Something encouraged by the Government at the moment, I thought I’d share some tips on cycling to work. It’s something I’ve done quite a bit of over the years, right back to when it was my only form of transport for jobs I had as a teenager. With the pandemic, cycling to work hasn’t been something I’ve done enough of. Work’s been a rollercoaster and when I return in a few weeks I actually can’t cycle to work, but that’s another story.
What’s in my bag?
Taking the right things on your commute can make all the difference in giving you peace of mind as you enjoy the fresh air on your way to work.
I can cycle to work with some sort of piece of mind when where I work isn’t open to the general public, but that doesn’t stop me having a good quality lock in my bag. To make things easier I loop it so it hangs off the outside of my bag. That way, I don’t have to take everything out of my bag when I get to work to find it.
- Saddle bag
This is something I have on my bike regardless of if I’m cycling to work, or just in general. I tend to use my saddlebag for all my bike repair ‘bits n bobs’ because then I know exactly where they are. Like with how I attach my lock to the outside of my bag, it makes everything easy to access if something goes wrong with my bike. What I tend to keep in here is my multi-tool, tyre levers and an inner tube.
These can be useful for a multitude of things, but it depends how much you know about fixing your bike. Simply, you can have it on-hand in case you want to change your seat post height. For the more adventurous, you can adjust the gears if they start clicking away and just generally not working as they should.
- Spare Inner Tube,
Punctures are sometimes just unavoidable, but it shouldn’t put you off cycling to work. Some people like to repair the inner tube, but for speed I put a new inner tube in instead and put the punctured one back in my bag/pocket.
Now, choosing the right inner tube isn’t always as easy as it seems. So there’s a few questions you might find useful:
Do you have a road bike or a mountain bike? Depending on which, type *bike type* inner tube into the internet.
What wheel size do you have? With something like a mountain bike this is pretty straight forward, eg. 27.5″ or 29″. With a road bike it might seem a little less obvious, but whatever the bike it will say on the side of the tyre what wheel size and inner tube size is required. On my road bike it says 700x25c on the tyre wall, which translates into needing an inner tube of that name.
You can try the Internet for these, but your local bike shop will be able to help you choose the right inner tube too. It’s also worth looking to puncture resistant tyre. No tyre is completely puncture proof, but it’s sometimes worth spending a little more on a high quality tyre to get you to work on time.
- Tyre Levers & Pump
Some die-hard cyclists will be like “I don’t need tyre levers”, but sometimes they’re just useful. I might do a post on inner tube repairs, but there’s probably lots on YouTube already! Tyre levers and a pump obviously go hand in hand when it comes to getting your tyre back to the correct pressure and you cycling again.
- Pre-Planned Route
Possibly more something on my handlebars than in any bag, but definitely a must. My route to work is fairly straight forward, but involves country lanes with lots of junctions. So when I’m tired after a shift at work, it’s nice to know I can rely on my Garmin to get me home…ha!
A light on the front and back of your bike can help no end when it comes to being seen by other road users. My rule of thumb is to always have a red light on the back of my bike, then when it’s dark outside I’ll pop a light on the front of my bike too. I also tend to avoid buying black or dark coloured cycling kit.
The light shown is from Exposure. I find it perfect for riding to work as it isn’t too bulky, but then packs enough power to clearly light the road in front of me.
I’m aware not everyone will be lucky enough to have country lanes to get them to work, but Bethan from www.bethanytaylorswaine.com suggests using City Mapper. She says “it can help you find quiet ways you might not have thought of before”.
If you tend to use your phone for route mapping, then fitness blogger Elle Linton suggests investing in a Quadlock. This is a handlebar mount and phone case duo, that help make fixing your phone to your handlebars a lot easier. She says “she spent months trying to hold my phone in my hand whilst riding!”.
Helen from 1vision2girls says to “pack your bag the night before” to eliminate ate the risk of forgetting anything! Helen also leaves an extra 15 minutes on her commute time to allow for any dramas like roadworks or traffic lights on route.
The Fit Londoner leaves a wash bag and work clothes at work if she can, so she’s carrying as little as possible. She suggests to “do a recce of your route on a weekend, especially if you’re not used to cycling on roads or following a GPS”.
Lisa Thake, from Fat Girl Fit, always double-checks her lights are charged for her commute to work as well as the commute home. Most importantly, she says to “be safe and be seen”.