My love for cycle commuting began in 2011 when I moved to London for my Masters. Faced with a limited students budget and income I bought my first bike to avoid the enormous Tube costs. Three years on I’m still cycling regularly to work. For Bike Week 2014 I wanted to share my top 10 tips of how to cycle to work or Uni as a woman.
Prepare your lunch and snacks the night before
Especially during the darker, colder months getting your lunch ready the night before gives you that extra snooze time that most people want. If it’s ready to go you’ll have less excuse to not get up and ride.
Get your cycling gear (and work clothes) out the night before
Getting your cycling clothes and work clothes out the night before can really help you to stay motivated and follow through with your intentions. It can also avoid potentially embarrassing situations where you have no underwear or left your work clothes on your bed at home and end up sitting in your workout gear all day. Yes this has happened to me!
Panniers and a waterproof bag
I honestly don’t know how I managed to ride the streets of London for a year without getting some panniers! Wearing a backpack would make me feel too sweaty so I used to tie a backpack to the bike rack using bunji cords which always added an extra 5-10 minutes onto my journey. Everyone knows that the Netherlands leads the way when it comes to cycling gear. Once I’d come across these awesome pannier bags there was no turning back. Quickly clicking into place I the rack these colourful bags are great for shopping and can hold a huge amount of stuff including laptops, textbooks, clothes. Not to mention being waterproof!
Eat breakfast at work
Keep a box of cereal or breakfast bars and fruit in your locker/drawer at work for days when you forget, run late or don’t feel like eating early in the morning. Chances are, after a bike ride you’ll be feeling a bit hungry. Keeping a stash at work helps keep you prepared and avoid running late or skipping breakfast.
Wash kit and make up set
Dry shampoo is a must for fresh looking hair. Personally I find that keeping a second set of make up (and deodorant) at work saves transporting it backwards and forwards and avoids situations where you need to go barefaced for the day. If you are one of the lucky ones with a shower available having shampoo, shower gel etc there ready to go helps you look and feel your best. Just don’t forget your towel (yes I have done this). Speaking of towels, microfibre ones used for travel or sport are great as they dry quickly. No shower? Baby wipes are a good alternative.
A legal requirement for night time riding in some countries, lights are so important to see and be seen. Don’t be that invisible bike rider wearing black without lights narrowly missed by cars at night. Personally I love the rechargeable ones which charge quickly in a USB on your computer or phone charger and don’t need batteries.
Not the most fashionable of items, reflective gear is important to stay visible and avoid being accidentally hit. Whether it’s a high vis jacket, backpack or belt, there are lots of different options out there.
Particularly important in wetter countries like the UK, having waterproof clothing like jackets, pants and shoes keeps you warm, dry and avoids you having to go home in cold damp clothes later that day. I wouldn’t recommend the latter option.
Keep shoes under your desk
Shoes are bulky things which can take up precious space in your backpack or panniers. Having a pair or two at work keeps the load lighter. I typically have a pair of black and brown heels and some walking shoes (for lunchtime walks) under mine.
Unfortunately there aren’t really any stylish options when it comes to helmets, but when it comes to safety they are a no brainer. Perhaps not so essential in really cycle friendly countries with more bikes than cars, in most countries cars outnumber bikes in a big way. Your brains are important so keep them protected.
Do you cycle to work?