June 4th, 2012
Just picture it. Glorious sunshine, the birds are singing, a cool morning breeze moves through the trees, woodland animals scamper about before the heat of what promises to be another beautiful day. Shame you’re stuck behind a steering wheel, separated from all this by a sheet of toughened glass (and you can’t hear the birds anyway because Chris Moyles is gurning from the speaker). There has to be a better way. Right?
In Part One of our Beginner’s Guide to Commuting, we look at the benefits of commuting and explode the myths that might be stopping you from getting to work on two wheels.
Commuting: what’s in it for you?
Commuting to work has a ton of benefits for the wider world around us (it’s around 10 times more carbon efficient than the most efficient petrol car). But what is it going to do for YOU?
- ·Save money I’ve just done a quick calculation, and my daily commute will save me £1908.00 this year, in fuel costs alone. That’s the holiday paid for. And if you’re a UK PAYE taxpayer, you can save up to £1000 off the cost of a new bike with CycleScheme, part of the Government’s plan for us all to get fitter and look after the environment.
- ·FitterWith the aid of a heart monitor, I found that one leg of my cycle commute burnt 900 calories. Twice a day makes 1800
calories. I’d need to do three gym sessions to burn that much energy. How much is your gym membership costing you?
- ·Happier Cycling is proven to improve self esteem and stress. Get fitter and you’ll feel better about yourself – and it will show. Be prepared for people telling you you look great!
- ·More Productive People who cycle to work experience a lift in productivity. And getting things done quicker means more time to relax. Chasing promotion? Start pedalling.
- ·Sex Yes, you read that right. Your sex drive will increase. Research shows that with stress and fatigue reduced libido increases. This is bolstered by the increase in testosterone due to exercise.
- ·Burn calories when doing……..nothing It’s the weekend and you collapse on the sofa to reflect on a week’s worth of cycle commuting. But while you’re lazing around, don’t worry – your week of pedalling has powered up your basal metabolic rate (how many calories you burn when doing nothing), so sit back, relax and burn some calories without even noticing.
Still not convinced? You’ve probably got a few reservations left, and I’ll bet they include some of the following.
Cycle commuting: exploding the myths
- It’s dangerous Motor traffic is a common fear factor for would-be cycle commuters. Your commute may include sections on roads, some of them busy. However, several studies have shown that the real risks of cycling on roads are minimal and, the research suggests, are outweighed by the health benefits by a factor of around twenty to one. It may be more risky to your health to be sedentary. Your safety on the road can depend greatly on your own behaviour and attitude.
- ·I’ll turn up to work sweaty Unless you opt for an electric bike and let it do all the work for you, I can’t guarantee you won’t sweat while you’re cycling. But if you choose the right clothing and plan ahead, you can avoid the ‘freshly-washed tomato’ look when you arrive at the office. Firstly, dress correctly for the time of year. If there’s a slight chill in the morning air, don’t be tempted to reach for the thermal jacket. Once you start pedalling, your body temperature is going to increase significantly. The best advice is to wear lightweight layers that you can easily remove and stash away (ideally in your back pocket) as you warm up. Secondly, plan ahead: know what facilities are available for changing and freshening up, and make sure you’ve packed everything you need (see Part Two of this Guide for more tips). Give yourself enough time when you arrive to get yourself sorted and presentable. And remember – you don’t have to perform a lung-bursting personal best every morning. Sometimes it’s nice to just bimble along.
- ·It takes more time My car journey to work takes half an hour; cycling takes fifty minutes. A daily forty minute ‘penalty’ for a scenic ride through the woods, with an added bonus of keeping fit. Not so bad really. And in fact, research by Citroen shows that if you commute by bike in the UK’s major cities, you’ll get there in half the time of a car. Yes, that’s Citroen, the car manufacturer, telling us it’s quicker by bike.
- ·What about when it rains? Again, the key is to be prepared. There are clothing options to cover pretty much everything the British weather can throw at you – check out our Guide to cycle clothing for all our tips on how to dress right on a bike.
- ·I’ll look an idiot Well. It’s true that skin-hugging Lycra isn’t everyone’s most flattering look. But there’s a style of cycle clothing to suit everyone these days. And consider what we have already talked about. When somebody sees you in your cycling gear they know you are fitter, happier, more productive and an animal in the sack.
- ·It’s really hard work My Grandmother rides a bike every day. She’s 76. Man up.
Ready to take the plunge? Look out for Part Two of our Beginner’s Guide to Commuting, where we help you get ready for your first commute, and give you our top tips for cycle commuters.