A Beginners Guide to Commuting by Bike

By mikevaughan 17. 8. 2020

high vis cycling to work

With the rise of cycling to work, we’ve pulled together a handy guide for those who haven’t commuted to work before. With a little bit of homework, a few preparations before you set off, and the right equipment, you’ll be all set to commuting by bike.

Check your Bike

First things first! Make sure your bike is road ready before every journey. It doesn’t take long check your tyre pressure, and if necessary, pump them up, check your brakes and check your lights. It’s also worth checking your quick release levers haven’t been knocked when you’re taking your bike in and out of storage – it has been known before!

If your bike hasn’t left the garage or shed for months and months, we’d suggest a full check over and service to ensure your bike is roadworthy.

Plan your route

folding map

If you’re more used to hitting the trails and quiet country lanes than the busy town and city roads, plan your route before you go. There are a number of route planners available, such as Sustrans. You may be able to avoid the busy roads and junctions you’d rather not traverse just yet by planning your journey and selecting quieter roads, even if they are  not the most direct. Commuting by bike might even open up cycle paths as a route to work that you couldn’t have taken by car! There are a number of cycle routes around Kenilworth and Warwickshire, so check them out and see if any would work as part of your commute.

Work out how long it will take

Try your journey out at the weekend, but factor in that weekend traffic might be different. Your commute to work isn’t the same as a fast weekend ride – there’s likely to be more traffic and junctions contributing to a slower journey time. A good rule of thumb is estimating you’ll be travelling at 10 miles per hour.

We’re also mindful that you won’t want to arrive to work all hot and sweaty. Whilst some places have showers and changing areas, others don’t. We recommend having a gentle commute into work, and then, if you want to have more of a workout as part of your switch to a greener commute, make your commute home a faster ride.

Build your confidence

TREK riders wearing Wavecel helmets

Many of our customers are confident on the roads, but for those that haven’t cycled for a while, or at least not in busy traffic, we know it can be quite daunting. There are a few options for building your confidence before you start commuting including:

  • Always be happy with the basics – that you can check over your shoulder without wobble, signal clearly while keeping complete control of your bike, and be confident steering and braking. If that means a few spins around the park then go for it!
  • Go out with a friend who’s happy cycling in town and use them as a role model. You can learn how maintain a good position on the road, cope with traffic and and get experience of cycling on busier routes
  • Start using the quieter routes to work and build up to busier roads as you get used to commuting by bike
  • Sign up some cycle training if you’d like some additional support and guidance

Protect yourself

wavecel helmet

Always wear a helmet when cycling on the road. For optimal protection, make sure it’s worn correctly (it should fit snugly across your eyebrows) and is free of damage.

Even if you’re only ever riding in the daytime, you still need to be seen. A rainy or dull day can affect visibility for drivers and yourself. Wearing high visibility clothing and using accessories with high viz flashes such as back packs, trousers and helmets can also help.

As we are in the UK, weather is also a consideration, and protecting yourself from the odd shower or downpour is a wise precaution to take. A lightweight packable waterproof is always worth having packed away in a pocket or bag!

Wearing lightweight clothes for commuting will also keep your work clothes free of grime and splashes. Mudguards help considerably with this too – who can put their hands up to having a mud splatter up their back after a morning ride on wet ground?

Bike Lights in poor light

Using your bike lights not only illuminate the path ahead of you, but signals to other road users that you are there. As soon as light starts to fall, put on your front a rear lights. Read out guide to bike lights for more information.

Finally, make sure your bike has a bell for the commute – essential for letting pedestrians know you are there.

Be prepared

Whether you have a rucksack or a nifty little storage unit, make sure you carry your puncture repair kit and essentials. The kit should include spare battery for lights (if your lights take batteries), spare tube, mini pump, puncture repair patch, multi tool, tyre lever and spare battery for your lights. We always carry a £20 note to get us home in a taxi if the worst comes to the worst.

Keep your bike secure

Bontrager Keyed Pro U Lock

Different workplaces offer different solutions for storing bikes securely, but investing in a good quality bike lock is a must. If you can leave the lock at the office consider good quality D lock. f you need to carry one to and from work,  consider a more lightweight lock.

At home, consider where your bike is kept and have the appropriate level of security to help keep your bike secure.

Take time putting your bike away

Once you get home, all you want to do is get in the house but spending just a few minutes at the end of the ride will save you time the next morning. Spending a few minutes wiping down your bike and storing it safely and securely will extend the life of your bike. If your bike lights are rechargeable, bring them in to be charged during the evening, ready for the next day. Once the bike is away, you’re ready to enjoy the afterglow of riding from work, content you’ve helped your fitness, taken some time to yourself on the ride home, and helped the environment. Time for a well earnt cuppa.

If you haven’t commuted to work before, want to start but you haven’t got a bike up for the task, you can buy a bike through the Cycle to Work scheme. If you’d like to know more about commuting by bike, choosing the best bike for you, or you need to give your bike a service, give us a call, we’ll be happy to help you on your way.

Cycling to work in Kenilworth