Cycling for Wellness: Stage 1



Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Having discussed last week some issues regarding the feasibility of riding a bicycle to work, including distance to cycle, facilities in the workplace to make it doable, and routes to take, we now move on to the following topics:

a. What you need to know before you ride your bicycle to work

Before moving forward with your plans, remember: ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET. No matter if cycling to the corner store, across the village, to the nearby restaurant, to your friend’s house, across town, or across Metro Manila.  Never ride a bicycle without a helmet.

Now, having drilled into your planning that you need a helmet, we can move forward.

Last week, I talked about planning a route to bike to work.  Ideally you should have at least two routes to give you options.  Try to pass the roads you plotted (using a car) to see if it’s feasible to use it as a route. I suggest looking for a route with minimal vehicular traffic.  Or, in the alternative, look for routes where vehicular traffic is slow (thus focus on secondary roads, and try, as much as possible, to avoid main roads).

Having plotted a route, try riding it on a weekend.  There’ll be fewer people (and cars) on the road so it’s easier for you, and less stressful on your part because you’re not rushing to get to work.  Do it at a leisurely pace.  Don’t forget money for food on the way, a valid ID, and your mobile phone.

Always hydrate.  Don’t take big gulps of water (you’ll end up wanting to pee after).  Try sips of water, at no longer than 15-minute intervals.  Dehydration is your enemy.  If you drink only when you get thirsty, dehydration will have already started.

b. Managing your expectations

Will you enjoy your first bicycle ride?  I hope so, but honestly, I don’t think so.  You’ll get a thrill out of it, for sure, but chances are, you’ll have to learn a few things during the first few times you bike to work. Many get stressed because they’re doing it for the first time and are usually nervous and don’t really know what to expect.

From the little things like what apparel works best for you (don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts.  You’ll thank me later for this advice.  Put your underwear with your clothes in your backpack) to actually studying the road you’ll pass and being aware of potholes (so you can avoid them the next time), the first few rides will undoubtedly be a learning experience for you.  Don’t expect it to be a perfect experience.  But hopefully it’ll be a fun and healthy activity, and should motivate you to do it again.  But before you know it, with each time your cycle to work, you’ll learn a thing or two, and soon, you’ll have the knowledge and understanding on how to manage your bicycle commute to work.

Take notes of your thoughts shortly after your bicycle rides (What to avoid, etc.).  It’ll help you plan out your next rides and how you can prepare and/or adjust better.

c. Setting goals

Okay… This is what many need to understand.  You have to have a plan on what goals you want to achieve.  Then you have to break down your goals into stages.

For example.  If you plan to ride your bicycle to work 3X a week, you don’t do that on the first week.  That would be suicide.  You have to do it in stages not only for health reasons (specially for those who do not regularly exercise), so your body can slowly build up the endurance.  Another reason is for your body to get used to the pollution.  Based on my personal experience, I tried to cycle to work one time. First week I did it three days (M-W-F).  I got sick the week after.  Not because of the physical strain on my body, but because I wasn’t able to adjust to the pollution.  You know, when you’re in the intersection and the light is red, you’re right in the middle of the motorcycles and jeepneys.  When the light turns green, everyone tries to move forward the fastest.  Naturally, when that happens, all those motorcycles rev and a lot of those fumes go straight to your face, and you breathe it all in.  You have to make your body adjust to that.  Or, as I said above, take note of it, and plan a way on how to avoid those fumes…

Ideally, you’ll have:

Short-term goal – What you want to achieve in 1-3 months

Medium-term goal – What you want to achieve in six months

Long-term goal – What you see yourself doing in a year or longer

Next week we’ll discuss:

  1. Choosing what bicycle to use.
  2. Basic tools and equipment to have before you cycle to work.
  3. Backpack or messenger bag?

If you have any questions, suggestions or tips which I can include in next week’s discussion, please feel free to email me at, or contact me on Twitter at: