How to: Start Riding To Work (or Wherever!)

beginner tips Sep 20, 2021

We all know riding bikes is fun (duh!), but if you're looking to incorporate bike riding into more than a recreational activity - like riding to work, meetings or errands - it can also save you money and get you fitter!

So what’s stopping you? Here are the answers to give common reasons we tell ourselves we can't ride to the dentist, the supermarket or to the office...

1) I can't be bothered changing into and out of cycling kit

This one largely depends on where you're going and how far it is, but - generally speaking - it's a big myth that you need to be in cycling clothes to ride a bike. Sure, if you're planning on doing hill repeats or a 50km training ride before work we recommend being as comfortable as possible in sweat-wicking lycra, padded shorts or chamois and the normal attire. 

But if you're wanting to incorporate more riding into the everyday errands side of things, you'll find there are lots of options that don't involve getting changed.

  • Avoid cotton with sweat-wicking look-alike clothing suitable for an office or venues requiring you to be dressed 'nicely'
  • For longer commutes or rides you can wear padded underpants under your normal skirt, dress, shorts or pants
  • If you prefer to clip in, you can wear flat shoes with embedded cleats so you don't clip clop around. 

2) I don't have time 

Again, it depends how far you live from where you need to get, but even this myth can be busted.

  • Multi-modal transport options: combine a bike ride with a train or bus trip to save time if you live 20 minutes or more away from your work or appointment
  • Compare the trip time: in Google Maps by driving and cycling, and you might be surprised - especially if you need to get somewhere at a peak traffic time
  • Invest in an e-bike: if you need to navigate hilly terrain or you don't feel you have a very fast average pace, an e-bike may be a great investment!

3) I don't want to get sweaty and gross

The bicycle is a tremendously efficient means of transportation. In fact cycling is more efficient than any other method of travel--including walking! It takes less energy to bicycle one kilometre than it takes to walk the same distance. In fact, a bicycle can be up to 5 times more efficient than walking.

It may pay to examine whether this is to do with the type of appointment you're going to, or whether it's a pre-conceived idea you have that isn't accurate. Again, we're talking about using a bike to transport yourself to work or an appointment - not doing hill repeats before a big meeting.

If you're cruising along at a normal pace, your heartrate will likely only get to 40-60% of your maximum, meaning you may not get as 'sweaty and gross' as you might think! 

4) I don't know my way by bike

Whether you normally take corridor public transport or are geographically challenged, navigation - especially when trying to stay safe and get where you need to go - is a biggie. If it's a stressor for you, there are a few ways to make things easier:

  • Technology like Strava, Ride with GPS and Google Maps can help you find the right routes - even combining on and off-road elements if you want! - to get where you need to go
  • Get a buddy to show you the way (we have some exciting news coming on that front - stay tuned here)
  • Do a practice run a few days beforehand, if practical! Take a look for a cafe nearby and use it as an excuse to head out the weekend before and scope out your proposed route.

5) I have too much stuff to take with me

Raise your hand if you have a huge handbag or purse filled with lord knows what that you have to take everywhere because you can't be bothered sorting through it? Yep, that would be most of us.

If what you need to take with you is a 'normal' amount of stuff (and not carting huge signs, wide loads or things likely to make your ride dangerous), there are a few great options:

  • A bike with a basket or panniers will allow you to plonk your existing bag straight in without having to re-pack or re-organise anything
  • A backpack can be an easy one, especially if you have a laptop or electronics (though this can make you a bit 'sweaty and gross', especially if you are off to a work meeting or are wearing dress-style clothing
  • Waist pack is a good alternative to a backpack if you are carrying less than a full backpack amount - and it won't make your back sweaty.

At the end of the day (oh no, I've become my mother), if you really want to give something a try, you'll find a way to overcome minor obstacles. Hopefully this list helps you work out some of the early challenges!