Cycling to work: My experience and some tips

Cycling to work

I can’t believe it, it’s been over 4 weeks since I started cycling to work! This is not something I decided to do out of pleasure, the route to work couldn’t excite me less. This is something I started doing out of need and convenience, just to make my life easier and to save time.

Previously I would walk to work but since the company I work for moved offices I was left with two choices: either to get 2 or 3 buses to get to work or to cycle for around 25 minutes. The latter option seemed better as it meant less hassle and frustration with buses. It also meant I could sleep longer in the morning as cycling to work is faster than taking buses. 

So what’s like to commute to work on a bike? Well, it’s different as it requires different preparation than if you are commuting by public transport. I show you how different it is in a minute, but first let’s see the benefits of doing it.

Benefits of cycling to work

There are a lot of benefits when commuting on a bike, just to mention some of them (and why you should cycle to work as well):

  • You get to exercise, the first thing in the morning! We all know, exercise is good for you
  • There are no traffic jams with bikes: there is no waiting around and you can pedal on the pavement to avoid queuing. This means only one thing – getting to work faster!
  • If you struggle to fit exercise into your life, cycling to work is one way of increasing your activity levels
  • Being outside means you get some vitamin D when the sun is shining
  • No waiting for buses! You have the freedom to start your journey whenever you like
  • You save money as you don’t have to pay for petrol or public transport

I love all the benefits of cycling to work but there are some downsides as well. Not going to mention any just yet as I want to tell you all about my experience and what has changed for me first.

One of the hills on my way to work (in the distance)
One of the hills on my way to work (in the distance)

How have things changed for me?

Indeed, things have changed for me, especially my routine. And that’s not all. Cycling to work brings more changes to your life than you think. Just read on to see what has changed for me.

1. My morning routine

When my work was just 20-minute walk from my flat, I would wake up quite late in the morning, around 7.45am. Cycling to work means that I have to get up earlier of course (around 7.30am), but not as early as if I was commuting on public transport.

When I get up I still have warm water with lemon, followed by herbal tea – that hasn’t changed. What has changed is my breakfast which has been reduced in size. This is because I don’t want to overload my stomach before exercising. The route I take is not flat, there are a few hills on the way which make me work hard and sweat. For this reason, I now have around 3 heaped tablespoons of muesli with some blueberries, not too much to affect my ability to cycle but enough to keep me going for almost 3 hours. Later at work, I would have my second breakfast which is chia pudding with blueberries and banana (recipe coming soon!).

Route profile
Route profile

2. My evening routine

In the evening I like to do as many chores as possible so that in the morning I focus on things which take less time. So I prepare my lunch which would normally be some kind of salad, sometimes I make a cheese sandwich if I can’t be bothered. I also prepare my second breakfast, chia pudding (I soak chia seeds, some nuts, flaxseeds and desiccated coconut in almond milk. The next day I would add some fruits to it).

My evening preparation for work is mainly food preparation but I also do the ironing. Before, I wouldn’t have two breakfasts, only one big one so I guess this is now taking slightly more of my time.

3. Fitness routine

Before I started cycling to work I would go to spin class every Tuesday. Now, when I get back home I really don’t feel like going for a spin. I just cycled for around 25 minutes at the end of the day! I actually stopped going to spin classes but I would still go once in a while on Saturday, if I am free.

Not only I stopped going to spin classes, you will almost not see me in the gym these days. I might go once a week to work on my arms, abs and back but if not I would just do a home workout concentrating on these muscles. I am currently less motivated to go to the gym because I am already active for around 1 hour a day (including lunch walks). At the weekends I am not idle either. We tend to go hiking or for shorter walks, depending on the weather. At the moment I am actually more active than before. Before, I would go to the gym twice during the week and have one workout at home, now I am active every day.

Another hill..

4. Food, weight and muscles

Surprisingly, despite being more active I seem to have gained weight! I can feel it around my stomach area.

All these activities have made me more hungry so now I eat more often and more. When I come home from work I feel really hungry so I have some snacks like nuts or hummus or whatever is available. I then have a dinner about one hour later. But I don’t think this is the cause for my weight gain. It’s more about giving into temptation at work.

For a few weeks there was always something being offered around the office, like biscuits, cakes, etc. Nothing healthy of course but I just thought I would have a few treats since I am quite active. But the problem is that I had too much of a bad stuff over time and now I am working on it, trying to find a way of how not give into temptation. It’s a hard one because I have a sweet tooth and this is my big weakness! I am normally really healthy eater but offer me something with chocolate and I will crumble.. However, my strategy at the moment is that if I decide to have a treat, I always go for the smallest piece or just a bite, which many times gives me enough satisfaction without extra calories. It normally works but not always, and this is something I need to work on.

