The Ultimate Guide To Knowing If You’re Slacker Bike Commuter

 

It was Bill Gates that said: “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

That right there is the very essence of what it means to Slacker bike commute. Is this the really the ultimate Slackers guide to bikes and bike commuting? I’ll be damned if I know, I got to be honest with you. But I do know this. I bike commuted for the best part of 10 years in a whole bunch of different countries and different cities. I guess you could say I was a slacker when it came to riding on week days.

Cycling in flooded city

Now the real question is why did I do it?

I want to say that I bike commuted because it was fun. But I think the truth is that it gave me freedom. The freedom to be different and to do things my way.

Most important to me though was that it sure beat riding busses or subways with all the other miserable people in suits. I used to play a game as I stood waiting at the bus stop or waiting for a Tube that wasn’t crammed. Hardly anyone using public transport during rush hour smiles. Have you ever noticed that?

So why don’t more of us cycle?

And what is a bike commuting slacker anyway. I guess there’s no real definition that fits everyone.

I’ve talked to so many people over the years who have entertained the idea of cycling to work but have convinced themselves that it isn’t for them. There is this idea that commuting to work or just riding in general has to be done like you’re on sort of mission. There is this notion that somehow you have to be super fit to do it. The images of cyclists on TV and the internet all seem to be filled with Lycra covered young thing powering their way up mountain or speeding along roads at the speed of light. And if you’re not one of them, then you apparently have to be some beard wearing skinny jean hipster riding a fixie from the 1950s. To this all I can do is shake my head in wonder.

Cycling business man

But here’s the thing. Remember when cycling used to be fun?

So do I.

For most people who stopped regularly riding in their teens, that’s also where the fun ended. It didn’t for me. Even when I used to bike commute, if it wasn’t fun it wasn’t worth doing.

So without any further rambling about my discontent with the world in general, here is my guide to ultimate slacker commuting and philosophy.

Because image and style mean nothing when met with quiet confidence and true independence of thought.

Cyclist resting with eyes closed

So you know you’re a bike commute slacker when:

You check the weather before you head out…

It is raining? You call in sick. Work will still be there tomorrow of course, but there’s always the danger that day time TV wont.

People ask you…

what bike do you use to commute? You tell them with all honesty: A red one. Because that’s what your rat race defying steed is, red. If you can manage to say it without even the slightest hint of irony, you’ve really managed the whole slacker thing.

You check the weather before you head out…

and it’s a bit windy, so you take the bus instead. Sure the subway will be mobbed, but it’s dry; and cozy. Very cozy.

You might chain your bike up… at night on the railings outside your apartment, and then forget about it for 6 months. If it’s still there next spring, it’s a bonus. If your bike is gone, you can live with the fact it was cheap and you yourself found it beside a garbage can.

Your Bike…

is the same bike you were using when you were at college. So it’s old, and a bit rusty, so what. Are you looking to ride in the Tour De France and take drugs to get into the office faster like Lance Armstrong? Or are you going to work? Your choice of bike really doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. I rode to work for 3 years on a steel bike I found lying beside some garbage cans in London. My next bike was a second hand thing that set back all of $150. Some pro bike commuters sneered at the way the brakes squealed and then sped away like they were racing. Don’t worry about it if it happens to you. Generally speaking you’ll be able to amble up beside them by the time you reach the next set of traffic lights and annoy the Hell out of them with your noisy brakes anyway.

Traffic light for bikes

You stop at traffic lights…

because you’re a Slacker, not a dick. You say hello to the driver waiting beside you at the lights. Hey, it’s a live and let live thing.

Lack of effort on purpose…

because you take the flattest route available even if it means taking an extra 20 minute detour to avoid a hill. Yes, this is a contradiction about taking the most direct route whenever you can, but it’s also about efficiency, and pedaling uphill is not efficient.

You get a flat…

and you just lock your bike up on the nearest railing and catch a ride to work instead, or take the bus. On the way home, if you can be bothered and it isn’t raining you might stop by and gently ride it to the nearest local bike shop to fix. As a bonus you can go and buy some coffee while the local pro mechanic fixes your bike. I mean, could you really be bothered trying to change an inner on the side of the road in the rain? Me neither.

The Local Bike Shop always greets with rolled eyes and says: ‘Hey [insert name here], what have you done to your bike now’, and laughs. It takes a few visits to achieve this kind of relationship, but it pays off.

Your clothing for bike commuting…

is whatever you feel like. Yeah, that’s right. The whole point of Slacker commuting is about maximum efficiency with the minimum of effort. If you’re breaking a sweat while slacker commuting, you’re doing it wrong. Could you be bothered dressing yourself up like a day glow condom to cycle to work? You have to spend 20 minutes getting all your gear together. You have to not care about the smell. You have to have all your work clothes in a bag. Then when you get to work, you have to shower, and peel yourself out of your body spandex. That’s just time could be spent making sure your late for work in the first place.

