5 cycling to work tips from experienced daily bike commuters
Always Riding HQ sits around 12 miles from where Alex, Danny and Pete (the Always Riding commute team most excellent) live when they are not giving the cycling goodness. If there’s one thing we’ve all learned since starting this sizeable daily commute, it’s to do as the Scouts do, and be prepared. In order to save you from making some of our mistakes (which have been numerous), we’ve collected below a few hard-won cycling to work tips that should help to make your commute as smooth as a freshly fitted tyre, even if bad luck does visit your door to hand over the valve cap of doom.
Cash is king, numbers are heaven sent
Should something happen on the road, and usually we’re talking a puncture or mechanical, it’s exceedingly handy to have some cash in a tool bag. Whatever the requirement, be it phone call or purchase of energy restoring chocolate bar, you’d be surprised just how reassuring it is to have a little of the old foldable with you in a crisis.
Can you recite the phone numbers of your nearest and dearest? If your phone dies, having written numbers of loved ones or friends to hand is a really good idea. We rely on our phones to think for us, and forget that without them we could be stranded sans help mid-commute - not a good place to find yourself, so get scribbling!
Hunger knocks are the bridge troll of your commute
One of the surprise side effects of daily bike commuting is that you can pretty much eat what you want, in fact a lot of calories isn’t so much welcome as stuff-your-face necessary. However, there will be days when no matter what you have eaten, the hunger knock makes an unpleasant visit. It starts as a slight shakiness in the hands, perhaps a little cold sweat. But it develops fast, and before you know it, you’re pedaling squares and hanging over the bars wondering what your name is.
In reality, you’ve experienced an unforeseen drop in blood sugar, and it always feels worse than it is. To prevent, or at least buffer the knock, carry an emergency snack, cereal bar, or hearty flapjack in your bag. We can’t stress how important this is. If you start to feel like your legs are empty (a common feeling that preempts the knock) - stop and eat the bar, take a big drink, relax for 5 minutes, then ride off slowly. Remember, the knock is exponential - the further you’ve gone into the red, the longer it will take to feel better. so don’t panic, just get eating and start drinking.
Have tools, can travel
A little light jazz, a hot tub and an Allen key set. Time for romance, or at least, learning which bolts you need to tweak in a pinch. Yes, we’re talking bike maintenance, a topic that incites fear in some, lust in others.
Bikes are hardy machines, but you should at least ride with a decent tool selection. In most situations a good multi-tool will suffice, but do check pre-ride that it can cater for all the important bolts - think seat post, stem, brake posts etc, before you venture out. You don't want to be caught like me, ‘Señor Slidey Seat Post’, a victim of poor preparation and in consequence, a pogo stick ride home with a slipping saddle. Last but not least, cable ties - like a nutcracker at Waldo’s World of Walnuts, you’d be surprised how useful they can be.
Hissing in the jungle bad, hissing from your tyres, worse
Maybe I’m prone to exaggeration, but I’d rather out-stare a King Cobra than mend a puncture out in the wilds. Keep puncture repair duties for the weekend, and instead ride the weekday commute with two spare inner tubes in your bag. Replacing a tube is pretty quick and easy (don’t forget tyre levers and mini pump!), so our advice is don’t think repair should the worst happen, just swap-out and ride on.
Stashes for heroes
Post-ride, there are some things that you should try to keep in your place of work that will help you to carry over that endorphin-fuelled good mood until home time. In our experience, a fresh pair of socks is always welcome, a third spare inner tube to restock your supplies, a comb or hairbrush for de-Einsteining in case of meetings, and USB light charging leads.