Top Tips from a Cycle Commuter.
In recent years, there’s definitely been somewhat of a revolution in the number of people choosing to cycle to work. Maybe it's down to increased traffic on the roads, personal issues relating to health, cost or simply trying something new. Either way, there are many great benefits of cycling into work rather than driving or using public transport.
In this particular blog post, I hope to highlight some of my Top Tips, after I decided to ditch all modes of transport, in order to complete a 32 mile/52km cycle commute each and every day.
My Top Tips
It's a lifestyle choice
First and foremost, before going any further with this blog post. I feel I have to make it clear that commuting to work is most certainly a lifestyle choice and one that any would be commuter, must stick to and be fully committed to before you undertake such a challenge.
I decided to cycle to work because I wanted to and over the years even though the wind has howled, the rain has soaked me to the skin and the bitterly cold temperatures, made me want to cry. I have stuck with it and have been driven and determined to make a positive change.
before you decide to read on, everything else is immaterial. If you don't have the initial commitment and possess a positive state of mind. Simply saying you are going to do it, then buying the best bike on the market, only for it to sit in the shed. Isn't really going to work for you.
If you are fully committed and keen to make a change. Read on, enjoy and join the growing revolution.
Choosing the right bike
Is very important, but it need not cost the earth. Too many people attempt to buy something flash or indeed don't even know what they are buying. They pay over the odds and fall out of love with it, as soon as the newer model catches their eye. Find a bike that suits. A bike that is comfortable for you to ride and one that begins to suit your budget.
I have a few bikes because I simply love to cycle. I commute to work on a Hybrid sports bike and also have a Cyclocross bike to use, whenever I wish. Both were both averagely priced and they continue to serve me really well. They are robust, quick, reliable and rarely fail me.
After scouring the market. Make a choice, test it out and then get the shop to set it up correctly. Before you begin to be on your way. Undertaking the many miles that lie ahead.
My favourite retailers are linked below:
Cycling is certainly a fantastic way to exercise. As long as the bike is set up correctly and allows for freedom of movement. My aerobic fitness levels have improved greatly over the last few years and regular cycling has certainly helped to shed any excess pounds. Keeping the body trim and helping with overall movement.
Daily amounts of fresh air help wake you up and as a result, my skin complexion has never been better.
From experience, it is important to pace yourself carefully and as the saying goes... 'don't run, before you can crawl.' I have progressed and now undertake 32 miles a day because I can. I've cycled for years, I enjoy it and it has become second nature to me. But... I did start somewhere and everyone does, so be sure to set your goals, distances realistically and the distance will inevitably build up over time.
The most obvious benefit of cycling to work on a regular basis is the overall cost-saving. I now live in the Netherlands and cycling is simply a way of life here. People cycle everywhere, but there are choices too. I have means to use a car and close to my house are several excellent public transport links, but after weighing up all the options, cycling is much better for me. Saving money on your travel costs is simply great, as it allows your money to go much further than first expected. It allows you to save a little and in turn spend it on more of the things you want and need. Like a puncture repair kit! I feel it is always money well spent.
One of your biggest battles, when commuting to work, will definitely be the overall balance between food in and food out. Getting this right balance is pretty crucial and can inevitably lead to either a really pleasurable cycle ride or unfortunately an arduous one. Which may result in you wanting to give up all together.
Eating the right foods is something you will need to constantly work at and it is something you need to be very open-minded about. I know I have and after many years of commuting, I'm slowly starting to learn what works for me and what doesn't.
I feel, you can read all the research, but often it boils down to a game of trial and error and also a little bit of common sense.
In simple terms, I have a really good breakfast before starting out. It usually consists of Porridge or Chai Seed Pudding, Fruit and Water. Just not all in the same bowl...
I enjoy a coffee or two throughout the day and try to eat good GI foods during the rest of my day. It works for me and finding the right balance has been so very important. Especially when trying to maximise performance and endurance levels out on my daily rides.
Furthermore, it is important to note that I always carry water on the bike and a flapjack biscuit ready, just in case I needed it. Especially important if the strong winds are blowing in your face.