Riding an old bike

Your bike…

used to belong to your mom. Or Grandmother or Grandfather and only has 3 gears, if you’re lucky. You know people laugh at you when you ride it. You couldn’t care less.

You know all the shortcuts…

sure you could just go ahead and follow the roads or the same route the bus goes, but that’s not enough for you. You know the shortcuts. Yes, exploring new and interesting routes to get you to your destination is fun and all that, but this about efficiency. Why take a detour round anything when you can just go straight through. You still want the fastest way into and out of work. So you spend time figuring out whether you can jump that wall, or have the balls to cross someone garden to get the main road because it will shave 10 minutes of your journey time.

Fresh roast coffee beans

You have to get coffee…

because no one should have to start the day in an office without one. So you make sure your route intersects with a coffee shop that serves decent coffee quickly, and at a reasonable price. Be warned if you cycle to work and also like coffee though. It’s a dangerously short transition to full on beard wearing skinny jean living Hipsterism. One of the main dangers of flirting with Hipsterism is that you might one day consider buying a bike with no brakes.

You own a helmet…

you think. But please, this face, this hair and you want me to wear a helmet? Please…. Also it takes time to put those things on and what are you supposed to do with them when you’re not wearing them? Carrying your helmet around with you all day long is not very efficient.

You check the weather…

and it’s a torrential monsoon like storm outside. Do you call in sick or decide to take a bus? No, you put some shorts on and you head out into the wilds. Days like this were made for slacker commuting. Why? Because it’s fun. Sure, it’s dangerous, but that’s all just part of the adventure. You see a puddle or a stream running across the street? Let’s ride. The commute to work will never be this much fun ever again. Days like this will be one of the few occasions where you don’t mind putting some effort into getting to work.

Man sleeping wearing office clothes

Your clothing for bike commuting…

come straight out of the Slacker bible of life because it’s pretty much what you fell asleep in on the sofa last night watching a Netflix box series. The only other thing you need is some shower in can, and you’re good to go.

You have no issues stopping off and walking your bike home…

No you don’t have a flat, and there’s nothing wrong with the bike. Slacker commuting isn’t a race after all. You just feel like walking.

You do upgrade your bike but…

the most expensive accessory you’ve ever bought for the bike you found in a dumpster is your cup holder. It keeps your coffee hot, and that’s awesome. Beware the encroachment of Hipsterism into your life.

Man with a Fixie bike in park

You get a flat…

and you keep on riding anyway. Why? Because you’re almost at work anyway and you can worry about it later. This is how slackers ride. Just take it even easier than you already are, watch for bumps in the road, and ignore the Hipsters and Lycra freaks. This is the essence of Slackerism. You know really you should have a pump and a spare tube or repair kit with you when you ride, but you just never quite got round to it. You probably also bought some of that stuff you can inject in your tires that make them immune to the effects of punctures; you just never got round to actually using it. In your head you think: ‘This is why God gave us Local Bike Shops.’ And of course you like to support your local economy for those times you don’t really have much of a choice.

People ask you…

how many gears you have on your bike. You say 5. The person who asked says but it looks like you got way more than that there. You say, maybe, but I only use 5.

You don’t ride…

with other riders who want to turn everything into a race. Because you’re not slacker commuting to go as fast as you can. You’re slacker commuting so you can wander into work just before you’re legally obliged to be there.

Broken bike

When something breaks on your bike…

it doesn’t really bother you. If a gear sticks or jams and won’t budge you just carry on riding. You learn to adapt, improvise and overcome. If the pedals still generate forward momentum when you turn them then you’re still ok.

You are getting fitter…

but it’s just a byproduct of what you do. You don’t really think about it. Getting fit was never the intention when you started Slacker commuting.

You are losing weight…

but it’s just a byproduct of what you do. You don’t really think about it. Losing weight was never the intention when you started Slacker commuting.

You don’t use Strava because…

you were into it when it first came out, but now everyone uses it. If you do use a fitness tracker you use one no one else you know uses, and then only if you remember to turn it on. Sometimes you forget to turn it off as well.

Old bicycle against sunset

You don’t use Strava because…

you see other people taking their life in their hands trying to be KOM for an early morning rat race dash. Why? Why would anyone rush to go to work? These are the same bikers who break red lights, swerve in front of buses, record fights with motorists to post on YouTube and seem to be really angry at the world in general. These are the type of bikers other bikers like to hate as well. Both you and the polyester suited salesman in the Ford saloon beside you actually both shaking your head at the Muppet. Totally bizarre.

You actually own a really good bike…

but you only use at the weekend when you actually want to do some serious riding. Why would you lock a $1500 bike up against a railing or outside the office where it could just be stolen?

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