How cycling to work can kickstart your day

With the summer sun still shining, now is the perfect time to dust off the bike and ride to work. Here’s how to make the most of your two-wheeled commute.

There are few things more frustrating than having to crawl through traffic at a snail’s pace on the way to work.

Or, being shoved up against someone’s armpit on jam-packed public transport.

But for those who live within a reasonable distance to their workplace, there’s a third option: cycling.

Benefits of cycling to work

A two-wheeled commute is not only more relaxing, it’s also better for your health, your finances and the environment.

Using pedal power to get to and from work may require a little more organisation until you get into the routine of it.

But the plus sides far outweigh any minor hassles, according to long-time bike commuter David Adams.

David pedals about 10km each way from Footscray to South Melbourne most days, with 95 per cent of his journey on bike paths.

“It sets you up so much more nicely for the rest of the day – you get the blood pumping; you get the heart beating, and it just changes your mindset before getting into the office,” David says.

What to do before cycling to work

Do a pre-ride check

Before you hit the streets, give your bicycle a once-over to make sure it’s in good working order.

Dust off those cobwebs, pump the tyres, check the brakes and chain, and inspect your helmet to ensure it’s in good nick.

If it’s been a while since your last ride, you may want to consider having the bike serviced.

Find a safe route

The idea of cycling through city traffic can put some people off.

But it’s not necessarily something to be feared, Bicycle Network CEO Alison McCormack says, who notes you’ll probably be going faster than the vehicles around you during peak hour.

For safety, Alison suggests avoiding tricky right-hand turns and taking care around left-turning vehicles too.

Opt for bike paths where possible or stick to bike lanes and keep a firm eye out for drivers, or passengers opening car doors.

Give it a trial run

A trial ride or two over a weekend can help you suss out the best route to work and identify any potential hazards, Alison says.

Another tip? David says you might be better off riding an extra kilometre or two, say on a bike path alongside a river, rather than taking Google Maps’ suggestions as gospel.

Improve your ride

In addition to a well-fitting helmet, the following accessories will help keep you safe and more comfortable during your bike commute, come rain or shine:

  • Bike lock
  • Pannier bags
  • Waterproof jacket (preferably in a bright colour)
  • Lights
  • Spare inner tube
  • Mini pump

What about riding an e-bike to work?

For those who enjoy a bit of exercise but dislike hills, a pedal-assisted electric bike (e-bike) could be the ticket.

A recent study found riding an e-bike brought mental and physical health benefits, and improved overall sense of wellbeing.

Alison says e-bikes are a great entry point for many first-time cyclists, or those who learnt as a child but haven’t ridden for years.

“E-bikes are stable, comfortable and much easier to ride than you’d think,” she says.

“Because they are pedal-assisted, you can still get your heart rate up.”

How to freshen up after cycling to work

Helmet hair, beware! It’s still very possible to look schmick at work after your ride in.

Try leaving a spare set of everything in a locker at work – a towel, toiletries, make-up and maybe even a hair dryer if you’re able to shower, or dry shampoo if you’re not.

Experiment with the best way to keep your clothes as wrinkle-free as possible during your trip, or consider leaving a spare outfit at the office.

For instance, David says in a previous role, he used to drive five pressed shirts into work on one day, then happily cycle for the rest of the week.

More ways to stay active and well at work:

Written by Larissa Ham.