As so many more of us are taking up cycling and commuting to work we wanted to share some tips from some of our staff and pro team to help make it more fun and enjoyable.
Commuting to work by bike definitely has its benefits; it saves money, gets you fit, and can sometimes be quicker than sitting on the roads and motorways that pretty much turn into car parks during the working week.
So, a lot of us at Ribble (pre-lockdown) commute into work and we thought we would share a few tips if you are new to riding or fancy doing the commute to work.
The motivation to do it in summer is always high, so we asked some of the tough riders who commute to work in rain, hail, and sometimes snow. (Sometimes we think they just want the kudos for being out in all weathers but fair play to them.)
Jamie Burrow – Head of Product
I’ve commuted on and off for around two years . I said I would never do it as I was so used to having my riding as structured training for so many years. But after a long period (6 years) off the bike and wanting to lose weight and regain some kind of fitness, my only option was to start commuting due to time restrictions.
Pre-lockdown my direct commute was around 10 miles each way, which I would lengthen to around 20 miles in the morning over summer. Having lost this pattern due to lockdown and initially struggling to motivate myself to effectively ride before work without it actually being an A to B commute, I’m now fully committed and currently riding 2 hours every morning before work.
I initially used panniers but often switched to backpacks as the bike handles better
Jamie’s Top Tips
+ Leave plenty of spare clothes at work. Don’t rely on riding home in the same kit you rode in with.
+ You need to get from A to B anyway. So, as long as the distance isn’t excessive a ride to start the day really sets you up mentally rather than sitting in traffic.
+ Good lights for winter and always more than one front and rear in case of battery failure.
Alan Gray – Copywriter
I’ve been commuting to work now for the best part of 24 years, every day, come rain or shine. Being that this takes place in the North West of England it’s mainly the former.
If I go direct, which I seldom do when the weather’s at least half-decent, it’s only 5 miles each way.
There are various loops that I try to encompass into the rides a couple of times each week which can range anywhere from between 8 miles to approximately 30 depending upon how I’m feeling on the day.
I’ve recently upgraded to a CGR 725 Steel bike because, you know, disc brakes. They make such a difference when you’re commuting day in and day out through the worst of the weather that winter can throw at you. If I feel like taking a more adventurous route into work I can throw on my gravel wheel set-up and do a bit of shredding on my way into work, on the way home or both.
I always keep clothes at work so only tend to carry tools and a packed lunch with me. Pre-CGR I would carry the kit in a backpack but now I have one of those huge saddle bags that expand to fit everything I need into.
Alan’s Top Tips
+ Mudguards. You’ll see people bang on about how they ruin the looks of a bike and ‘you don’t need them’. Trust me they probably don’t ride every day in every sort of weather. Then there are those that do and I see them trying to dry their shoes out at work. It is crazy the difference a pair of mudguards makes, a front guard with a mudflap stops the water being scooped up and sprayed over your shoes and let’s not even talk about that horrific cold wet spray on your derriere. Combine the guards with decent overshoes and you rarely have to worry about drying your shoes. Unlike the fashionistas.
+ Change of clothing. If you have lockers or something similar at work leave your clothing there and just refresh it when needed. I take in a fresh t-shirt and underwear daily and have about 7 pairs of trainers at work, I’m a bit of a trainer addict!
+ Wear layers appropriate to the conditions. I would never buy a thick winter jacket as I much prefer to layer. I tend to overheat on the bike so much prefer to layer up and then shed layers as required. Arm, leg and knee warmers are easy to remove, if you have a big jacket on you’re in trouble. It’s also important to wick that sweat away from the skin so a good undervest is essential. Coolmax in summer and Merino in winter are my favourites.
+ Be visible. As cyclists, we rightly become annoyed at motorists close passing us or at those near misses where you know that they simply did not see you. But you still see too many cyclists riding around in all-black kit. That’s fine for the weekend ride bathed in bright sunshine but not on a murky winters commute. I personally don’t like hi-viz gear but do prefer to wear brighter colours to stand out more and will always run a rear light if the weather is a little meh.
Tom Timothy, Ribble Weldtite Pro Team rider
I commute into Manchester and the recently erected pop-up bike lanes are sweet to ride on. My commute is 20 minutes on the way there on-road and 45 minutes on the way home on gravel.
Tom’s Top Tips
+ Get a decent backpack and rear mudguard to stop any rain or dirt being thrown up as you’re riding.
+ Go off peak if you can.
+ In the evenings ride home along canal paths to avoid traffic.
+ I also leave heavy stuff at work throughout the week under the desk. Shoes, towel (in case it has rained), deodorant, hair stuff. All I carry is a shirt, trousers, laptop, puncture repair kit. Pretty easy in a rucksack.
Kevin McCambridge, Ribble Weldtite Pro Team rider
Last winter I was commuting 5 days a week into college. It was a 60min ride in and a 90min ride home usually. The commute was on my Endurance SL R race bike with training wheels as I rode it all year round but had mudguards. I would use a big backpack to carry my work with me and it was waterproof, so nothing got too wet. I was doing sport so showers and a wash-up area was easy to access.
Kevin’s Top Tips
+ Look at the wind direction the night before so you can leave at the right time.
+ Get into college, or work, in plenty of time before you need to be there to chill out for a while and eat breakfast.
+ Make sure your lights are charged and you are visible.
+ Always take extra kit as the weather can change throughout the day.
+ Eat well throughout the day to fuel your ride home.
Also, Katie Kookburra has shared some of her best commuting tips here:
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