More and more people are choosing to cycle to work for varied reasons, the most obvious being the health, cost and time saving benefits. This is not to say that cycling to work does not present commuters with day to day issues and problems of its own. In this article we have tried to answer some of the many questions people are faced with when considering commuting on a bike.
1. Keeping your motivation strong
The biggest enemy you have in this case is yourself. The rain, the cold, the fatigue can all be addressed effectively, but it all boils down to how you motivate yourself and keeping yourself determined. Most cyclists will admit to having motivational highs and lows but there are tips on how to help you to be less likely to talk yourself out of getting on your bike in the morning.– Prepare all your gear the night before: Your kit, lights, bike, shoes and everything else you need for the commute. This will make it easier for you to get up and get going.– Keep a record of how much money you are saving by commuting to work on your bike instead of driving or using public transport.
– Improving fitness levels: Whether it is a long or short commute you will soon start feeling the benefits of it. Feeling better and feeling fitter can drive your motivation levels further.
– Cycling gives you a great sense of achievement which leads to taking on your daily work challenges with an extra level of strength and confidence.
2. How much kit do you need?
What kit and gear you need for your commute depends on the type and length of your journey. If you work locally and will only be cycling through town you do not need more than your normal work clothes. If you will be commuting a fair distance with your commute being longer than 20 minutes and is more of a work out you might want to invest in some cycling specific items of clothing. In all cases a helmet is a must!
3. What happens when it rains?
As always, having the right kit for the job means you will feel confident in every occasion. Having waterproof clothing and shoe covers is essential to keep you feeling comfortable on rainy days.– Always keep spare kit and clothing at your work place in case you get wet.– Look at the weather report the night before. This will help you be prepared both in terms of what kit is needed the next morning and mentally.
4. How do you fight the morning cold?
The thought of those cold and frosty winter mornings is less appealing but as with the previous tip, having the right gear is crucial.– Get yourself good warm clothing: Wind-breaker jacket, gloves, and a winter collar. Many cycling specific clothing brands now produce ‘city cycling’ ranges of clothing which are aimed specifically at commuters and offer items that are comfortable (and for the fashion conscious, look good!) to wear both on and off the bike.
5. When the days get shorter
– Although hi-viz clothing might make you more visible in day light, reflective clothing is by far more effective all-round. More and more cycling clothing brands are addressing the issue of visibility by including effective reflective elements in their ‘casual’ clothing ranges giving you a wide range of clothing options to make you feel safer and more confident to ride in low light conditions.– We cannot stress enough how important it is to have good quality lights on your bike. Not only it will make you feel safer on the roads but having good lights can also help you avoid those dreaded potholes. The number of options for bike lights are endless (we’ll address those options in a separate blog post!) but using lights that can be charged via USB port allows you to be able to have your lights at the ready both at home and office.
6. Keeping it interesting
Find alternatives to your regular route into the office. This can have several benefits. It can help you find quicker, safer or quieter alternative routes and also makes sure your journey doesn’t become monotonous. A good tip is to do a couple of test runs to and from your work place on the weekends. This will allow you to explore new routes you might have not known before and judge the timings.
7. Don’t do too much too soon
Many people start off with a great level of determination and intentions and this might lead them too force to do too much too soon. This can lead to having the opposite effect on you and after a first week or two of your new fitness regime your body might start showing signs of fatigue and that can lead you to talk yourself out of cycling. Start slow and progressively, cycling once or twice a week to work and build up until you feel comfortable enough to do it daily.
8. Keep your bike well maintained
There is nothing worse than your bike giving up on you mid-ride on your way to work. Just like any other machine, a bike needs to be well maintained and serviced to delivery on a daily basis. Respecting and taking care of your bike is key to make sure your journeys are quick and stress free.
9. Respect the high-way code
We all want other road users to respect and share roads with us cyclists and we must lead by example. Jumping that red light will not get you to work much quicker. Signal properly and respect all road signs and signals. Use bike lanes where possible and do not under take cars at junctions but command a good position on the road to make sure other road users can see you and give you enough space. (If you want to find out more about the rules you should follow when you are cycling on paths and road have a look at our cycling safety blog post, which will be up on our blog soon!)
10. Learn how to change a flat
If you dont already know how to do it, you should learn and practice how to do it as soon as possible. Although repairing mechanical problems is something you can get the local bike shop to do, having the basic skill of tire changing is essential to give you a good level of confidence to know you can handle a road side issue on one of your journeys.
It is not a daunting task and once you do it for a couple of times you’ll be able to change it in a few minutes. We’ll be uploading a step by step guide to our resources section soon but in the meantime a quick search online will give you more guides than you could have wished for.