Commute by Bike

Guaranteed weight loss, or alternatively – how to eat more food with no weight gain – the answer; cycle to work.

Devon may not be the flattest place in the world to cycle but it is one of the most beautiful and has an abundance of quiet lanes.

Here follows our top ten tips for cycling to work or riding generally:

  • Travel light. If possible keep a supply of clothes, a pair of shoes, wash bag and a towel at work. I use a small ruck-sack or a Camelbak that carries the bare minimum i.e. food! Some prefer to use panniers which allow you to carry more but remember the less weight you transport the less effort required.
  • Preparation and organisation. Get your cycling clothes and bicycle ready the night before so all you have to do, come morning, is jump on and ride.
  • Wear padded cycle shorts. If you buy nothing else, purchase a pair of these they’ll make the experience much more comfortable. Don’t make the mistake of wearing underpants beneath them but you can always wear leggings over the top.
  • Pump your tyres up hard. Most racing bike tyres will go up to around 100 psi and for mountain bikes 70 psi. You will find that you travel with less resistance and hence less effort. If you have a mountain bike and use it primarily on tarmac swap the knobbly tyres for slick ones and it will be almost as fast as a racing bike.
  • Saddle height is very important. It directly affects your efficiency on the bike and is one of the most common mistakes people make. There are many theories on correct saddle height the simplest of which says that if you sit on the saddle and place one of your cranks so that it is in line with the seat-tube and then place the bottom of your heel on the pedal your leg should be straight. That’s a good starting point, now you can vary it slightly according to what feels comfortable. If the front of your knee hurts it’s too low and if the back of the knee (hamstring) hurts it’s too high.
  • Golden rule of cycling. Always carry a pump, spare inner-tube and some puncture repair patches. Punctures on the road are fairly rare. In over ten years of commuting I’ve had about five.
  • Fit mudguards. I’d recommend this; they don’t look cool but do stop that mucky road spray when it rains.
  • Cover your saddle with a shower cap or plastic bag while your bike’s parked at work.
  • Be creative with your routes. People often make the mistake of using the same routes they would use in their car; these are not necessarily the quickest or best by bike. Make use of those back lanes to get away from traffic, use your imagination. Have a look at an Ordnance Survey map or visit Bikely to plan a route. To keep your commuting fresh vary the route but check out untried ones on the way home otherwise you might be late, as I once got lost on the way to work!
  • Treat the ride to and from work as training. It’s much cheaper than going to the gym and in the summer you’ll pick up a suntan, all be it a two-tone one. Exercising twice a day is an excellent aid to loosing weight and getting fit.

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