Cycling to work should be an enjoyable activity, but it’s easy to feel intimidated by the lycra-clad road warriors when you set out for the first time. It can make you feel like you ought to be super serious when out on two wheels, when that’s not the case at all!
If you’ve been toying with the idea of cycling to work, September 14th is Cycle To Work Day across the UK and Ireland – the perfect opportunity to use your pedal power.
Below we’ve listed our top five tips for getting started, and you can also take a look at our top five reasons to cycle to work.
First Things First
You’re going to need a bike. However, you don’t need a fancy road machine with carbon forks and clipless pedals; any bike will do the job. If you’ve not been out on yours for a while it’s a good idea to check that it’s in ok condition. If you pledge to ride to work on the 14th over on our Pledge Page, we’ll offer you a free bike check to ensure your bike is in good working order.
And if you don’t have a bike or are looking to upgrade, don’t forget to take a look at the Cycle2Work scheme! You may be eligible to save up to 42% on a brand new bike through your employer; check out our Cycle2Work site for more info.
Base Layers & Chamois Pads – oh my!
When it comes to what to wear, don’t think you need to go all out with cycling shorts and skintight tops. These garments have their place and can certainly make cycling distances more pleasant, but if you’re not going too far or are planning on taking it easy, anything goes! Take inspiration from our Dutch neighbours and go casual; wear something you can move in but other than that feel free to throw caution to the wind. And yes, cycling in jeans is ok! Take a look at our What Gear Do I Need? article to discover more.
Something we highly recommend is a helmet. It’s not law to wear one, but if anything happens you’ll be thankful you had it! And if you’re worried abut helmet hair, a spritz of dry shampoo will sort those tresses out in seconds.
Other things you’ll need are detailed in our Guide to Bike Accessories, but in short: grab some lights for the dark evenings and a lock to keep your bike safe.
Always Be Prepared!
If you’ve not cycled to work before, it’s a must to plan your route before you set out. You could even do a dry run on the weekend. The best route to cycle may not necessarily be the route you’d travel by car or public transport. We advise looking for a route that doesn’t have too much traffic, at least until you’ve built up your confidence and experience on the road.
It’s also a must to check out what facilities your workplace provides; is there somewhere to securely store your bike? If you’ve built up a sweat can you cool off under a shower or at least get changed somewhere? It’s easy to overlook until you turn up at work and realise your bike is going to have to be propped up against your desk all day!
Slowly Does It
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend jumping straight into cycling to work every single day – that’s a recipe for some achy muscles. Start slowly and increase your mileage each fortnight or when you feel you’re ready – it doesn’t matter if it takes you two weeks or six! Start off with a commitment to ride to work between one and three times a week and only consider adding more days once you’re consistently hitting your goal.
Above all, enjoy it! It’s so easy to find enjoyment in cycling, whether it’s discovering new nooks and crannies of your home town, feeling the sun on your skin, or revelling in how much money you’re saving and how fit you’re becoming.
The below quote from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle beautifully sums up the joy that is to be found in riding a bike:
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
September 14th is Cycle To Work Day across the UK and Ireland, and this year we’re sponsoring the event. In order to get more people hopping on their bikes, you can pledge that you’ll take to two wheels on the 14th over on our Cycle To Work Pledge page. If you do so, we’ll offer you a free bike check to ensure that your bike is in perfect commuting condition.