Get Fit On Your Way To The Office

Cycling is an easy and accessible form of exercise. By easy I mean almost anyone can do it. Cycle to Work schemes through company's have made it cheaper to get hold of a brand new bike, ebay has made it cheaper still. You can find dozens of almost new, originally very expensive bikes for next to nothing on ebay. Governments and city councils the world round are putting extra effort into cycle schemes to increase safety and break down barriers. Cycle lanes are common place, rent a bikes are in numerous cities, lock up garages specifically for bikes are growing, even the bike manufactuers themselves are selling fold-up commuter bikes that can easily be carried. The barriers are shrinking.    

On top of that, admittedly more relvant to cities, it is almost always quicker to cycle than it is to drive or get public transport. For someone who is training for a triathlon or a road race, a cycle to work can not only mean you can get out of bed a little later, but you won't have to go out and train after you get back from work. It's a win win situation. And then the last benefit, money. Once you have a bike, there is no daily cost of commuting.

                        Vancouver's Bike to Work Week                                              London's Bicyle Super Highways

Take a sample size of one. Me. I live and work in London, my office is around 10km away from my home. Using a 48 week year to allow for a break now and then, by cycling to work I save:

£1500 per year or £30 a week in commuting costs
240 hours per year or 30 minutes a journey
96 hours per year or 2 hours a week because I can reduce my cycle training sessions
210,720 calories per year or 439 calories a journey
and probably a few inches on the waste.

So why don't more people do it? 2 main reasons as far as I can see. Laziness and Safety concerns.                 

                                                                                                                                                         Cycle Paths in Sydney
Laziness. Our resident sports scientist has studied why people respond differently to exercise. Have a read of this short article to assure yourself that that fight you go through to get yourself to do exercise is actually counter-intuitive, you will feel better when you get out there and much better once you have finished.

Safety Concerns. Cycling the city roads, wherever the city is never going to be ideal.   You have traffic including big trucks, buses,
irrate car drivers and the bain of every cyclist, the white van driver. On the other hand there are a lot of stupid cyclists too, jumping red lights, weaving like there is no tomorrow. It need not be like this.

Here are some useful tips compiled from fellow cyclists on things to do and things to watch out for to make your cycle to work as safe and enjoyable as possible. 

- Wear a helmet - It's not rocket science, if you fall off it will save your life.
- Don't jump red lights, it will only save you a few seconds and with all the will in the world you don't know what idiotic white van is around the corner.
- Wear a helmet
- Don't be afraid to block traffic at junctions, you'll be more visible.
- Wear a helmet
- Invest in good visibility clothing and lights.
- Wear a helmet
- Keep your bike oiled and clean, it will make cycling easy and less noisey.                          Cycle Paths in Cape Town
- Wear a helmet
- Don't use standard issue tyres, upgrade them to something reinforced with kevlar (or other materials) as this makes them tougher against things you may run over on your bike such as glass.
- Wear a helmet
- Leave as much gear at work, there is no need to further burden yourself with a change of shoes or a lock if you can avoid it.
- Wear a helmet
- Identify a route that will avoid as many main roads as possible and take in more parks, cycle paths and back streets. There websites to help you plan your route (some are better than others) and you will see and get to know your city a lot more than you already do.             

Some useful links for finding traffic free routes in your city:

Vancouver Cycle Route Finder
Toronto Cycle Route Finder
New York Cycle Route Finder
San Fransicso Cycle Route Finder
London Cycle Route Finder
Manchester Cycle Route Finder
Edinburgh Cycle Route Finder
Cape Town Cycle Route Finder
Johannesburg Cycle Route Finder
Sydney Cycle Route Finder
Melbourne Cycle Route Find


Author Biography:

Nick Merry is a founding partner in Take a Challenge, he has participated in numerous Triathlon, Running and Cycling events over the years. He has been on the teams of high altitude mountain expeditions including Kilimanjaro (19,341ft), Elbrus (18,842ft) and Muztagh Ata (24,757ft) as well as much smaller peaks around the UK and the Alps. Click here to read more about Nick's story.

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