Five tips from my first 2000 miles of cycle commuting

Commuting to/from work by bike five days a week over the past few months has been quite the learning experience. I’ve witnessed beautiful sunrises, ridden in complete darkness, been caught in lashing rain, battled gale force headwinds and suffered the odd mechanical or two along the way. I love being on my bike and thanks to the commute, cycling has become an integral part of my daily routine.

Although it’s not that far (about an hour each way) the miles soon add up and you quickly learn how to smooth out the process. Here’s five tips little I’ve picked up along the way…

Be prepared. Pack a thin rain jacket or gilet on every ride. This is more for those in the UK where the weather can change in a matter of minutes. An extra layer can be a Godsend if you suffer a mechanical or get surprised by a sudden rain shower. I’m a fan of the Sportful Hot Pack 5 as it packs down to the size of an apple for easy storage.

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Ride confidently, but not aggressively. Get out of the gutter, take the lane if you need to, signal clearly and make your intentions known. Be safe out there – you’ll still get the odd close call. If you do have an incident, think about what YOU could have done to possibly avoid the situation. And most of all, don’t be a dick…

Invest in some decent lights. If you need to see clearly on unlit roads at speed I’d suggest 400 lumens is the minimum brightness necessary.

image4Pay attention to run times as a light rated at 400 lumens may only last on that high setting for an hour (or less). Work out how bright you need your front light to be, then buy something brighter! Choose from a reputable brand such as Cateye, Lezyne and Exposure and don’t skimp out with a cheaper set. If you buy cheap, you’ll buy twice!

Set up a charging dock. You’re probably going to need to charge multiple lights and your Garmin when you get home at night. The last thing you want to do is go hunting around for all those cables! Set up one wall plug in a convenient location where you can leave all your devices plugged in to charge. This will streamline the whole process saving you time when you get home after dark!

IMG_0593Clean your bike. If you are riding in all conditions, your bike WILL get filthy. Very, very quickly! Be sure to keep on top of your maintenance. Consumables such as chains, cassettes, cables and brake pads will wear out much faster if you don’t attend to that mucky drivetrain and grime splattered rear end! Also it pays to check the condition of your tyres on a regular basis. Check for cuts and anything stuck in the rubber.

Well there’s my first five. I’ve got a few more, but I’ll save them until I’ve clocked up a few more winter miles. I’m still new to this game so if you’ve got any cycle commuting gems, please leave them in the comments section below! #enjoytheride

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7 thoughts on “Five tips from my first 2000 miles of cycle commuting

  1. I commuted by bike to college a couple of times a week in the warmer months, over a similar distance. I’d add leaving home a bit early and leaving yourself a couple of safety minutes so you don’t feel nervous about being late. Makes for a much more enjoyable ride.

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  2. Good tips! I don’t commute (yet?!) but your ‘get out of the gutter’ tip is one I need to take heed of – when I’m riding main roads I’m so worried about getting in traffic’s way that I spend my ride up against the hedges bumping over pot holes!

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    • Almost always better to position yourself 2 or 3 feet out from the edge as you’ll avoid many of the potholes and also prevent some of those super close passes when cars try to squeeze into the gap which isn’t there (plus if somebody does pass close you’ve got some space to move over).

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  3. Great points. The lights thing is good, but I would also suggest having a small backup set as well – when I need lights I have at least 2 front and 2 rear. 1200 lumens and 300 lumens front (plus an emergency light) and then a strong rear light plus a spare. But charging lights daily should hopefully eradicate any need for extra lights.

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    • As well as my main lights, I have some of the cheap ones from Decathlon that I leave on my bike all of the time. They’re useful if my main lights haven’t charged properly or for the rare occasions in summer when I’ve stayed at work so late that it’s dark when I need to go home.

      I keep a spare pair of waterproof trousers in my desk drawer, so that if the weather changes dramatically during the day, I don’t have to worry about a grim ride home. (I also have some spare socks there, so that if I get soaked on the way in at least my feet will be warm and dry!)

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