National Bike to Work Day - Try It, You'll Like It

April showers bring not only May flowers, but May also heralds the official start of “get outside and do something” weather. Now is the time to get that bicycle out of the garage, pump up the tires, and go for a ride. If you're out for a ride, why not kill two birds with one stone, and instead of driving to work, take your bike! May 15th is National Bike To Work Day, so should you decide to take your bike to your workplace, you certainly won't be alone. In the United States alone, from the year, the number of bicycle commuters grew by more than 47 percent from 2000 to 2011.

Why, biking to work, that's a great idea, you might be thinking. But unless you've already been doing a lot of bicycling this year, a little prep work is likely in order.

First, if you haven't gotten your bike out of the garage in a few months (or years...I don't judge), give it a thorough visual inspection. Inflate the tires and add a little grease to the chain and wheels as necessary. Take the bike for a spin around the block and make sure everything sounds and feels right. If not, and you aren't sure of the problem, take your bike to a bicycle shop for a proper tune-up.

Then, make sure you've got all all the necessary equipment. A helmet is an absolute must, and depending on where you live, required by law, and you should have a headlight and taillight, preferably the oscillating kind. Even in broad daylight, you should have these on.

You should also carry a water bottle – bicycling can be thirsty work – and healthy snack bars or protein bars aren't a bad idea, either, if you've got some distance to travel.

One of the best pieces of equipment you can use is a simple rubber band to keep your right pants leg tight against your calf, or you could simply tuck your pants leg into your sock. Yes, it might look a little dorky, but at least you won't have to worry about getting your pants getting chewed up by your gears.

Once you're ready to travel, pick a route, which doesn't have to be your normal commute, especially on the return trip. Take note of potential traffic congestion and bike-friendly roads. Consider going the long way and traveling through a part of town you don't see very often.

Biking to work offers many benefits. Obviously, you'll be saving on gas money, and a little early morning exercise will help get the blood flowing and have you ready to jump into work. Riding home, you get to decompress and work off some stress in a good way – and not be stuck in rush hour traffic.

If you're worried about getting all sweaty before work, many forward-thinking workplaces off an on-site shower, or you can simply carry your work clothes in a gym bag or backpack and change once you get to work. Sweating shouldn't be a problem in the morning half of the commute, when temperatures are cooler.

So get that bike out of storage and give bike commuting a try. You just might find that you like it, and if you keep doing it, you'll feel better, look better, and work better.

Dave Meddish, Healthy Goods

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