Do you want to boost your fitness and maybe lose some weight? Do you also need to cut your costs and save money? Then why not cycle to work!
Woah! Wait a minute, you're thinking; - won't I already need to be really fit? I don't have the time! I'll be all sweaty when I get there won't I?
With a little thought and planning you can resolve these worries and start enjoying the many benefits of commuting by bike. What's more, here in the UK there is a Government backed scheme to get people cycling to work.
UK Cycle To Work Scheme
Save Money On A New Bike
The scheme means you can purchase a new bike and some safety gear, luggage or accessories and save up to 42% of the purchase value! In essence it works like this; You choose a bike and equipment up to £1000 in value, which your employer purchases and loans to you via a salary sacrifice over a period of 12 months.
After this time you can return the bike and pay nothing more, or you can pay to take ownership of the bike less the deprecation, or the third and recommended option is to sign up to continue use of the bike at no further cost for a fixed term and after this term you take ownership of the bike for a token admin fee. The end result is that you have taken ownership of the cycle but saved up to 42% off the purchase price.
Won't I already need to be fit?
Not really but you soon will be!
Cycling to work exercises the body, it is a fantastic cardio vascular workout , but you don't need to be a 'pro cyclist' even the relatively unfit can start off steady and build up over time. You'll be surprised how only a few rides will see your overall fitness levels improve. I think it's reasonable to cycle up to 10 miles each way, and at a steady pace this would take approximately 1 hour provided it's not too hilly! My advice would be to plan your route in advance, look for relatively flat routes if possible to start with. If you have a road bike or racing bike then you choose routes on roads, if you have a hybrid or mountain bike then you can mix it up a little and choose routes away from motor traffic.
Commuting by bike gives you time to think or clear your head of the stresses of life. Unlike driving which can be stressful in itself, when pedaling you can either focus on your speed or cadence, or think about your to do list or a holiday. I usually arrive at my destination really pumped, full of enthusiasm for the tasks ahead. So physically and mentally it is a beneficial activity.
The Hygene Issue
As employers are encouraged by government to get people to cycle, run or walk to work, many companies have installed washrooms with showers, and cycle racks or lockers. As part of your preparation you need to find out what is available so you can arrive at work and freshen up. No one wants to sit in the office all day in sweaty clothes, and your colleagues probably wouldn't thank you for it either!
Plan and you can do it!
So you're going to give it a go, what do you need to do to succeed and impress your colleagues?
- Find out if your workplace has a shower, or washroom so you can freshen up and change your clothes.
- Plan your route, consider how long it will take and add 20 mins to allow you to freshen up.
- Find out if you can have a locker for your clothes.
- Find out where you can park your bike.
Check your bike, make sure it is roadworthy and you have;
- A pump
- Spare inner tube and/or puncture kit
- A multitool
- Bike lock
- Appropriate clothing
- Change of clothes for work
- Towel, shower gel, Etc.
- A backpack or better, a pannier bag and rack to carry stuff in.
You've planned your route, you've checked off everything on the list. You can pedal to work on your bike. You'll be healthier, more mentally alert throughout the day and you will find it fun! You might see wildlife you wouldn't normally see, you will be helping to reduce your personal carbon footprint, and you will impress your friends and colleagues.
If you were already going to the gym you can replace some of your sessions by cycling to work, and the time you would have spent at the gym can now be spent doing other things with friends or family.
If your commute is up to 10 or 15 miles give it a go. You'll be healthier, save money, cut down on vehicle emissions, and have fun!
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