If, like a lot of the population you have had enough of unreliable public transport, or you are simply fed up of the expense and stress of travelling via car in rush hour, you may well have considered cycling to work. It can seem a bit daunting initially, and even when you have come to terms with being exposed on the road, the admin and organisation it takes is also a potentially off putting factor. FEAR NOT though, we are here to help quash those worries and make your commute as straightforward as possible. Because, in all honesty, once you have mastered the route and the packing, you will wonder why you hadn’t started before.
Whether you’re looking to cycle every day or just a few times a month, there are ways to make it as hassle free as possible. The benefits of exercise not only include the obvious, such as endorphin release and fat burning, but new research has suggested that regular exercise can reverse certain ageing processes by encouraging your body to be more engaged in protein synthesis, hence reversing the ageing process of some cells – bonus! It’ safe to say that it makes you feel more refreshed and awake than being in a the stuffy environment of a train or car; the caveat here is unless it is lashing it down with rain, in which case being inside a warm, enclosed vehicle is understandably much more appealing.
Anyway, the best way to be able to enjoy cycling is if you have done the distance before (at least) and invested in some padded shorts. Seriously. We asked a few cycle commuters some tips for the smoothest transition and the answers were all surprisingly similar:
1. PRACTICE the route. Do it at a weekend or when you don’t actually have to be in work so that you can go at a convenient pace that is realistic but not too tiresome, so you can pick it up if needed. This way you won’t have any false expectations on your effort. Do bear in mind heavier traffic and lower energy first thing in the morning and take that into the timing consideration before the first commute. This test run is mainly for getting lost, figuring out your lanes/cycle path rights etc. It’s amazing how flustered an unclear path can make you, especially if there is a honky, aggy driver in a car nearby. Knowing the roads and cycle paths is essential and will make the journey much more enjoyable.
2. For the love of God, pack the night before. Rushing around in the morning will make you more likely to forget something crucial (pants) and less likely to actually get in the saddle. Make a list of what you need; shower gel/shampoo if you have showers, wet-wipes if not, plus dry clothes, a lock etc. You can also use the night before to lay out the cycling attire so that it’s ready for you to slip into, plus it will be staring at you, guilting you into definitely making the journey no matter how tempting to ‘start tomorrow’ may seem. Ensure the bag is ordered with heavier items at the bottom and nothing bulging out to dig into your spine en route.
3. Be prepared with kit; charge your lights, have your padlock and key together, make sure you know where you will be locking your bike, take a portable bike pump, make sure your tyres feel firm. All little jobs that are integral to a decent trip.
4. Blame it on the weatherman. If it looks like rain, either wear waterproofs and add a few minutes onto the journey (it’s best to assume everyone drives like a fool in the rain) OR admit defeat and lay the idea to rest for another day. It’ll be more
disappointing and frustrating if you come to that decision on the morning when you’re halfway in your lycra and only then hear the pounding of the rain on your roof. Rage.
5. Alarms! Set them! One to wake you up and one when you should be out the bleedin’ door. You may just set a time when you know you should be on your way out, but if you are a dopier version of yourself first thing then the shrill sound of an alarm might be what you need for the final push.
Now all you have to do is get out there. Remember, preparation makes cycling to work a breeze and you will be on an endorphin kick all morning. Don’t forget to have a coffee as well, otherwise you may end up falling asleep at your desk mid-morning when the glory has worn off…