Cycling to work is a win-win; you can beat the traffic and get to work on time while enjoying some time on your bike and improving your health. However, many people are put off by the thought of carrying things, arriving sweaty or riding busy routes. Our five tips will help you find solutions to some of the problems of cycling to work so you can turn your commute into the most enjoyable part of the day.
1. Start the night before
A really good rucksack or pannier bag makes carrying the items you need for a day at work much easier and packing it becomes part of the ritual of cycling. Pack your workbag the night before and it will make the morning feel less rushed. If you plan to wear Lycra cycling kit, lay out your clothes the night before so the decisions on what to wear are already made and your intention to cycle is set. In our experience, if everything is organised and ready to go you won’t find reasons to change your mind.
2. Leave heavy items at work
A great strategy for a typical Mon-Fri commute is to drive or take public transport on a Monday and take a complete set of clean clothes with you, then on a Friday take a rest from your bike to take all your dirty washing home again. If you’re riding in cycling kit, leave a spare pair of shoes at work, as these are heavy to take in every day.
3. Have food ready
Cycling makes you really hungry, even if you’re only riding a few miles, so make sure you have some snacks ready for when you arrive, otherwise you will be struggling to focus by lunchtime. If you can’t stomach breakfast before you cycle, at least have a banana or a glass or orange juice as this will top up your energy levels and help keep you alert until you get to work. Schedule in a healthy mid-afternoon snack otherwise you may lose motivation to cycle home, as fatigue sets in and energy levels drop after lunch. A cup of coffee about 30 minutes before you’re due to leave will also perk you up!
4. Plan a cycle friendly route
You don’t have to cycle on the same route you drive or that the bus takes. Check to see if there are stretches of the National Cycle Network you can follow or use the CyclingUK journey planner to find the most cycle friendly option. Other useful apps are Strava and Komoot as they use crowd-sourced data from other cyclists to suggest the most frequently used cycle routes, so you can take advantage of other cyclists’ local knowledge to discover routes that are safe and pleasant for cycling.
5. Give yourself plenty of time
One of the great things about cycling to work is that your journey takes a similar time every day. On a bike you’re unlikely to be affected by traffic jams, delays or cancelled trains so you can plan your arrival time much more accurately. This removes a lot of the stress from commuting. Even if you’re late you are still in control as you can pedal a bit harder to get there faster!
However, if you don’t want to arrive at work hot, sweaty and flustered make sure you allow plenty of time so you don’t feel under pressure. If getting a bit sweaty is unavoidable and your office doesn’t have showers, then wet-wipes, or a wet flannel and soap, are good enough for a quick wash. If your personal hygiene is normally good this will be sufficient to keep you clean and comfortable for the rest of the day.
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