Keen to join the thousands of people starting their day with an invigorating ride to the office? Our 10 tips for commuters will get you off on the right foot.
1. Plan your route
Plan your route using one of the many online tools, but don’t just look for the most direct way to reach your destination. Consider using dedicated cycle routes – when you’re frazzled from deadlines, it can be much more pleasant than dealing with backed up traffic. Mix your routes up over the week to keep things interesting.
Try downloading Strava to look at other people’s routes and make your daily journey more fun. But don’t be too preoccupied with ride times when navigating busy stretches of road; save the racing for somewhere appropriate.
We also love CycleStreets, which is invaluable for finding pleasant backstreet routes. They can be a bit convoluted, but we guarantee that CycleStreets routes will take you to parts of your city you never knew existed.
Once you’ve planned your route, it’s worthwhile testing it out over the weekend, when the roads are relatively quiet compared to rush hour. You’ll be able to assess potential hazards and be much more aware of how to handle them.
2. Ride safely
Riding a bike is a relatively safe activity but when collisions occur they can be nasty, particularly when lorries are concerned. Take a moment to read the London Cycling Campaigns advice and beware of the lorry (or other large vehicle) turning left.
3. Be prepared
Check the weather forecast and get your gear ready before you go to bed. The easier it is to hop on your bike and get out of the door in the morning, the less likely you are to decide against it.
4. Pack smart
Keep a lightweight waterproof jacket in your bag along with a spare tube, some basic tools, a mini pump and some latex or nitrile gloves to protect your hands from dirt should you need to fix a puncture.
5. Check your pressure
Slogging along on squidgy tyres is no fun and will make your ride to work harder than it needs to be. The recommended pressure for your tyres is often written on the sidewall, so make a note of the number and regularly pump your tyres up to the suggested figure.
If you’re commuting regularly, a floor pump is an invaluable investment as you’ll struggle to add enough air using a small hand operated pump.
6. Make a change
Commuting in day-to-day clothes is fine. But if you do ride in cycling kit, keep extra clothes, socks and shoes at the office. You don’t necessarily need a specific set of clothing for riding your bike but it can still be nice to switch to clean, dry clothes when you arrive. Leave some baby wipes and deodorant in your desk drawer for freshening up on arrival if your work doesn’t have a shower.
7. Accessorise your bike
Mudguards can make cycling in the rain bearable – even pleasurable. There’s nothing worse than your rear wheel directing gallons of dirty water at your backside. Add front and rear lights to make sure you’re seen.
8. Use all your senses
Use your ears, not just your eyes. Ditch the headphones and pay attention to your surroundings. You can’t see what’s behind you but often you can hear traffic approaching.
9. Be considerate
When pulling up at a junction, don’t overtake all the other cyclists patiently waiting at the lights and head straight for the front of the queue. Manners shouldn’t go out the window just because you’re on a bike – a considerate cyclist is a good cyclist.
10. Love your bike
A clean bike is a happy bike. Your components will last a lot longer and you’ll enjoy smoother rides if you take care of your machine. A quick wipe down of the front and back rims will remove grit that can ruin your brakes and a dot of oil on your chain will keep things running smoothly.
Don’t forget to have fun!
But lastly, have fun! There’s nothing like an overcrowded train in the morning to put you in a bad mood, so breathe deep, get the blood pumping and smile your way to work!