Generally though, if you eat well throughout the day and also after the ride. I feel perfectly fine and never really get too tired or overly hungry.
One of the biggest and most important things I have learnt over the years is to invest money in purchasing some good cycle clothing. It definitely makes all the difference and feeling warm, comfy and staying dry, is pretty much paramount if you want to stick at this long term.
Speaking from experience, the weather can be really, really nasty at times and to be riding in such conditions can certainly turn many would be cyclist off doing this sort of thing. I will be brutally honest, there seems no great pleasure in being soaked to the skin or chilled to the bone, on a daily basis, but it can be done if you are astute and invest in the right places.
Investing in good clothes has definitely been my lifeline and I can honestly say by investing wisely, the weather rarely bothers me or defeats me.
There are many, many options available, but I always tend to choose Gore-Tex products. They always seem to be true to their word and keep me warm and dry. I like to use a lot of Haglofs outdoor products. Although not necessarily specific to cycling. Their clothing products are extremely light, packable, warm and keep me wonderfully dry. Time after time.
Even during the warmer months, the clothing is suitable, breathable and looks very good too.
Lights and Equipment
Winter can definitely be the toughest months to cycle through. This is for many different reasons, so be sure to have the correct equipment, especially purchasing a good set of lights and reflective clothing can also be a wise and valuable investment.
Personally, I always ride wearing a helmet, even though many don't, here in the Netherlands. That is my choice, but I always feel you need to do everything possible to protect yourself, no matter the costs.
Carrying essential items to and from work can also be rather tricky at times. I started my commutes with a backpack, but felt that the overall strain of excess weight on your back can prove to be problematic. So, I decided to make another wise investment. This time by purchasing suitable pannier bags.
Pannier bags are the way to go and I feel by purchasing some you won't look back. They hold much more than you think and are perfectly waterproof, sturdy and easy to add to the bike and also take off when you reach your desired destination.
I opted for Ortlieb classics. These were in Black and they are simply superb. They look good, come in a variety of different colours and certainly do the job required.
Having cycled my commute for around 3 years now. I can honestly say. You can spend all the money in the world, look good and cycle as fast or as slow as you like.
But... the one thing you need more than anything else is a huge amount of positivity.
Cycling to work is great and it does have many, many benefits to both body/mind and also the bank balance. Although at times, it is not always as it seems, so be prepared for some lonely and tough times out on your travels.
Doing such things does play with your mind and it will inevitably make you doubt yourself. It will make staying in bed for an extra 30 minutes longer seem like the best thing in the world.
Regardless of all these elements and the obvious distractions that may follow. POSITIVITY is only thoughts that will far outweigh them all.
No doubt. If you have a positive mind you will go a long way and in the face of adversity. If you can still stay focused, pedal on, you will reach your desired goals.
At times, I'll admit it. On several occasions, I have felt like quitting and reverting back to the car or public transport. And one day, due to me not getting any younger, I probably will have to seek alternative modes and methods of transport anyway.
Until then, I will do my very best, to follow this path and continue to soldier on. Making the most of what I've got. Making a change and continually feeling good about doing such things.
To conclude. I must make it clear that I don't have all the answers and these thoughts and stories merely come from my own humble experiences out on the bike.
In doing so, it has probably been one of the best choices I have made in recent years. By cycling to work I have no regrets. I feel great and it is positive life choice I wish I had made, many years before.
From a personal perspective, I continually live by the saying that 'one day I will not be able to do the things, I can do today.' I love this particular saying and always feel it resonates in my thoughts and outlook in life.
Why I have the opportunity to make a change. I will do my very best, to make that happen. Making the most of things along the way and if I can encourage more cycle commuters to act similarly, then I'm doing something positive. Right?
If you are a keen cyclist or someone who is delving into a new area of your life, as a cycle commuter. Either share some of your thoughts below or get in touch and I would love to host one of your cycling stories here on my site.
Many thanks for reading.
and always remember that...
I CAN and I WILL.
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