Friday, 11 May 2012

Be prepared

One of the complications I face as a cycle commuter is that I don’t always work from the same office.  If I did, it would be great in one respect as all of the “heavy stuff” (laptop, charger, notebooks etc.) could be left at the office all of the time.  However, the nature of the work I do means that, from time to time, I have to spend a day or two on a client’s site working from there.  I am lucky at the moment though in that the client I work with most is in the same city as our company’s office and only ten minutes from the train station.  Even so, using my bike means that a little judicious forethought is required in order to be successful. 

Basically it all comes down to planning or, as every good boy scout knows: “being prepared”.   I have an ongoing quest to find the best way of carrying luggage on my Dahon but that’s a subject for another post.  Suffice to say, resultant damp back aside, my favoured option at present is a decent rucksack.  I use one that is (just) big enough to get everything in if I need to.  Thus, even on lighter days, I use the same bag keeping all of the "everyday" things (tools, first aid kit, wallet, iPod etc.) in one place.  I know full well that if I constantly decamped my kit between different bags, eventually something essential would get left behind!  My load varies between occasionally very full (a complete change of clothes, all of my cycling and office kit plus laptop, charger and lunch) and very light (empty lunch-box and every day cycling stuff) 

I manage pretty well by leaving things at the office where I can.  I don’t need clean work trousers daily so leave them folded in my desk drawer and most days my smart shoes and the laptop stay there as well.  With the client being so near our office, sometimes I leave the heavier things there after a day on site. After cycling to our office the following day, I pop by the client's in a borrowed company car to pick my stuff up again.

The single most important practice in my opinion is getting things ready THE NIGHT BEFORE!  That means bike clothes ready, work shirt ironed, lunch made, bag packed and even (sometimes) breakfast things laid out ready for a quick and organised get away.  It sounds obsessive (maybe I am) but it gives me the peace of mind to know that I’ll have everything that I need with me the following day.  It takes a bit of an effort of will to be honest but pays dividends with reduced stress in the morning.

I barely notice the additional weight of the rucksack on lighter days when I only need to take lunch and a clean shirt.  And on the heavier days like yesterday?  Well sometimes they are unavoidable so you just have to cram it all in, grit your teeth and go for it.  I really don’t notice any difference in how I’m balanced on the bike either.  Ok I’m not lugging Royal Marine-esque loads here but believe me, it weighs enough!  Just like riding in the rain though, it’s never as bad once you’re doing it as you imagine it might be beforehand. 

So just click down an extra gear, think of all the calories you’re burning and enjoy the ride just the same. 

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