Considering starting to ride your bike to work? Maybe commuting has become more tempting now summer is here and we need to reduce using public transport as the world emerges from coronavirus lockdown?
Whether your commute will take you 15 minutes or 15 miles, check out our six top tips to get you started cycling to work!
PLAN AND PRE-RIDE YOUR ROUTE
You may have been driving to work in the time before you decided to opt for pedal power. That doesn’t mean the same route will be best by bicycle! Check out websites such as Strava or MapMyRide to help plot a route that may be more bike-friendly, for example taking in bike paths or trails.
When you think you’ve found the route to take, make sure you go on a test ride on the weekend before your first cycle to work. This will help you gauge how long you need to complete your commute and check for any potential issues with your route.
On your first ride to work, try to plan your day with your boss so you can make the commute away from the peak of rush hour, getting that first trip under your belt with the minimum of stress.
CYCLE WITH CONFIDENCE AND PURPOSE
If you’re new to riding in traffic, the key is to be cautious yet confident.
Rather than hugging the kerb as you commute in a bid to make yourself as small as possible to allow vehicles past, you should remain around two meters out of the gutter, where you are safe from pedestrians or pets stepping into your way.
Taking this position in the road also ensures that drivers act mindfully and give you space when they pass rather than just whizzing past your shoulder.
When you approach junctions or busy patches on your cycle to work, act confidently and purposefully. Ensure your intentions are clear so that drivers can anticipate your movements and actions with both your body language and your hand signals. The worst thing you can do is be wavering or hesitant, as this forces drivers to second-guess your actions.
NEVER TRUST THE WEATHER!
Unfortunately, riding to work in glorious sunshine doesn’t always mean blue skies will meet you on your ride home. We advise you always take a quick check of the weather forecast the night before your commute, but don’t take that prediction as guaranteed!
It’s best to keep a thin packable rain jacket in your bag at all times, just in case. For that reason, it’s also advised to fit mudguards to your bike if you have a dedicated commuter bicycle.
TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Unless your boss is a fellow cyclist, they may not take too kindly to you blaming a puncture if you arrive late from your commute.
Make sure you always have the gear you need to repair a puncture with you – our CO2 Inflators and mini Bike Pumps are small and lightweight and can be easily stashed in the bottom of your bag. If you’re riding tubeless tyres, our Tubeless Tyre Repair Kit is also a speedy solution!
Another essential item to have with you on your ride to work is a solid lock – your commute home may become difficult if you find you have no bike to ride! The most secure locks are metal ‘D-Locks’ which can loop around your frame, wheel and the point you choose to anchor the bike to.
Lights are another essential. Even if you plan on commuting in daylight hours, small flashing lights on the front and rear of your bicycle serve to attract attention, meaning that drivers will be sure of where you are.
WHAT KIND OF BAG?
The way you choose to carry your luggage can make a huge difference to the comfort of your commute. If you plan on carrying clothing, a laptop and your lunch, you’re best off investing in purpose-made cycling storage solutions.
The most popular options are panniers, which sit either side of the front or rear wheel. These evenly distribute the load across your bike to ensure that your balance is not compromised. Rear-loading panniers are the most popular option as they have less of a ‘drag’ on your steering.
Handlebar bags and rear wheel racks are also good options if you have a lot to carry on your ride, though these solutions will not have the same storage capacity as panniers.
If you only have lighter loads to carry, get a cycle-specific backpack. Backpacks designed with the cyclist in mind will have proper lumbar support to reduce pressure on your back and padded straps to ensure you don’t get sore shoulders. Unless your commute is very short, avoid cross-shoulder bags as these will throw off your balance and can be bad for your back due to the uneven load across your torso.
PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE
Make life easy for yourself in the morning by having all your commute gear ready the night before. When you’re balancing a cup of coffee in one hand and helping your kids prepare breakfast with the other at 7:30 am, the last thing you want to worry about is your cycling gear.
Spend five minutes the night before packing your bag and laying out your cycling kit so you can roll out the door without a second thought.
Enjoy your ride and get to work the most fun way available!