If you hate being stuck on a crowded bus or train, riding a bike to college can be a great alternative. It’s cheap, it’s good for your health and it can get you to class faster than waiting in traffic – what’s not to like? All you need to do is make sure you’re cycling-savvy before you get on your bike. Here’s what you need to know.
- Choose your bag wisely
Heavy text books, your laptop, folders, papers, food, spare clothing – you need to carry a lot of items on your college commute. Many cyclists opt for a simple rucksack: it’s convenient, you can carry it around with you all day, and it’s light. But if you have a lot to take with you each day, you may want to consider extra storage, such as a back bike rack, a handlebar bag or a basket. For maximum storage, you’re best off with two panniers sitting beside each wheel to balance the weight.
Whatever type of bag you get, make sure it’s waterproof and that you’ve got the right accessories to keep it secure!
- Pick up some clothing maintenance skills
If you’re cycling to college every day, you’re bound to get a bit messy at some point. Your chain could come off on a muddy uphill cycle, leaving you wondering how to remove grease stains from the bicycle chain, mud stains, and sweat stains from your clothes all at the same time. You might wear through your jeans, leaving a hole. You might fall off. These things happen!
To avoid trudging into a lecture looking less-than-fresh, be prepared for mishaps. Make sure you have a small clothing repair kit with you when you cycle – a needle, thread, and a small bottle of stain remover can all help you a lot. It’s also important to find out how to deal with the most common cycling wardrobe problems: learn how to remove grease stains or sew up tears at short notice, just in case.
- Know how to care for your bike
Make sure your bike is in safe working condition. If you’ve not used it in a long time, or if it’s second-hand, take it to a bike repair shop for a full service.
It’s also a good idea to have a basic bike tool kit around, and to learn how to fix easy problems yourself. Find out how to fix a punctured tyre, tighten up bolts, adjust your seat height or fix a loose chain, just in case. There are many YouTube tutorials online to teach you these skills. That said, if in doubt, always consult a professional.
- Keep your bike safe
Get high quality locks to keep your bike safe. If you have quick release wheels, you’ll want to have a D-lock for the frame and a cable lock for the wheels. Avoid using a cable or combination lock for the frame, as these are easy to break.
Whenever possible, park your bike an area that is covered by CCTV, as this deters thieves and also provides hard evidence if your bike does get stolen. During rainy season, choose a place that is sheltered – too much exposure to water can rust the chain.
This might sound like a lot to think about, but remember: cycling is one of the most convenient ways of getting to college. It can require a bit of planning and maintenance, but it’s also fun, fast, and cheap once you get started. So follow these tips, and enjoy a breezy, laid back journey to college every morning!