Thinking of taking a longer cycling commute? Our very own Jonathan Sharpe shares his top tips for getting yourself ready for the challenge.
Like so many of us, I find it hard to fit in and maintain an exercise routine, especially as I creep towards middle age (ahem). I’m definitely guilty of taking an easy route out and listening to the voice in my head telling me it will be OK to ride tomorrow. If you weren’t aware, tomorrow’s that mythical land where punctures get fixed and the washing gets done! Having cycled all my life and dabbled with a little amateur racing in my younger years, cycling to work seemed the most logical way to fit in some exercise and training into my day.
I only live a few miles from the office and the direct route would only take ten minutes, but I try to go on a longer ride and keep some good habits going. But it’s not that easy as the alarm goes off at 6am, and the little head voice tells me to hit the snooze button (“it will be fine to go riding tomorrow,” the voice says).
However, once awake, I’m like a man possessed and into my morning routine … feed the cat, obligatory coffee, pack my bag, hunt for my house keys and then finally I’m out the door (note to self: put the keys somewhere more memorable).
My favourite and usual route is mostly made up of quiet-ish country lanes, and I’m fortunate I don’t have to battle with too much stop-start traffic or any short sharp Surrey hills (I can save these climbs for weekend rides). Finding an enjoyable and quiet route to work is a must, as it’s one of the best ways to start the day.
Below are some of my top tips on how to get yourself prepared for a longer commute to work if you’re anything like me. Did I ride into work today? Yes. Will I ride in tomorrow? I’ll tell you in the morning!
Jon’s top tips for those on longer commutes:
Get as much ready the night before to reduce the amount of morning faffing about! This includes looking out your cycling clothes, food and even your favourite coffee cup to save time.
Store what you can at work to avoid carrying too much with you on the bike. I’m lucky to be able to keep some shirts, shoes, wash kit and spare cycling kit in my locker. We have showers here at CTC, but if you don’t have them where you work, you can get freshened up with a sink and wet-wipes (or use the facilities at a local gym).
Let your bike take the strain
After years of commuting with a back pack, I now ride with a pannier to let the bike take the strain. Your back will thank you in the long run!
Keep emergency items in your bag at all times. I have a pump, tube, multi-tool and emergency lights in my commuting bag.
Keep it clean
Fit some full length mudguards as they’ll help to keep you dry during the British summer.
Fit some more durable tyres and keep them correctly inflated. There’s nothing worse than having to fix a puncture mid-commute.
Keep your bike clean and well maintained. You should do this anyway, but the last thing you need is for your bike to let you down because you’ve failed to maintain it.
Stay fuelled up!
You may or may not eat before your ride, so it’s a good idea to keep some non-perishable items of food or cereal in your office drawers. As I open to check what I have in mine, I can see some seeds, rice cakes … and some stroopwafels!
If you can, take a nap during your lunch break. I often pack myself off to a quiet part of a nearby park and indulge myself with a little snooze.