I was recently inducted to the wonderful world of riding to work. An avid train commuter for years, the idea of riding to work hadn't really occurred to me before, largely due to the fact that I didn't own a bicycle. But after investing in a set of hot pink wheels, I was inspired to ditch the rail trail and roll to work instead!
For anyone out there considering a change of commute, there's never been a better time to switch gears. With the warmer spring weather arriving, why not get some exercise before you start the day by riding or walking to work? Think about it.... Sweaty, cramped train carriage with strangers right up in your grill versus calm, scenic journey with the wind in your hair and sun on your face. What are you waiting for? To help make the change somewhat smoother, here are my top tips to city cycling... enjoy!
1. Love your bike
If you are going to be travelling twice a day on a bicycle, make sure that you love your wheels. Colour your ride with some new sweet accessories so you happily hop onto that saddle each morning. Also, make sure to get your bike serviced regularly and the set up checked at your local bike shop. That way, you can start the day the right way and enjoy a smooth ride to work! If you're cursing that ‘heap of scrap-metal' daily, you'll find it difficult to be in a positive frame of mind by the time you get to your desk.
2. Be prepared for punctures
Most of the time cycling allows you to set your own schedule - you don't have to worry about train delays or traffic jams (nothing feels better than whizzing past a line of cars stuck bumper-to-bumper). Occasionally however, a hidden sharp-object bursts this bubble and gives you a flat. My advice, carry a puncture repair kit and know where you're nearest bike shop is. Just one journey to work on the train when my bike was out of action reminded me that cycling with the occasional puncture was miles better than public transport with the frequent overcrowding and disruptions.
3. Invest in a raincoat
As a walker won't leave the house without a brolly, a rider should never be without a raincoat! As the old adage goes, "there's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing." The Bureau of Metrology (BOM) rain radar will become your new best friend.
4. Always wear flat shoes
This one's for the ladies... for the vertically challenged of us who might consider cycling in heels for the sake of slimmer looking calves, be warned! Pack the high heels and wear your flats instead or you'll end up flat on your face. I learnt the hard way, as I cycled to the local café one morning dressed in my Sunday best. As I approached the red lights, I moved my foot from the pedal to stop but, to my horror, my heel had lodged itself into the pedal and was refusing to move. Unsure of what other option I had, I wobbled precariously for several long seconds before tumbling to the tarmac beneath me. Shamefully, I scraped myself from the pavement and limped off the road to inspect the damage to my beloved shoes.
5. Follow the road rules, be alert and safe
The same rules apply for bikes as they do for drivers so remember that just because you are on two wheels and not four, you're not above the law. Always cycle safely and defensively. To brush up on your knowledge of road rules for cyclists, check out Bicycle Network Victoria for more information.
6. Slip, Slap, Slop, Seek, Slide and Ride!
You can't rely on temperature to know when the UV is at damaging levels so it's a good idea to check the SunSmart UV Alert each day. The SunSmart UV Alert lets you know the times of day you need sun protection and when it's safe to soak up some sun to help with vitamin D. Check it out in all major daily newspapers, on the SunSmart website and the free SunSmart iPhone app.
Well that's it folks. Join the commuter revolution and start riding to work (or even short practise rides) now in preparation for Ride to Work Day, Wednesday 12th October. Head to our friends at Bicycle Network to register and join over 22,000 people who have signed up because ‘life is better on a bike.' Go to http://www.bv.com.au/general/ride-to-work.
Or if you don't have the wheels, you could try out Melbourne BikeShare or sign up to the Cancer Council Walk to Work Day, on Friday 16 September. The annual event helps employers and employees to build regular walking into their daily routine and help raise funds for Cancer Council at the same time! Find out more at http://walktowork.gofundraise.com.au.
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