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The bicycle diaries: five things I learned on day one of Bike to Work Week

Yours truly, arriving at Metrotown for work. [1]

Yours truly, arriving at Metrotown for work.

It’s Bike to Work Week [2] this week! And as today is the first time I’ve biked to work, I thought I’d share five lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Check the weather before you go!

Knowing the forecast helps you equip yourself appropriately for your ride. For example, I saw it wasn’t supposed to rain much today, so I could wear some water-resistant boots for my ride.

2. Dressing in layers really helps.

Boy, does your body temperature fluctuate throughout your journey. You’re freezing when you start out, but as you keep pedaling, you get warmer and warmer—and if you hit a hill, you’re burning up! So if you wear layers that you can take off as your ride progresses, this can help you stay at a comfortable temperature.

3. Really, you don’t have to bike on main roads to get where you’re going.

Me on the 10th Ave route. I took off that jacket as I got much warmer. [3]

Me on the 10th Ave route. I took off that jacket as I got much warmer.

There’s a really strong network of bike routes throughout the municipalities, many in parallel to main roads like Broadway or Granville.

These bike routes are on low-traffic streets or are entirely off street completely separated from cars. Plus, lots of them are beautiful to ride on.

I took the 10th Ave route this morning—just look at those trees. The B.C. Parkway along the Expo Line route also takes you through Trout Lake, which is just gorgeous.

Check out cyclevancouver.ubc.ca [4] for a planning tool that figures out your trip using these off-street routes. Also, TransLink has map resources [5] that document all the bike routes in the region.

4. I am apparently burning over 800 calories biking to and from work today.

My stats from the Bike to Work Week trip logger. [6]

My stats from the Bike to Work Week trip logger.

Your experience may certainly vary on this one, but the Bike to Work Week calculator says I’m going to burn 871 calories on my bike ride to and from work today! Woop: time to eat some junk food!

As a side note, it’s taking me roughly an hour and 15 minutes to bike from Vancouver to Metrotown in Burnaby, while it normally takes about 45 minutes by transit.

But the extra hour on the round trip is time I’d often spend exercising anyway, so in the future I could accomplish my workout by just biking to work a few times a week. Hmmm…

5. Biking to work doesn’t mean you end up looking like a mess.

Before actually biking to work, I was expecting to arrive at my destination drenched in sweat and completely unpresentable. Which didn’t happen at all. (Your mileage may vary with this based on your specific ride, of course.)

What I found was that the cold fall wind and dressing in layers really helped me stay reasonably cool throughout my ride. I brought a brush to fix my helmet hair, but after that I was basically good to go straight into work. I didn’t even have to change my clothes. Who knew?

(Of course, I haven’t yet been riding in the rain yet… so we’ll see how that goes! Also, many thanks to Michelle Candido for riding with me this morning and taking the photos you see above.)