Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Advice to new commuter cyclists from a new cyclist.

Even though I have less than a weeks experience cycling to work, and I am sure there are lots of better sources of advice, here are some things I wish I knew before I hit the road on two wheels.

1. Make sure you get a bike that is the right size for you and the seat is set at the correct height. I have seen that a correct setup up makes a huge difference to your comfort and lets you ride for much longer with less effort.

2. Plan your route beforehand and if you have an Android phone, plot it out in google maps and you will be able to check your route wherever you are. If you are in London use the tfl cycle planner , it will pull out routes you probably haven’t thought of yourself. Also you can export the route from tfl as a gpx file, which can be converted to kml which goes straight into google maps. This can be a bit fiddly so read my post with full instructions to see how.

Also OpenCycleMap.org is a really useful website which highlights cycle routes around the UK. I found a few hidden shortcuts from here.

You can also order free cycle maps from tfl which cover all of London. It shows generally the same info as what's on OpenCycleMap, but it's useful to have in your bag in case you get lost. 

30-Sep-2010 - In recent days I've also discovered the CycelStreets website and iphone app. It provides a route planner like the one from tfl but a lot faster and intuitive. They are also developing an android version , but there is already an app out there which uses the same engine called BikeRoute which seems pretty good.


3. A pannier bag is definitely better than a rucksack to carry your bits and pieces. With a pannier I hardly notice the extra weight of even a bulkyish laptop. Also a rucksack restricts you movements and makes your back really sweaty.

I picked up this one for £30 from Evans. Does the job.

4. If you hit a steep incline, there’s no shame in walking. When you’re new steep uphill climbs are daunting and can feel humanly impossible to tackle. It’s better getting off and pushing the bike for a minute or so, then trying to pedal against the big G(ravity) and move at a snail’s pace.



5. Think about where you’re going store the bike at home and work. Lot’s of offices in the city have great facilities to lock up your bike in loading bays and other securish places in or around the building. At home think about whether you are going to keep it in or outside and whether there is something strong and secure enough to lock your bike to.


6. Register your bike for free at bikeregister.com. Get the serial code from your bike. On my Ridgeback Meteor it's hidden under the bottom of the frame where the pedals are. If your bike gets nicked,  and the police recover the bike, they will be able to find you.

And finally…

7. You can probably ride for longer than you can think. I thought I wouldn’t be able to ride 9 miles straight away, but I did it okay and I have real average fitness. I’m not being modest, and I am out of breadth if I run up the stairs.

There are also loads of useful information elsewhere on the web:

http://www.cyclelifestyle.co.uk/
http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/11598.aspx

1 comment:

  1. if you've got an iphone then get the cyclestreets.net app - it's brilliant for route planning.

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