Cycling to work is dreamy in the summer, throw on a t-shirt and shorts, enjoy the warmth on your skin and gain the adoration and envy of your colleagues. But even I'll admit it's harder in the winter months.
Now we're all being asked to actively commute to work when possible, there's a few things you should consider before you set off.
7 tips for an enjoyable cycling commute to work
I’m an all-year active commuter, often using the train for part of my journey once the days get shorter. There are two main motivations for this – I avoid using a car wherever possible and it means my exercise is already built into my day, every day. Physical activity is so important for our health – and it’s even more beneficial to mental health to keep up the outside time.
1. Re-stock your supply of spare pants
In fact, make sure you have a completely clean outfit at work at all times. You’re more likely to get wet in Autumn and Winter, and even if you’re just cold, it’s better to have a complete change of clothes, including underwear.
A mudguard on your bike (or scooter!) will help with how wet you get.
2. Wear layers
Wear layers so you can change what you’re wearing as you get warmer or the day does. Make the top one a classic hi-vis vest if you’re cycling. On really chilly days put your clothes (and gloves) on a radiator before you put them on.
3. Invest in some good lights
I don’t buy much actual cycling kit, but I have spent a few pennies on some super bright lights. This is mainly because (shhh) I’m actually quite scared of cycling in the dark. This is particularly important if your commute has unlit sections of road (mine does).
4. Get organised
Simple things can help with being organised for a commute by bike.
- Let the bike take the strain – panniers make you less sweaty than a rucksack.
- Make sure you know where you can securely store your bike.
- Stay punctual by trying out new routes on your way home.
- Bike routes are brilliant but will obviously be busier at commuter time, so give yourself plenty of time and be considerate to other people using the paths.
Day-to-day things like packing your bag the night before and knowing where you will store your bike when you get there. In Leicester there’s a staffed bike park in the city where you can leave your bike securely indoors for a small cost – look into what’s available locally to you.
If your trusty steed will be kept on the street it’s worth finding out if your home insurance covers your bike. If not, standalone bike insurance could be worthwhile. In both cases, check what level of lock security is needed and buy a good quality bike lock to match the requirements of your insurer. Your local Police will often have online advice on locks and cycle-marking schemes. In general, avoid cable locks.
5. Change your journey
Could you get a train part of the way? Or a bus, and then run the last section? Be active in one direction and find a colleague who lives locally for a lift in the other?
Last winter I tried out both scooting and running from the train station once it got a bit too miserable for 14 miles each way on a bike. Only one of those has really stuck… Scooting is so much fun!
6. Carry a hot drink
Carry a hot drink with you for any unplanned stops or for when you arrive at work. The small thermal flasks that fit in a bike bottle cage or side pocket or a rucksack are ideal. It’s not a bad idea to have an emergency snack on you too.
7. Have fun!
Remember to enjoy it! There’s a beautiful freshness on cold, still mornings. Frosty ones can be even more beautiful as in the winter I ride to work towards the sunrise and watch the sky change colour along the way.
Whatever the weather, if you're prepared with the right gear and give yourself time, a commute by bike is always the best way to go!
Find more cycling inspiration on GetOutside, plus search for routes for your commute on OS Maps.