How do you make your bike commute more interesting?

I came across this very interesting blogpost a while back on one of my favourite sites, BikePortland:

“I’ve been bike-commuting for longer than I can remember, and it’s always been a highlight of my day – both directions. But lately, I am feeling completely unmotivated for it. Not talking about other rides – still stoked for those – only the commute to and from work. Not sure what it is – all the Cat 6 types out there? The weather? Bored with riding the same route over and over and over and over and over and…? Not excited about going to work in the morning + plus feeling lethargic after sitting on my butt all day? I’m almost tempted to just start taking the bus, but that’s probably the worst thing I could do – my body needs the exercise, especially after sitting all day. I guess I’ll just have to grind it out, and hope that I snap out of it soon. Anybody else have a similar experience? Curious to hear about it, and/or how you beat it.”

It’s an interesting thought – have you ever got bored by your daily bike commute? Maybe your current ride is a bit “blah”?

Is it all a bit same ol' same ol'? (c/ bicycling.com)

Is it all a bit same ol’, same ol’? (c/ bicycling.com)

There were a few good things suggested by BikePortland to break the monotony, and I’ll list some here:

    • Change your regular route. Perhaps use Google Maps (or your favourite mapping app) to try out a slightly different route. It might be an opportunity to check out some of the new cycle facilities popping up around the city. Now that the Matai St East connection through North Hagley Park has opened, I sometimes go that way to university, instead of my usual route along Riccarton Ave.
    • Change your regular time. If you have some flexibility, perhaps shift your working day to be a bit earlier or later (maybe daylight savings has put your body-clock out of kilter anyway…). Take advantage of quieter traffic perhaps. Or get to enjoy a great sunrise or sunset…
    An inspiring way to start the day (c/ cyclingtips.com.au)

    An inspiring way to start the day (c/ cyclingtips.com.au)

    • Find a friend. Perhaps you can organise to coordinate your ride with a co-worker who lives nearby (or a friend who works nearby). Even if for only part of the ride, it might break the monotony somewhat to have a chat while you ride.
    • Add some music to your ride! Or your favourite inspirational podcast, radio station, whatever. I know there are plenty of people who are derisive about cyclists with earphones, but that always seems a bit rich when you consider the surround-sound environment inside so many cars (and the jury is still out about whether there is an actual safety issue when riding). You can always wear just one earbud if you want a bit more awareness of what’s around you.
    Enjoying the vibe (c/ commutebybike.com)

    Enjoying the vibe (c/ commutebybike.com)

    • Do some observational surveying. How many riders are wearing (or not) lycra or hi-vis? How many drivers can you see playing with their cellphones? How many cats do you pass? Pick something that takes your fancy and start counting! (Make sure you keep an eye on the road as well!)
    • Challenge your ride pace. Maybe it’s time to test your fitness and see if you can beat your best time for your commute. Or perhaps try to keep pace with someone else (without being stalker-ish about it…). Just remember to pay attention to other traffic too; jumping that red light to get your best time isn’t worth it.
    • Change travel modes. It can’t hurt to try something different and you don’t have to be a martyr to the cycling cause. Crappy weather getting you down? Take the bus or catch a lift with someone (maybe even test out using the bus bike-racks for part of your journey). Or as one wag on BikePortland said: “Drive a car for a week. That should cure your funk about biking.”

I guess the key is that there are no real rules to how you do your daily commute (except for maybe getting to work on time!). So why not give a thought about how you might “pimp your commute”!

What other ideas do you have to make your bike commute more fun?

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4 Comments

  • Criggie
    27 September 2015, 7:36 pm

    Sometimes on long boring empty country roads (eg Tram Road) I count the roadside markers… the white ones with a red bit at the top. +1 for each marker I pass, and -1 for each car that passes me.

    Another suggestion – swap bikes with someone for a bit. I’ve let multiple people ride my electric bike while I ride their bikes.

    REPLY
  • biking2work
    27 September 2015, 9:46 pm

    Like that guy on the blog, I’ve had the biking funk but for the last 6 months. I was laid off with a minor injury for 2 weeks just as I was upping my distances and speed. I missed it incredibly but when I started back I couldn’t enjoy it (the English summer did not help). For me at the moment, riding my bike is a purgatorial slog to save on petrol. I can only ride 2 or 3 times a week and at 20km each way for the shortest route it keeps me active. The funny tgi g is that i know that I’d miss it if I stopped but worried that I won’t and get lazy and overweight again so I’m sticking at it.

    So I’ve tried most of the suggestions and they’re good as they’ve kept me going but they soon lose their novelty. Another habit that I’ve gotten into is memorising number plates-you never know when you’ll need that skill out on the roads some days.

    REPLY
  • StrontiumDogNz
    28 September 2015, 6:07 am

    I play Ingress on my bike – http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/christchurch-life/72396807/Ingress-has-transformed-Christchurch-into-a-city-of-portals . It makes the commute about four times as long, with detours through just about every park and reserve in the area, but that’s great for me as my commute is too short to get a decent amount of exercise otherwise.

    REPLY
  • emilymlane
    28 September 2015, 2:09 pm

    I try to get an ike commute in at least once a week. (i.e. I go uni rather than bi). Not exactly fast but it maximises the smiles and people interactions you get. Oh and it is a great way to turn a short commute into some exercise – especially if you are on a 20 inch.

    REPLY

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