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5 ways to make biking to work an easy ride

(MoneyWatch) Have you ever considered leaving your car in the garage and biking to work? It's a multi-tasking dream scenario -- get your workout in, get to work, and save gas money in the process. But while this may seem like an easy choice, it comes with potential hazards. First, if your commute is long, it can be overly ambitious to think you can bike the distance, depending on your fitness level. Second, it's unprofessional to show up to work smelly and sweaty. But there are some great solutions to these and other common problems. Here are some tips for chaos-free commuting:

Find the right bike
If you're going a long distance, an electric bike might help you get up to speed. Or if you're using public transportation, a folding bike might be worth the investment. Other commuter-friendly features to look for include an enclosed chain-guard (no more ripped or muddy pant legs) and cargo racks for your briefcase or purse.

Leave a change of clothes at the office
Assume the worst will happen. There may be a sudden downpour and a car might splash your suit. And if these happen, they will definitely happen on the day of a big meeting. So be prepared and hopefully you'll never have to use your Plan B.

Know that it's not all or nothing
If your office is far away or you're building up your fitness, know that every bit helps (your budget and the planet). So get a ride there and bike home. Or ride to the train that will take you the greater distance, instead of commuting to the station and paying for parking.

Stock up on baby wipes
They're the MVP of waterless showers. If you're a really sweaty biker, you'll need to pack at least a new shirt (see "Leave a chance of clothes"). But if you just need to quickly freshen up, a few baby wipes, a swipe of deodorant and a quick comb of your hair can having you looking office ready quickly.

Try a saddlebag
Messenger bags and backpacks can make your back sweaty. But a saddlebag or seat bag sits under your seat, keeping your stuff safe and you dryer. These are more secure for your valuables than a basket, particularly on bumpy roads (or city streets).

If you're a bike commuter, please share your best tips in the comments section.

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