Lifestyle: Commuting to work by cycling is becoming increasingly popular, with more and more people using their bikes as an inexpensive and healthy means of getting to work each day.
To make your ride as smooth as possible, here are a few considerations you should keep in mind.
Regular maintenance and safety checks
Firstly, check your tires on a regular basis. Make sure they’re inflated properly, as underinflated tires can lead to loss of speed and can cause your rims to become damaged. To find the correct pressure, check the pressure range on the sidewall of the tire.
Some regular maintenance is also required to keep your bike running efficiently. Ensure your chain is not dry, but is oiled with a product specifically designed for bicycles, as this will increase your efficiency and avoid damaging the transmission component of your bike. If your bike has gotten into some muddy terrain on your most recent rides, make sure to also hose it down and wipe off any grime and dirt with a toothbrush, cog brush or damp cloth. While you’re at it, also scrub the jockey wheels and clean the sprockets. Clean sprockets will shift faster and last longer. Don’t forget to clean the chain ring to get rid of any grit, and generally hose down all parts at the end of your session before drying. And one final thing – don’t forget to lubricate the chain and jockey wheels once they have dried.
Routine safety checks are also advisable. So make sure the skewers on the quick release wheels are correctly tightened to avoid nasty surprises on your commute. Similarly, be sure to check once in a while, and if necessary, tighten the bolts on the stem and handlebar.
What to carry and wear on your ride
Being prepared for the unexpected is also helpful, so make sure you carry a repair kit, tire iron, handy multi tool, and short pump, which are all essential to repairing a flat tire or tightening any bolts.
Preparation also extends to wearing the right clothing. Occasionally you might come across commuters who are able to get through their morning commute wearing something like a business suit. However, generally speaking a more comfortable option would be to opt for more cycling-appropriate clothing for your commute. Be prepared for changeable weather, and try to wear multiple lighter layers, which will allow you to change quickly, should the weather unexpectedly turn. Depending on where you live, you might be required by law to wear a helmet, so it’s best to invest in an adjustable helmet that also allows for good air circulation. In addition, you might find an ass saver, or a fender, useful in protecting your pants from rain and dirt that might splash up from your back wheel during your ride. The foldable versions are very practical for commuters, as they can easily be removed and packed away when they’re not needed.
Cycling in the city
Cyclists can be left vulnerable in city traffic, so it’s important to make sure you are visible on the bike, so check that your front and back lights are working, and consider wearing reflective clothing, particularly if you’re cycling in the dark. One of the newer items on the market is the Knog blinder, which provides a very strong bright light and can be charged through your computer’s USB port. Last but not least, depending on where you park your bike during the day, a bike lock may also be necessary, to make sure that at the end of the day, your ride is still waiting for you where you left it. In addition, you can also use a cord to secure your front wheel if you are worried that it might go astray.
Following some of these tips should help make your commute to work a smooth ride. If you’re after some more basic ideas on how to start out or improve your cycling, have a read of our article ‘Hitting the road: tips for starting out cycling.’