Words by Cheryl Davies, director of Cycle Solutions; an independent Cycle to Work Scheme Provider
Like any commute, cycling to work on even the trustiest of steeds can occasionally go wrong - but the longer you do it, the more shortcuts you learn.
Some of these hacks will get you home in a bind, some will keep your bike running smoothly while others will simply make you more comfortable, visible and better protected on the commute.
In any case, you'll never look at old chains, used inner tubes or supermarket sandwich bags in quite the same way again.
If your bike spends the day locked up in a public place while you're hard at work, there is a clever and cheap way to deter opportunist thieves from pinching your saddle. Simply take an old bicycle chain and thread it through an inner tube.
Then, secure this to the rails of your saddle and the frame of your bike. You'll need a chain remover tool to do this. Use the tool to break the chain by removing the pin, shorten the chain to the appropriate length, and then re-link the chain once in place.
Adorn your helmet with cheap 'be seen' lights for extra visibility on dark commutes. These can be bought for a few pounds online, or on the high street. Simply stretch and secure around the vents of your helmet, or on the back of your rucksack. Remember, these are no substitute for a proper front and rear road bike lights which are a legal requirement if you ride after dark.
If you normally carry a pump in your back jersey pocket, it can really hurt if you fall off. It also slides around when you ride, which can be irritating. Wrap your rain jacket around it first, to stop it moving and to pad your back in case you fall off.
Keep a short length of electrical tape wrapped around your bicycle pump at all times. This is useful stuff, but no one wants to be carrying a whole roll on every ride. Use it for a temporary fix if a cable frays, or a spoke breaks, or a zip on your kit or bag fails
Our bike mechanic never leaves the house without a few cable ties. He says they make a great temporary substitute for a snapped cable guide. Some cyclists even use these in winter for traction on icy roads by wrapping them around the tyres at intervals. And, if your cycle computer or a pannier comes loose, they really come into their own.
If you have disc brakes and you ride off-road, mud and grit can get stuck between the disc and disc pads. Without having to dismount, and as you cycle along, you can spray water from your water bottle at your brakes to flush it out.
To keep your bicycle in pristine condition for longer, wrap bar tape or an old inner tube around your chainstays. This will protect the paintwork if your commute takes you over rough ground.
If you're investing in some summer cycle to work kit, note that jerseys can get ruined quickly when sweat mixes with sun cream. Go for one with dark sleeves and collar if you sweat a lot.
Ziplock sandwich bags from a supermarket are just as good at protecting smartphones from the rain as waterproof bags from a bike shop. These won’t weigh you down, either.
It’s not an old wives’ tale - newspaper really does soak up water. If your shoes get soaked in the rain, raid the recycling bin in your office and stuff with scrunched up newspaper. The paper will absorb the moisture and dry them out ahead of your next commute. If they are really wet, remove the insole and change the paper a few times throughout the day. Keep a spare pair of dry socks at the office and you’re winning at life.
But that’s not all. If you do get caught out by the inclement British weather, and you don’t have enough warm layers to get you home without risking hypothermia, sheets of newspaper under your outer layer will stop wind chill in its tracks.
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