There are big benefits from cycling to work: it’s healthy, it saves money, it’s good for the environment, and you’re almost never late. Yet there’s another good reason to go by bike that’s easily forgotten in the day-to-day humdrum: it’s fun. Not as much fun as weekend leisure riding, sure, but more fun than tapping your steering wheel in a traffic jam or waiting for a delayed train on a draughty platform. You’re still riding your bike, and that in itself is enjoyable – most of the time.
Escape the traffic
Busy roads are noisy and stressful. Find a quieter route and you will enjoy it more. Don’t worry if it’s a bit longer. So long as you set off in good time, a pleasant 30-minute ride beats a nerve jangling 20-minute ride every time.
Finding a quiet route does require more planning. Such routes are seldom direct and are rarely signposted. Try the Cyclestreets Journey Planner, which also exists as a phone app. There are three route options: fastest, balanced, and quietest. Try the quietest, which will favour cycle tracks and backstreets, or the balanced route, which is a compromise between fastest and quietest.
If you’ve got a bicycle that’s capable off-road, such as a mountain bike or cyclocross bike, get your local Ordnance Survey map or invest in the app . Bridleways and unsurfaced roads can be wonderful – especially in summer. Mark up useful segments with a highlighter pen and explore them at the weekend.
Go somewhere new
Having the same destination each day doesn’t compel you to take the same route. Get out of that Scalextric groove! You don’t have to have The Knowledge like London cab drivers, but knowing a few alternatives (and how long they take) can keep things interesting. If you’ve got time on your hands, you can go the scenic way – or simply run some errands. In an a car or on a train, we tend to go directly from A to B. A bike commute doesn’t have to be like that, because you can hop off and park up wherever you please. Integrate your journey into your daily life rather than writing it off as dead time spent travelling. Go from A to B via C and D.
Make it easier
If you always arrive at the office tired and sweaty, you’re working too hard. Conserve your energy. Make sure your bike is well-maintained, with a well-oiled chain and properly-inflated tyres. Lighten the load by rationalising what you take with you.
If that’s not enough, because the journey is simply too far or too hilly, the solution may be a new bike. Option one: a road bike. You can then cruise at speeds that would have you huffing and puffing on a hybrid. Option two: an e-bike. It may be expensive to buy, but if it keeps you cycling it will save you money in the long run.
Make it social
You don’t have to ride on your own, and Cycle to Work Day is the perfect opportunity to arrange to meet a cycling workmate or friend and then cycle in together. There are days when you might give up on the bike if were going by yourself, but if you know someone else is waiting for you, you’ll go to avoid letting them down – and they’ll do the same. The chances are you’ll both enjoy it.
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