It’s been a couple of months since I last rode my bike to work. I’m back on the saddle now, checking my essential list of things to bring. I’m kicking off Season 4 of my #bike2work adventures in a brand new location in Pasig City. It’s great to be back flying! 😉

When word got around in the office about decent bike parking and shower facilities in our new location, a lot of colleagues got interested in doing bike commuting as well. Who wouldn’t, given the sorry state of transport systems in Manila?

I thought of coming up with a “recipe” of important things to bring when bike commuting. This is a list of what works for me, and it will depend on each person to customize stuff as s/he sees fit. I hope this helps anyone who is considering biking to work soon.

Important Things to bring for the Ride

In a nutshell, you’ll need three essential items that will be important in your bike to work:

  1. Bike
  2. Standard Toolkit
  3. Protective Gear

Your bike

Dahon Vitesse D7 bike in folded form

Obviously! I use my trusty four-year old Dahon Vitesse D7 for my bike commute. It’s still debatable which kind of bike is best for bike commuting, but portability-wise, it’s a folding bike, hands down. In my earliest days of bike commuting to work, I was still struggling with bike first aid and fixing my tire, sometimes I ended up taking a cab to work to catch meetings at work. Nifty!

Bike standard toolkit

It’s essential that any bike commuter knows his/her way with the bike! With the many hazards found in roads in Manila, you can never be too certain that you won’t encounter problems on your commute. Gather your tools and learn how to do the most common bike repairs (e.g., tire patching).

essential collection of tools for repairing the bike during bike commutes
Tools you should always bring: (L-R) Tire levers, patch kit, multi-tool, wrench (14″), hex key, and portable bike pump
  1. Bike pump
    1. always, always, always make sure that your bike’s tires have the right pressure, every day. If you’re doing it for your car, you should do the same for your bike.
  2. Patch kit
    1. usually costing only ₱30 – 60 from your favorite bike shop.
  3. Tire levers
    1. quite helpful to easily remove / replace the tire on the rim
  4. Repair tools
    1. hex key (“allen”) wrench
    2. multi-tool

Protective gear

When you get out of the house, you bring with yourself things that will be protect you from the elements – umbrellas, sunscreen, medicine, etc. The same goes for biking to work.

biker wearing yellow Nutcase helmet and balaclava
Protect yourself from the elements, rain or shine!
  1. Helmet
    1. always keep in mind: No helmet, No ride!
  2. Mask
    1. balaclava, Totobobo™ masks, or even the typical 3M masks sold in drugstores. You wouldn’t want to inhale too much of that smog enveloping Manila, no? Some masks may be a bit more expensive, but treat them as some kind of insurance against illnesses.
  3. Headlights and rear lights
rear bike light

By the time you log off from the office, it’s probably pretty dark. Aside from avoiding city ordinances’ penalties on not using lights, it’s mostly an issue of visibility and safety. Ensure that you can be easily seen by pedestrians, motorists, and other people on bikes.

  1. Bike chain / lock
sturdy bike cable lock

Secure your bike! You can never be too sure of your surroundings’ security. Like the mask, try not to scrimp on spending for locks as this is critical in ensuring that your bike is not stolen.

  1. Hydration

Drink up!! Manila’s climate is unforgiving to those who fail to drink up! You might want to invest in sturdy, reusable water bottles so you also don’t have to keep spending for mineral water in 7-11s — less plastic waste at that too!

Essentials to leave at the workplace

There are also things you will need to prepare and leave at your workplace!

  1. Extra clothing
    1. it would be great if you can bring a week’s worth of clothing so you don’t have to bring one set with you every day. You can also treat this as your emergency clothing in the event of storms or flooding that comes on one of your [bike/non-bike] commutes.
  2. Toiletries
    1. If your office has a shower facility, you might as well bring soap, shampoo, comb and other personal effects you need. Don’t forget the towel! 😉 Otherwise, you can always use the “wet towel technique” – the sweat you accumulated is just a quick wipe away!
  3. Shoes
    1. I just leave my black leather shoes at the office. Just be aware that there might be days that you are not going to bike commute, so plan accordingly, lest you go to office with a shoes unmatched with your get-up!
  4. Extra [recycled] plastic bags
    1. for soiled clothing to bring at the end of the day.

Conclusion

Finally, always keep in mind — SAFETY FIRST! As it is with being a pedestrian and a motorist, always have presence of mind on the road. Take your time and no need to hurry. You’ll probably get there before everyone who are stuck in traffic anyway.

Ride safe, good luck, and enjoy!