GetOutside Champion: Bel Dixon
“Bel, are you always grinning?!” “No. That’s mostly when I GetOutside.”
GetOutside Champion, Debs Butler loves cycling to work. But how does she keep it up when the darker, colder months set in? Here’s her 6 tips to keep your activity high as the temperature outside drops.
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 it starts getting harder at this time of year.
People have already said to me: “I don’t know how you do it” on the rainy mornings. It’s not even frosty yet, that’s when It gets really tough. Keeping going with walking, running or cycling to work can be much harder in the autumn and winter.
I’m an all-year active commuter, 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.
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 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.
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).
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!
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.
Remember to enjoy it! There’s a beautiful freshness on cold, still mornings. Frosty ones can be even more beautiful. At the moment, I ride to work towards the sunrise and watch the sky change colour along the way.