One thing that is on the up in 2020 is cycle commuting. Thanks to the circumstances we find ourselves in, our communities have become increasingly aware of the importance of clean air and exercise. What better way to combine the two than by riding to work? That’s before you even factor in costs, which we covered in our earlier article: The Cost Of Commuting By Bike Versus Car.
But if you’re new to, thinking about or even an existing cycle commuter, you know that there are a few barriers to overcome before pedalling in to work. So, following on from our article, Nine Things to Check Before Every Ride, we’ve compiled a selection of the best commuting tips to help make your daily ride a little more stress and hassle free.
Research the route
The first stage of a successful commute is researching your route. This will help you to understand the distance, time, elevation and terrain of the commute which will then inform other riding decisions. By using detailed ride planners like Komoot, Google Maps or Cycle Streets, you’ll be able to find bike lanes local to you and your place of work so that you can get there without hassle. It’s also advisable to do a test run on the weekend before just to fine tune directions and timings.
Wear kit that is practical for the weather and conditions you ride in. If your commute is long, wear your cycling kit, if you’ll be going off road, dress so that you’re ready for muddy terrain. Conversely, if your commute is in a city centre, dashing from one place to the next, you can get away with ditching the lycra in exchange for casual kit. Remember, you can never be too waterproof especially in the UK. Jackets, bag covers, waterproof trousers and socks, etc, are all your friends in foul weather no matter the ride length.
Ride the right bike
On the same vein as your clothing, ride a solid bike that you can rely on. If you’re commuting on the road every day then you need a bike that you can set up to ride through all weathers. So probably not your pride and joy. Mudguards and wider tyres are great additions for commutes that take in off-road sections and will keep the muck off you and your bike. If you’re just getting into commuting but your office is a long way away, how about using an electric bike? On the other hand, if you have a short commute where you combine cycling with a train ride, using a folding bike is far more practical.
Get reliable lights
A good rule to follow when you commute by bike is ‘see and be seen’. This means getting powerful lights to see where you’re going once the light drops and investing in an equally powerful rear light so that other road users can see you too. Combined with reflective clothing this means that your commute will be safer as you will be far more visible especially during those dark winter months.
Invest in a solid lock
We’ve covered your safety, but what about your bike? Investing in a solid lock and learning how to use it properly will greatly decrease the risk that your ride will be stolen. As a cycle commuter your bike is your primary mode of transportation, so treat it as such with a solid lock, even if it’s just a simple town bike. The personal cost to the rider nearly always far outweighs the actual monetary value. For more tips check out articles: 12 Ways To Stop Your Bike Getting Stolen and the Ultimate Guide To Bike Locks.
Get ready the night before
Preparing your work gear the night before setting off is a useful routine to get into. You can be certain you’ve packed everything without the panic of a morning rush and it’ll also make it easier to get out of bed. Train yourself to get into the mindset of cycling to work by ensuring there are no obstacles to deter you, just wake up, follow your routine and get out on your bike.
Leave spares at the office
Leaving spares of crucial kit might just save you one day. Creating some desk space for lights, locks, inner tubes, shoes and spare clothes (including underwear – it’s easy to forget the essentials when you start the day in bib shorts!) will prevent you from getting caught out by freak emergencies. Depending on what lights you choose, keeping a USB cable in your desk drawer is another easy measure to ensure you’re always fully charged and ready to go.
Fuel for the commute home
As well as spare kit, make sure that you have dialled in at work nutrition. By eating slow release snacks, energy bars and fruit throughout the day you will be well fuelled for the return leg. It is all too easy to ride in hard first thing, only to knacker yourself and be half asleep by the time you ride home. As well as being ready for the ride back, ensuring a healthy work diet may also make you a more productive worker.
Learn basic bike maintenance skills
Keeping your bike in good working condition will prevent any time-consuming mechanicals. Learning basic bike maintenance skills and carrying the necessary equipment with you will help you keep your bike going for longer. For more, check out our earlier article: 8 Maintenance Tips Every Cyclist Should Know.
Remember, you deserve to be on the road as much as any other road user. Cycling in traffic can be daunting but make it easier and safer by being confident in yourself, staying switched on, understanding your rights, using hand signals and riding with respect by following the rules of the road. It can take a while to build confidence but starting with a positive mindset by expecting the best possible experience will get you off to a good start. Riding to work can and should be a fun way to start and end your workday.
Commuting by bike is a fantastic way to start your day and get into the right headspace for work. Following these tips and getting into a solid routine will make sure you’re a confident cycle commuter in no time. For long term protection for yourself and your peace of mind, it’s well worth considering cycle insurance. As well as protecting you, your bike and accessories in events and races, Pedalsure covers cases of bike theft, personal injury and personal liability – above and beyond what you’ll find in standard home insurance policies. Arming yourself with a Pedalsure policy will not only make your commute safer, but considerably more fun.
Need something to lock your bike bike up with when you’re out and about? You can now get a free gold rated Hiplok DX D-lock worth £69.99 with any new insurance policy, just one of many ways we protect both you and your bike.