Recently Katie’s been tempting you all with delicious morsels of advice on commuting to work by bike / by foot / via the gym – so I thought I would add a couple of tidbits from my own experiences in the world of London’s superhighways to this smorgasbord of tips and tricks… Okay, I’ll leave the grossly extended food analogy now. And possibly make a snack before continuing to write.
- Indulge in a liquid breakfast
Okay, so my morning generally starts between 6.30 – 7am, depending on what time I need to get into the office. Not being much of a breakfast eater at the best of times, the idea of stomaching actual food at this hour (especially before a 40min bike ride) fills me horror. Enter, my juicer – my pride and joy – and his wee sidekick, blender. Although I really struggle to force down a couple of slices toast without feeling a bit on the queasy side 20 minutes into my cycle, I seem to be able to knock back a freshly squeezed juice or smoothie without any associated nausea – hooray!
Not only does a liquid breakfast allow me to not miss out on “the most important meal of the day” (my mother would be proud), but it has also increased my daily fruit and veg intake, without me really even trying! Winning. It might sound a bit gross to be adding the juice or pulp of green vegetables to the mix, but honestly, if you whip up a smoothie that sounds dreamy (think mango, orange, ginger, coconut water) and add a good handful of raw or frozen curly kale before blasting it all together, you genuinely can’t tell! I mean sure, it looks like rancid pond water, but if you close your eyes and knock it back, you could just as easily be on a perpetually-in-a-rush-I-should-probably-leave-the-house-to-get-to-that-meeting tropical, desert Island.
Look out for a blog post about juice and smoothies in the not too distant future, if that’s your cup of, er, kale juice.
- Mud guard
That’s right Spatterer, I’m talking to you. Do your fellow cyclists a favour, invest in a mud guard. Cycle Superhighway 7 may feel like le Tour de France on a Monday morning, but let me break it to you matey, it aint. A tiny bit of drag caused by a flimsy sheath of metal is not going to ruin your ride, but it is going to make mine one hell of a lot better.
- A healthy respect for your fellow road user, a.k.a. Assume everyone is an enraged maniac
So, although I totally buy in to the notion that exercise is good for the mind as well as the body, and starting the day with a quick burst of outdoor activity can only be a good thing, there have been occasions on this journey where I have been enraged by other cyclists. I can only imagine how regular car-driving commuters feel about some of our behaviour. It’s pretty simple guys, follow the rules of the road and give those around you at least a hint as to what you might do next. Not indicating is a sin.
All joking aside, Cyclists would be a lot safer in cities if there was a mutual respect between them and other vehicle users – one way to achieve this? Don’t leave the poor chaps guessing at whether they’re about to inadvertently kill you.
- Tights on tights is a totally legit fashion choice
Yup, the joy of layers! I wear a pair of ordinary tights under my cycling leggings on chilly morning – it is a toasty dream. I must point out that I bring a second pair to change into at the office. And I don’t wear the leggings at my desk. But otherwise, go wild with the layers, crew!
5. Learn not to give a s**t
We’ve all seen them around the office. The MAMILS (middle aged men in Lycra). Lunging their belegginged nether regions up against your desk whilst you’re trying to enjoy your morning coffee. Figuratively speaking of course. Most of the time, anyway. They’re all kitted out in the very latest gear and for the six weeks a year they religiously cycle in to work, they’re basically Bradley Wiggins.
I cycle in to work all year round, rain or shine. I’ve built up a good stock of kit that is comfy and breathable / waterproof / insulating / reflective for all occasions and have given up caring what I look like in it. Add to that the fact that I ride a very old, but very reliable, commuter bike with a double-pannier on the rack (I get up to a lot of hijinks in my spare time and am often laden with the associated paraphernalia) and I must look like a cyclist only a mother could love. I just don’t care. I am cool / dry / warm / alive and can cart my stuff around without any hassle at all. So what if I look like a bit of nutter?
- Give yourself a break
You know what, sometimes it’s okay to wake up and think “Nope. Today is a Tube day”. Maybe you did a particularly heavy weights session the night before and the old quads are just not feeling it, or perhaps you’re just bloody knackered. Don’t beat yourself up, you can get back on it tomorrow.
It’s like riding a bike.