Is it time to start cycling to work, again?
22 March 2019
Here at Vivup HQ, several of the team have been giving their bicycles the once over ready to start cycling to work again now spring is on its way! If you’re a hardcore cyclist who braves all weathers to cycle to work you probably think that we’re all lightweights, but at least we’re trying to get active and start (and end) the working day with some exercise.
If you’re also thinking about getting your bike out of the shed and joining the cycle commuters, here are some tips for getting started.
5 tips for cycling to work
1. Check your bike is in good condition
If you haven’t ridden it for a few months, you’ll need to check your bike is safe and reliable. Why not do the ‘M Check’ – which traces the letter M from your rear wheel up to the saddle, down to the pedals, then up to the handlebars and finally down to the front wheel? The video below from cycling charity Sustrans, shows you exactly how to do it.
If your bike isn't in optimal condition it might be time to get a replacement. Many organisations run Cycle to Work schemes for their employees, helping them get fit on 2 wheels via a salary sacrifice scheme. Ask your line manager or HR department about Cycle to Work schemes, or log in to your Vivup account to explore the schemes currently available.
2. Make sure you have suitable clothing
If you’re a fair weather cyclist you may be planning to only cycle to work on dry days. However, bear in mind that it can still be quite cold at this time of year; and even if it’s not raining, tracks and cycle paths can be wet or muddy.
Of course, the most essential piece of kit is a well fitted cycle helmet. But also think about a hi-vis windproof and waterproof jacket, suitable footwear and not forgetting cycle gloves! Holding onto those handlebars when it’s cold first thing in the morning can be very uncomfortable if you haven’t got anything warm on your hands.
Again, your employer may offer a Bike Shop scheme that helps you to get kitted up with suitable cycle clothing and accessories, that aren’t available through the Cycle to Work scheme.
3. Start off slowly
If you haven’t cycled to work for a while, or perhaps you’re starting for the first time, it’s a good idea to start slowly. Don’t go from doing no exercise to cycling to and from work every day, and when you do take your bike out don’t start off too fast! As with New Year resolutions, most people who do too much too quickly end up giving up completely.
Instead, pace yourself both throughout the week and during each ride. Perhaps only cycle on 2 days of the week to start with, or cycle to work and leave your bike overnight to cycle back the following day. Also make sure you allow plenty of time to get to work. If you haven’t cycled the route before, have a practice ride at the weekend so you know how long it will take at a comfortable pace.
4. Breakfast and snacks
Don’t skip breakfast if you’re planning to cycle to work! You may want to burn some calories but you’ll also need enough energy to cycle and then work through until lunchtime. Wholegrain toast or cereal will provide fuel for your ride and then a healthy snack, like some fruit, when you arrive will prevent you from raiding the biscuit jar midway through the morning!
Remember also to keep hydrated. Have a glass of water before setting off and replace those fluids when you arrive. If you have a long cycle commute, or it’s hot, take a water bottle.
Prepare for your cycle ride home with a mid or late afternoon healthy snack. This will ensure you have the energy to get home, and that you don’t feel completely wiped out when you do get back.
5. Enjoy it and feel good!
With the right kit and preparation, you’re all set to enjoy your commute to work! Exercise like cycling boosts those endorphins and makes us feel happy, so enjoy the experience. Stop thinking about cycling as a way of getting from A to B, instead think about all the benefits and enjoy them as you cycle.
Look around and appreciate your surroundings. Enjoy the camaraderie of other cyclists on the road – there’s a real community out there! Use your cycling time for mindfulness or meditation (while cycling safely!) to improve your mental health and wellbeing. And when it gets tough because you’re heading up a hill or it’s started to rain, think about all the good it’s doing you physically and mentally as you build resilience and fitness.
For more on cycle to work and bike shop schemes, explore the Vivup portal to find out what’s available. If you haven’t used Vivup before, you can register by clicking here.
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