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11-19th June is Bike Week, an annual event that promotes cycling and demonstrates how it can easily become a part of your everyday life.
This year the main focus is on cycling to work, so we have had a look at how to get started.
First things first, you need a bike. If you already have one, make sure it is in good working order and if you haven’t used it for a while, take it to your local bike shop for a service. If you don’t own a bike, start with something simple, functional and ensure it is the right size for you. There are some great bikes on the market and you might be able to pick up a good second hand cycle that will ease you into this lifestyle change without making a massive financial investment.
You might want to take a look at the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme; an employee benefit that provides tax savings on bikes and equipment.
Get a helmet. No they aren’t cool but protecting your head is key to safe cycling, so make it a priority. It is also a good idea to invest in bright, reflective clothing especially for the evening and winter commute, as well as decent lights for your bike.
Always carry spare inner tubes, tire levers and a pump in case you get a flat and learn how to use them too.
It is one thing driving or getting the bus to work, but cycling needs a little more planning. You ideally want to find a route where you can use roads with dedicated bike lanes or take the quieter streets with slower speed limits. Ensure there is good lighting as this will make you feel more confident and safer.
Trial the route before you use it for work as this will help you feel prepared. Once you are happy with the route, leave early the first few times you do it for real. Giving yourself an extra 15 minutes will help you relax so you can deal with any unexpected traffic or delays calmly and not get stressed or nervous. Once you get in the swing of things you will find you simply take these in your stride, or peddle!
Be aware of the road and the traffic around you. Buses, cars and lorries are bigger and faster than you so it is vital that you keep focused and in their view. It is also important that you follow the rules of the road and never cycle on the wrong side, don’t use pavements and always stop at red traffic lights.
Whilst you can wear your work clothes for cycling, many people prefer to change into them when they arrive so they feel clean and fresh. As well as the reflective clothing we have mentioned, you may want to wear padded shorts or tights and go for layered clothing, as you will work up a sweat. A rucksack means you are free of a bag on your handles and you can also keep your lock in this.
Find out what facilities your workplace offers cyclists. Ask colleagues or HR about cycle parking, showers and a place to store your gear. If there isn’t anything official in place, see what can be organised and you might be surprised by how many other people want to get involved but were to scared to ask.
Cycling with a friend can be fun so see if anyone else is up for the challenge or maybe someone in the office is looking for a buddy to join them?
Most of all, remember that cycling is meant to be fun. Yes it is a great way to get fit and you will be doing your bit for the environment, but try to relax and take it easy. You want riding to be enjoyable, so do it when you feel like it and if it is raining or you don’t feel 100%, give it a miss and try again the next day.
Stay safe and cycle happy.