Flashback Friday: How do you make your bike commute more interesting?

With the shift to a new house nearly a year ago, my commute to work changed. However, I don’t always takes the same route to or from there; sometimes due to the traffic at different times, sometimes to get in a few extra kms of biking, and sometimes just for a change in scenery. It’s one example of how you don’t need to do the same routine every time you jump on your bike – and this blogpost (originally from Sep 2015) gives a few more ideas of how you can “spice up your ride” if it’s all getting a bit humdrum…

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?

2 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: How do you make your bike commute more interesting?”

  1. Veloviewer tiles. If you record rides on Strava, this shows 2km squares that you have passed through on any activity.



    You can see where I did a ride to Akaroa, or Oxford. It also gives your biggest “cluster” of connected tiles, and your biggest “square” which is the blue 9×9.

    So I’m motivated to ride around Lincoln and up Springs Road to fill-in squares for example.

    There are some tiles you can’t get, like the marsh around Lake Ellesmere where there are no roads, or some of the Port Hills where its just walking tracks.

    If you’re recording to strava then its probably already got your map – check it out at https://statshunters.com/heatmap/tiles

  2. The observational surveying is so gooood. Whenever I forget my ear buds, I do that. There is so much around us that it is impossible to get really bored.
    Listen to podcasts or audiobooks while riding 🙂 but obviously carefully.
    After years of biking to work or uni, I developed my senses and now I can listen to podcasts without being careless about the road. I usually pause whatever I am listening to if I need to cross a very crowded road with no traffic lights or when I need to turn right. Because I use wireless headphones it just requires one small touch on my ear to pause it.

    Ps. I just found this website and love it <3

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