10 tips to get your started

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Make sure that your attempt to join the ever-growing band of cycling commuters is a success with this expert guide

Cycling to work can save money, save time, reduce stress levels and improve fitness. With a bit of preparation, you can feel comfortable and confident right from the start as a cycling commuter. Here are 10 tips for getting started:

Equipment

Finding a comfortable and reliable bike is essential. The good news is that the range and quality of affordable bikes has hugely increased in recent years.

Saddle up: getting a bike that suits you is imperative

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Ask cyclist friends for advice on what will work for you – a hybrid, road or mountain bike – and shop around. Buy a comfortable helmet (it’s worth spending a bit more on a lighter model).

A good waterproof jacket and a pair of padded shorts will also prove sound investments.

Route

Try it out on a weekend, without the pressure of needing to get to work on time, and outside rush hour. It’s useful to know the junctions and points along your route where you will need to be particularly alert.

Route finder: make sure you swot up before you set off

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Use an online route planner. Ideally, see if you can find an experienced bike commuter to share their knowledge, ride with you and show you their route.

Start slowly

Build your fitness with weekend and evening rides and try commuting once or twice a week to begin with. Other forms of exercise such as jogging and walking will also help to build your general fitness.

Stepping stones: build up to your commute with weekend rides

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Don’t force yourself to ride to work if the weather is awful or if you’re feeling tired.

Bike-handling technique

Start with some relaxed rides in the local park or another traffic-free environment. Learning how to handle your bike will give you more confidence on the commute.

Settle in: get a feel for your bike in a traffic-free environment

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Closed-road circuits or velodrome taster sessions are also good ways to gain experience and confidence as a bike rider.

Safety

Make sure you are visible to other road users. High-visibility clothing is an excellent idea, and you will need good front and rear lights.

Be seen: high-visibility clothing is well worth the investment

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An understanding of good road position and how to ride safely in traffic is also important.

Get to know the roads near you and get used to negotiating traffic lights and junctions, using hand signals, and checking over your shoulders before changing lanes or turning.

Maintenance

Any serious problems should be left to professional mechanics, but it will really help if you can replace a punctured inner tube.

Keep moving: it’s worth getting clued up on basic bike maintenance

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Once you have the knack, an occasional puncture will be no more than a minor inconvenience. Practice changing tubes at home or book a basic maintenance session at your local shop.

Upgrading to more durable, puncture-resistant tyres is often a good idea.

Storage and logistics

Find out what facilities are available for cyclists at your workplace: are there showers and secure bike storage available?

Safe and secure: many offices have dedicated bike storage facilities

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Keep some clean clothes, towel and shower gel at work so you don’t have to carry much while you’re riding. You can also keep a bike lock at work, which will save weight.

If you have to lock your bike up outside, make sure you secure the frame and both the wheels.

Nutrition

You will burn plenty of calories and taking on enough fuel is important.

Perfect snack: a Soreen Malt Loaf bar will help keep you going

For journeys of less than an hour, there is no need to buy expensive energy bars or sports drinks, but keep hydrated with plenty of water.

High-carb snacks such as Soreen Malt Loaf are perfect for before, during or after your ride.

Be prepared

It’s a great idea to prepare all your kit and pack your bag the night before.

Plan ahead: getting your gear ready the night before can save precious time

Scrabbling around looking for that stray glove when you are in a rush to get to work is never fun, so have everything you need laid out in advance, fill your water bottle, pack any work clothes you need and save yourself precious minutes in the morning.

Have fun

It will take a little thought and preparation – not to mention some money – to begin your new life as a bike commuter.

Enjoy it: the most important thing of all is to have fun!

But just think of all the money you will save on transport costs, not to mention improving your fitness. And you are sure to enjoy the satisfaction of avoiding that daily traffic jam or sweaty, packed train.

Healthy family fun

To find out more about Soreen’s nutritional snacks and for more cycling tips for you and your family, visit soreencycleproject.com



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