Rookie Commuter: Without a Car or a Clue

Ideally, I’d be giving up driving for the health benefits of biking, or perhaps the environmental impact, or maybe just to look better in my new shorts– shorts my boss insists show too much thigh.  I don’t think they show enough.
Instead, the decision to move off the road and into the bike lane was made for me by my empty bank account.  Unlike looking at myself in the mirror, there are no angles that improve the outlook of my checking balance.  It’s just a double digit number, apologetically looking at me from my bank statement as if to say, “And you still haven’t bought groceries this week, remember?”  So, as my rusty, baby blue Toyota Corolla is stored away, I’ll begrudgingly join the wave of commuter bicyclists.

My dearly beloved, leaving me because I can't afford to buy her nice things.

My dearly beloved, leaving me because I can’t afford to buy her nice things.

But before I commit to sweaty arrivals at every destination, I have some questions I need answered.  

Questions like, do I need to wear specific biking shorts?  I realize the extra padding is there for a reason, but I just think I’m a bit young to be wearing adult diapers.  And do I have to don a skin-tight shirt with strange pockets for my daily commute?  Sure, the aerodynamics might save me a few seconds, but at what cost?  A chafed nipple?  And another chafed nipple?
In addition to the outfit, there are gaps in my bicycling knowledge that I would like to have filled before I give up my car.  How do I change a flat tire without sobbing on the side of the road?  Should I wear a helmet?  Or just enjoy the wind in my hair and possibly the pavement on my skull?  Are there rules for biking at night?  In the rain?  The snow?  And if not laws, perhaps a few suggestions?  


Buried, forgotten, but now a necessity. Just the thought of digging it out makes me tired, let alone the actual riding.

I’ve decided to document my journey into this unknown world for the benefit of others who are dealing with bouncing checks or those who are just tempted by the fresh air of a morning commute– on a bike, not through a rolled-down window.  I need to get my bike tuned up, find a more comfortable seat, learn traffic laws, and reduce my overall riding stupidity.  If someone needs to make a fool of themselves, it should be me, not you.  You have important things to do.  Me?  I’m just a recent college graduate, working at a job scooping ice cream, soon without a car to get there.  A rookie commuter, if you will.

Becca Heaton

Becca Heaton is the program coordinator and editor for BikeLife Cities' city magazines and website. An avid cyclist, Becca is "embarrassed" to share that she has 5 different bikes... and she rides them all!

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