Once you’ve checked the weather forecast, fuelled up for the day ahead, and perhaps rolled up your right trouser leg slightly, how else can you make your cycle to work more enjoyable?
In my generously-sized dream house there’s a generously-sized garage with seven bikes lined up in a row, and each one labelled with a different day of the week.
How to cycle to work with a smile on your face every day
Leave 10 minutes earlier
I find that when I cut my journey too fine, I end up chomping at the bit if I get stuck at lots of red lights or hit an unexpected holdup. Leaving a bit earlier allows you some slack, and means you don’t have to go pedal-to-the-metal for your entire commute. (And yes, it does mean getting up 10 minutes earlier, but think about how you could spend those spare 10 minutes when you do arrive at work… another coffee perhaps?)
Be prepared for a puncture
You don’t need to know how every last component on your bike works (I certainly don’t) but learning to fix a puncture can take a huge weight off your mind. Instead of dreading a flat tyre and the ensuing search and rescue mission to the nearest bike shop, you’ll be completely self-sufficient. Carry a spare inner tube, pump and levers with you — and for bonus points wrap it all in a tool-roll that you can easily transfer between bags or stash under your saddle.
Take the scenic route
A couple of years ago I accidentally ended up with a perfect commute: through London’s Victoria Park and then along the Regent’s Canal towpath. Since then I’ve always experimented with my routes to work, with the aim of taking in green spaces whenever possible. (The cycling directions on Google Maps or Citymapper will help you tweak your route — and if you have a folding bike you could even hop on a train for some of the way to open up new options.) Taking in a park may add a few extra minutes to your journey, but scientific research shows that exposure to greenery does Good Things to our brains. Combine this with the physical health benefits of cycling and you’ll be invigorating your body and your brain each time you hop on your bike.
Pad your posterior
For those of us with longer journeys to work, some additional comfort is always welcome… especially on the journey home. You don’t need to wear an outfit that screams “Roadie!” though — our padded boxers can be discreetly worn under your shorts or trousers. And because they’re made from merino, they’re also odourless and highly breathable. Now if only the same could be said for London’s air…
Remember that it’s not a race
It’s easy to get riled up when someone whizzes past you. (Personally I find it extra hard if said person is on a Brompton, which inevitably is the case). But… it’s not a race, so who cares if people are overtaking you? Taking things at your own pace reduces aggro and gives you more time to take in the passing cityscape, or chew over the day ahead. And while you’re at it, consider turning Strava off too. After all, unless you’re Chris Froome, there’s always going to be someone faster than you.
Whilst we can’t control the traffic or the weather, we always have complete control over one thing — our reaction to what happens during the journey.
How do you maximise enjoyment on your cycle to work?