While cycling to work did increase my appetite, it’s also made me stronger. My leg muscles seem to be bigger now, with calf muscles more defined. I am not that pleased about gaining muscles on my already big thighs but that’s what happens when you do the cycling. I am sure many men would want their legs to be bulkier though! If you are one of them, I highly recommend cycling.

So cycling to work has been all fun. Or not exactly.

Here are the things which I didn’t love:

  • The weather  Surprisingly most of the time the weather was good, if it wasn’t sunny, at least it wasn’t raining. But on few occasions I was caught up in the shower and ended up waiting under the cover until the rain stopped. I don’t have mudguards so when cycling the water would spray all over me! I still haven’t got around to buying mudguards but it’s on my list!
  • Getting all sweaty – The route I take means a really good morning workout for me. This results in me coming to work all sweaty and spending around 10 minutes wiping myself with baby wipes. 
    Wearing a waterproof jacket while cycling made sweating even worse! A waterproof jacket is a necessity but only wear it if it rains. I learnt that if it’s a bit cold in the morning it’s better to wear arm warmers which are also on my list to buy.
  • Crossing busy roundabouts – During my bike ride to work I cross quite a few roundabouts (by using pedestrian paths) and one of them is particularly busy and sometimes I have to wait for a while before traffic clears or somebody gives me the way. Nothing to love here!

Arriving at work all messy, after the rain shower

Don’t let my dislikes put you off though. Cycling to work is still great and if your work is up to 5 miles away from your home, you should definitely consider cycling. The distance I do every day is almost 14 km in total, almost 7 km one way. This takes around 25 minutes. If your route is flat, it should take less time.

Cycling to work tips

Just a few tips for you if you decide that cycling to work is a good idea:

  1. Wear a helmet – Depending on where you live, traffic could be pretty bad in the morning so wearing a helmet is essential if you plan to cycle mostly on the road. I cycle mostly on the pavement and pedestrian paths, just to stay safer.
  2. Plan to arrive at work at least 10 minutes before you start – changing into your work clothes and refreshing yourself takes time so do take this into account before you depart from your home. Don’t forget to pack some baby wipes and deodorant!
  3. Pack your bike pump and puncture repair kit, just in case.
  4. Be extra vigilant on the road – Cars go fast and they come from all kind of directions. On junctions check all the possible directions where the cars could come from. Look twice and only proceed when 100% sure.
  5. Drivers don’t indicate! – Don’t ever rely on drivers indicating. Most of the time drivers don’t indicate when turning. Observe their direction before crossing the road. If you are not sure in which direction the vehicle is going, wait.
  6. Be prepare for the weather to change – There are many mornings when it’s nice and sunny, however, afternoons can be very different, many times it rains. Pack your waterproofs and be prepared for the worst. If it does rain when you have to cycle, wait 5 minutes. It could make a big difference. British weather changes really fast!
  7. Buy mudguards! – If you don’t have them already, buy mudguards, strongly recommended. On few occasions I cycled after the shower and it really wasn’t fun – my front wheel was literally throwing water on me!
  8. Cycling essentials – If you are not totally sure what essentials you need to start to cycle to work check this article.

So there you have it, my experience of cycling to work and some tips for you! Do you have any tips to add?

11 Comments

    1. I am totally aware of it Sarah, thanks! Everybody is doing it especially on busy roads and if they started going after everbody they would be really busy. I think they have better things to do.It’s very dangerous on busy roads. I’d rather cycle on pavement than risk my life.

    1. Your ride is much longer than mine. How long does it take you? Is the road hilly? I have to start thinking about autumn gear now as I am only ready for summer!

  1. It takes about 30 minutes if I really go for it but there are a few hills! I don’t have any ‘proper’ cycling gear, I just wear shorts and a t-shirt (my gym clothes!) although I might have to get something more substantial when winter comes!

    1. You’re quite fast then! I could do it in 20 minutes if I really want to but normally I spend quite some time waiting at roundabouts for a good opportunity to cross. Getting back home is also faster for me as it’s more downhill than uphill! I think when it’s colder you will definitely need some warm clothing

  2. I am a runner myself and yes, I do cycling a lot. I am just glad to read your post about it and get some tips and advice. Thanks a lot for sharing this one. Now, I am very much inspired to stay fit and healthy.

  3. I love cycling. I am a runner, I do cycling a considerable measure. I am quite recently happy to peruse your post about it and get a few tips and exhortation. Much appreciated for sharing this one. Presently, I am especially propelled to remain fit and solid.

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