Our colleague Ross has been working for Edinburgh Bike Coop for 8 years and splits his time between the Bruntsfield branch and the Marketing team. He has written about his experiences from his daily commute to hopefully encourage more people to take it up and maybe there will be some tips for more seasoned commuters also. Over to Ross…
I have been commuting to and from work for a number of years now (a round trip of 30 miles/50 km) and thought it might be useful to let you know some of the things that I have learned in that time. I cycle in all weathers now, but it certainly didn’t start that way and I have built up my equipment and resolve over the years. Here are some of my insights.
The thought of rain is worse than being in the rain
Your alarm clock has just woken you up and the rain is battering against the window. The natural thought is “I’m not going out cycling in this” but I have found that being out in the rain is never as bad as the thought of going out in the rain (provided, of course, you have clothing and equipment fit for purpose). I actually really enjoy cycling in the rain now but this is only after building up the necessary equipment
We have a great range of Cycling Jackets
The correct clothing makes all the difference
When I first started cycling, I would scrabble together my non-cycling specific warmer and more waterproof clothing for cold wet days but it soon became apparent that a) I was wearing a LOT of clothes and b) they got wet and heavy very quickly. Buying good quality clothing makes cycling much more comfortable and efficient as the clothing will wick sweat away and can be water-resistant, waterproof and/or thermal – there really are lots of options for lots of different weathers.
See our Cycling Clothing
The correct equipment makes all the difference
Particularly, puncture resistant tyres and mudguards. Depending on where your commute takes you will depend on how puncture resistant your tyres need to be. I am on a mixture of roads and cycle paths and for my circumstances I choose to go for puncture resistance over speed as there is lots of glass and other tyre puncturing materials on the roads and paths (this also seems to get worse in wintertime). The extra time that the slower, more puncture resistant tyres add is less than that if I get a puncture. I am curently using the Schwalbe Marathon Plus as I had a really bad run and was sick of punctures - the Schwalbe Marathon Plus are exceptional puncture resistant tyres. I find mudguards a must as they keep me cleaner but also, just as importantly, they keep my bike cleaner too.
Knowing how to change a tube is a biggie
Unfortunately, even the most puncture resistant tyres are not puncture proof and it is horrible to be stuck in the middle of nowhere without the knowledge or equipment to fix a puncture. That long walk back to civilisation is the worst especially wearing clip-in shoes. For this reason, I recommend everyone carries all the spares required to fix a roadside flat (spare tube or 2, tyre levers and a pump) and has the knowledge to do so. Trust me, it beats a long walk or calling round family and friends to come and pick you up.
Winter Mornings can be the best
Motivation isn’t a problem when cycle commuting becomes the norm
Now that cycling is the main mode of transport I use to get to work, it takes motivation out of the equation. I have to get to work, therefore I have to cycle. Because cycling is now the norm for me, the part that requires motivation would be to figure out how to drive/train/tram, where to park, what if the trains are cancelled etc etc.
I would 100% consider an electric bike
Cycling home from work the other night, I was cycling into a 40mph headwind - the type that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs and throw your bike into a river. I remember distinctly thinking, as I was giving max effort to go 12kph, that I would give anything for an electric bike at that point. There are days too that my legs could do with a break and an e bike would be excellent for that also. They just make sense in so many scenarios.