This time of year, the whole exercise, diet and sports industry combines to make you feel like a piece of crap. “Did you eat one mince pie too many Brian? Can’t control yourself? We understand, that’s why…” - give me a break, please. You hear that garbage, walk away, turn off the radio and throw something at the television. You are done with this shit!
I’d like to present an alternative approach to starting the new year feeling good, on your own terms and in your own way. My devastatingly simple suggestion is this - cycle to work. Ok, that seems too simple, but let me explain. If, and this is a big if, you actually want to get into shape and do a little exercise, the main problem you’re going to have is time. After work, where does the time go? Before work, forget it, you are not a dairy farmer my friend! So what’s left? The time you spend getting to work, that’s what. Pedal to and fro to your place of work, and as well as arriving feeling like George King of the Jungle you’ll also have worked out, yes, you exercised and you didn’t realise it. Two-fingering the guilt-inducing exercise industry is just a welcome side benefit.
Now, we sell a lot of really nice cycle clothing, we get that, but we’re not going to sell you any of that. This is a blog post born out of the frustration at the endlessly repetitive guff that blares out every year in January, not a vehicle to get you to buy from us (although of course, that would be nice too). No, instead we’re going to give you a simple 3 point plan to get commuting by bike, stripped bare of terminology and more accessible than the village bike.
Use an online map service (Schmoogle maps, Binge, Jaboo!) and plot a route from your home to work. First off, use the road setting to see how far it is. Then get granular with:
- OS Maps
- National Park Websites (if relevant)
After that, simply search online for route guidance from the community. You’re probably not reinventing the wheel with your commute, so undoubtedly some enterprising cyclist has already published details of the cycling route from A to Z, saving you the map work. Whatever you decide upon, do try to stay away from really busy main roads, and remember the golden rule - under no circumstances ever go up the inside of a vehicle, lorry or bus, as they will not see you. You could save time, but you could very well die in the process, and what could possibly be worth that risk?
Dust that broom! Wheel out your steed. We’re guessing it’s a bit worse for wear after a long period of shed rest, but just imagine the rosy-cheeked joy of riding that to work, to work! It’s all too exciting, but before you take her out for a preparatory spin, this is the perfect time to get a decent, independent bike store to wield the spanner of justice, the Allen key of humility and the tin-snips of truth in its direction.
Now that you’re almost ready for the open road, it’s worth investing in a decent cycling bag (choose your weapon of choice, pannier, messenger style or classic backpack) and some ride essentials to prevent mishaps tarmac-side. We’re talking basic tools, spare inner tubes, a little cash, emergency numbers etc. In fact, we wrote a blog on this very thing in our 5 Top Tips for Cycling to Work feature.
So now the moment has arrived, you’re actually going through with it, and we could not be more proud. By cycling to work, you’ve done something for yourself, independent of others, and quite literally, self-powered. Bike commuting is one of those seemingly small life changes that resonates out beyond the simple act of cycling to work. It’s how it makes you feel, what you smell and see on the way, and the friends you’ll make along the way.
Happy Riding amigo. Chapeau! (oh yes, French terminology, that's a whole other thing that comes from the road riding tradition, we'll cover that in another post soon).