!

If you would like to shower when you arrive from your commute, there are several showers that are available to you on campus:

  • Wrigley Hall.  You access it through a clearly labeled door on the west side of the southern half of the first floor breezeway.  You just need your SunCard to gain access
  • Engineering Center C in the bathrooms opening to the outside along the corridor on the western side of the Engineering Center buildings
  • Student Recreation Center.  You need to be a member of the SRC
  • Biodesign
  • Fulton
  • San Tan (Polytechnic)
  • YMCA (Downtown)

Try the biking option when planning your route with Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/

If you know of other open locker rooms or bathrooms that have showers, please share their locations and any limitations in the comments section below.  Be sure to also share your own commuting tips and experiences in the space below as well.

By Beth Magerman