Commuting by bike can be a daunting task, even for a seasoned cyclist. Getting to work via two wheels can mean showing up slightly sweaty and out of breath, and riding in rush hour traffic can be scary no matter how good you are at bike handling. Still, for every excuse to skip your ride commute, there are great reasons to bike to work. It's been shown to ease stress, it keeps you in shape, it's a great way to sneak in a ride into an otherwise-packed day, it saves money, and it's environmentally friendly. And in honor of Bike to Work Day, we've come up with seven ways to make your ride to work even easier.
Plan Ahead, at Home
Unless you have a short (less than 15 minutes) commute, you'll likely want to ride in one set of clothes and change at work—especially as temperatures rise. Aim for clothes that won't wrinkle in your bag, or, hang them in a dry-cleaning bag, then roll it up gently before placing it in a basket or pannier. No shower at work? Bring some baby wipes and deodorant to freshen up quickly.
Ditch the Backpack
A backpack traps the heat on your back, which helps create that giant sweat stain all over your shirt. Thankfully, you can now get stylish bike accessories like panniers, bags that hook over your rear rack and don't look goofy when you tote them into the office. Or try a messenger bag, which will give your body some breathing room.
Plan Ahead, at Work
Know where you're going to stash or lock your bike (and if you're locking it, make sure you remember to pack a lock!) before you ride in. That way, you don't a) clomp in with your bike, only to get shouted at by your boss, or b) roll around for 15 minutes looking for the safest place to lock it and end up late for work. Stash non-cycling shoes, a spare shirt (for that day you forget to pack it), and deodorant (you can never have enough) in your desk to help avoid embarrassing situations. No one wants to spend the day clacking over to the copier in road shoes.
Remember: It's Still a Ride
Just because it's a work commute doesn't mean you'll magically avoid flats. Make sure you bring everything you would on a normal ride, including spare tubes and a mini-pump. And if you tend to get roped into working late, be sure to have a good bike light stashed as well. Having a "commuter kit" in your work bag saves time, as opposed to having to assemble and reassemble everything daily.
Make It a Workout
If you don't have time to commute and train in the same day, turn your commute into a workout, complete with interval training. If you'd rather not be sweaty or exhausted at the office, make your ride home your high-intensity segment.
Treat Yo' Self
If you're having trouble committing to commuting (say that five times fast), consider starting a "commuter fund." Every day you ride to work, stash a few dollars in a jar—make it a serious game by socking away your savings in gas money. Use that cash to get yourself some fancier commuter gear, whether it's for your bike (panniers, fenders), your feet (funky commuter shoes) or your bod (a sweet tweed blazer or stealthy rain jacket).
this article originally appeared on bicycling.com