Are You a Reluctant Cyclist?
Posted on 04 January 2017
Want to make a real change this year… and make it past the 15 January? We all know the benefits of cycling to work: cheaper, fitter, healthier, happier… more intelligent (obviously). If the upside is so apparent, why isn’t everyone doing it?
We’re so darn into cycling that sometimes we can’t understand this. So we’ve done a bit of soul-searching.
A case study helps. Meet my friend Joni, the ultimate cycling procrastinator.
Joni plays football, basketball, rugby. You get the profile - she’s not afraid to get stuck in! She lives less than 7km from work… and I’m trying to get her to see the light!
She gave me 6 good reasons: I will try and troubleshoot each one and give some cycle style tips too.
1. Joni says “we’ve no showers at work and I don’t want to arrive a sweaty mess”
We say: you will develop a technique over time called the optimum-exertion-pace. It’s simple: go at a pace where your sweat is cancelled out by the breeze! It also helps to have a decent breathability rating on your clothing. I refer to some kit as “boil in the bag” – avoid at all costs.
2. Joni says “But my hair, my make-up, my clothes!”
We say: We hear you - let’s break it down.
Bottom half: roads are dirty so we need to work with that. I used to work in a formal office job, so I wore leggings on the bottom with trainers and then bring my work bottoms in my bag. Sporty below, business on top. I’d always bring a pair of waterproof trousers in my bag in case of serious downpours. Check out our Elemental Rain Trousers here.
Top half: I cycle at optimum-exertion-pace (see above) so I’d wear my full work clothes on top. You look a bit funny but who cares? It’s only for a short period. Over this outfit wear a waterproof, breathable jacket or coat. This is essential. Check out our Drench Coat here.
The face: you have a choice: put your make-up on at home and top-up at work… or keep a separate whole makeup kit at work. I opt for the top-up option.
The hair: I’m going to be honest here, cycling is not good with hair! But you do develop two-things: 1. Helmet-hair-don’t-care attitude 2. Hair techniques: keep whatever utensils at your workplace be in dry shampoo, hair straighteners, hair-spray, clips. Then you can tame the beast.
Pro-tip #1: keep a spare set of clothes at work. I’m not the sharpest in the morning so I tend to forget things. I keep spare tights, clips, skirt, shoes at work just in case.
Pro-tip #2: get your bag ready the night before to avoid morning panic.
Pro-tip #3: wear sunglasses to avoid eye and mascara streaming.
3. Joni says “Cycling on main roads is daunting. What about changing lanes, roundabouts?”
We say: Right, as adults we forget that practice makes perfect. Everybody has to learn sometime. So you’ve got to get on your bike at off-peak times to develop that awareness. It’s like motherhood: you don’t suddenly just know everything the baby needs, you develop a relationship with it, it gives you feedback and then you become more confident. The same goes for road awareness – practice makes perfect.
Pro-tip #4: I recommend that if junctions are tricky, then get off your bike and ‘pedestrian’ through them until such time you’ve built up the confidence to cycle through them.
4. Joni says “I don’t know how to handle buses and trucks”
We say: Trucks and buses are intimidating, right? You feel like a little fly barely on their radar. Trucks and buses can have large ‘blind spots’ so never wait right next to them. As a rule of thumb, stay back or sit ahead.
5. Joni says “I don’t have storage space for my bike”
We say: Fair point. Bike theft is galling… it sends us cyclists into a rage-black-out. Folding bikes are really quite cool these days, as are bike racks (where your bike becomes a piece of art!). Look at this great upcycled bike rack. Another option is asking your property manager to put in some secure bike racks.
6. Joni says: “The kit…?! Punctures,,,”
We say: like your first day at school, you will need to prepare all your kit the night before to avoid morning-meltdowns. Ok, punctures are a pain, I agree. But for me they really are the exception so I don’t carry a pump and tubes. If I get one, I take the hit of the inconvenience and repair it at home and chalk it off as an unlucky day. See our list below which we use. Is there anything you can’t do without? Please let us know!
This is a new skill and takes practice. Also, before you throw the bike in after your first wobble, remember that it takes 66 days (studies say!) to form a new habit so you need tenacity in your city. But then one day you will find yourself winding through the city with a big content smile on your face.
Do you have any other reasons holding you back? Please share them, we’d love to help!