Cyling Commuter Tips From a Newbie Cyclist

I’ve recently started cycling to work on a regular basis (after a month long hiatus following the London to Brighton bike ride and subsequent puncture!) Here are some of my tips to make your commute as enjoyable and safe as possible. Please ensure that your bike is road worthy before setting off on any rides!
Plan Your Route
Find a route before you leave home that you know, and that you feel comfortable cycling. On my way to work I try to cycle through as many parks as possible- so incorporate Kensington Palace Gardens and Hyde Park in my route. I also avoid very busy roads and junctions- I actually push my bike round Hammersmith Roundabout (remember not to cycle on the pavement or you risk a fine/annoying pedestrians!) Often the quickest route isn’t the nicest, or the one you feel most comfortable with, and that’s ok. Leave a little extra time and enjoy your journey. It might even be worth practising your journey beforehand, when you don’t have the added pressure of getting to work on time.


Don’t jump Red Lights

It’s illegal and incredibly dangerous. I know you think you can zip through a red light, beat the traffic behind you and get to work more quickly, but please please don’t. You never know which other traffic might be using a junction, not to mention pedestrians. For your own safety, and others, wait for the light to turn orange/green. Even if the sporty guy in the lycra is light jumping, it does not mean you should too.

Wear sports gear
And get changed at work, or at the gym. I see plenty of people cycling in work outfits and suits, but I find I get a little sweaty on my commute and love being able to put on clean clothes when I get to work. A little tip, pack these clothes the night before, sometimes outfits thrown together in seconds in the morning, don’t look as good as you imagined when you put them on! Also don’t forget the essentials such as shoes, underwear and deodorant (and a towel if you plan on showering, I’m gross so usually don’t!) Don’t forget your UV and helmet.
Invest in a Rucksack or Basket
You’ll want somewhere to put your change of clothes, money, phone, keys etc, and hanging a handbag off the handlebars is not all that safe, and it’s pretty annoying (I’ve done this more times than I can count). Get a rucksack that is form fitting, or a clip on basket, it’s an easy way to store all your gear without it moving around. I am currently in the market for a new backpack, as the one I am currently using moves around a lot and is not very breathable, any recommendations.
Bring a Waterproof with you
Pack something like a kag in bag, or roll up jacket into your rucksack/bag to have with you when cycling. Particularly in London, you are likely to get caught in the rain on occasion, and it’s handy to be able to whip a jacket on quickly before everything gets soaked. Along these lines, it’s a good idea to put your clean/dry clothes in a plastic bag within your bag to ensure they stay clean and dry no matter the weather! After yesterday’s very wet commute, it was horrid having to put on slightly damp jeans and a top with a wet patch on!
Wear Glasses
During the summer it is mostly fine to wear sunglasses, but it might be worth trying a pair of cycling glasses during those darker mornings/evenings the rest of the year, to protect your eyes from bits of dust and dirt flying up from the road. This is a personal thing, but my eyes were streaming after my commute on Monday!


Leave the Ego at Home
Your cycle to work is not a race, it shouldn’t be a competition. Take your time, you don’t have to beat other cyclists, or weave through the cars. Above all, enjoy your commute by bike, it’s a great way of getting an extra workout in, and usually more pleasant than spending 45minutes on the tube with your face in someone’s armpit!

Do you cycle to work, or use your bike as a means of transport? What are your tips?
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3 Comments

  1. July 31, 2013 / 1:26 pm

    I cycle to work every day, but in Brighton. I’d be terrified to cycle in London. It infuriates me when I see cyclists weaving in and out of cars and running traffic lights – cycling up the left side of a bus to get to the front is never a good idea either. Great post though, hope people take note! Also, completely agree with you on the glasses front – I got drenched this morning in the rain, and if I had glasses I might’ve not had to continually blink all the way to work!

  2. August 14, 2013 / 12:31 pm

    Hi, I’ve just come across your blog and as a fairly intermediate runner (used to run a 5k every year in my twenties, had a break due to knee problems, just done my first 10k and looking forward to training for my first half marathon) I’m loving it! I’ve been cycling to work for the past twelve years – not in London, you are way braver than I’d ever be to do that! – and I’d strongly recommend panniers rather than a rucksack – rucksacks can really throw off your balance and can be quite dangerous especially when it’s windy. Ortlieb do some brilliant ones. Enjoy your cycling – I’m awed and inspired by your runnning!

    • August 14, 2013 / 1:50 pm

      thanks, that’s so lovely! Will definitely look into panniers, particularly for the winter weather! Thanks for reading!

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