Friday, 9 March 2012

Commuting by bike - problems to overcome

Cyclists in pole position at Trafalgar Square traffic lights
Following the previous Ramble about all the good reasons why commuting by bike is so good, here are a few problems I have needed to solve.

  1. Clothes, shoes etc.  Sometimes I get myself organised and make sure I have clothes at my office, ready for me to change into.  Other times I take a change of clothes each day.  The main thing is having a shirt which won't become too crumpled looking.  I always keep a spare pair of shoes under my desk but I do bring them home to give them a good polish from time to time - otherwise the leather will totally dry out! I always smile when I'm so obviously in my cycling gear (yellow jacket, helmet, clicky shoes) and someone in reception asks "Have you cycled today Doug?".
  2. Body odour!  As we don't have showers, and if I'm really in need I have a quick wash in the "bathroom".  I do not like to use de-odourant but sometimes do make an exception.
  3. Bad weather happens less than we think here in the East of England; a relatively dry part of the UK.  Squally winds and freezing temperatures are the things that I loathe the most.  This is where the correct cycle clothing comes into play.  Having cycle specific clothing is an investment worth making if you plan to cycle often.
  4. Squashed lunch might seem a daft problem but I can tell you, squashed cheese and pickle sandwiches just doesn't look good by lunch time!  Even worse than being squashed it where they fall to bits!  A lunch box is useful, depending on how much space you have.  Otherwise pack more robust things like flapjacks and apples
  5. Fear is real.  Fear of cars, accidents, pedestrians, lorries and so on.  The solution is found in being visible with lights and a yellow jacket where appropriate.  Otherwise confidence, experience and a good road sense will help,
  6. Papers take up lots of room and can be heavy.  Planning ahead and having pannier bags are my solutions as I often have to attend meetings elsewhere on different days. Sometimes I have to take papers for several meetings and these can seriously slow me down.   Just as well I have not been "especially chosen" to have a laptop, I'd only lose it or leave it somewhere.
  7. Cramp is a bit of a problem for me but only in my feet.  I have rambled about this before and it does bug me sometimes.  I get it in some of the muscles in my feet, normally one at a time but when it strikes in both feet together, that can be a bit scary.  I think the most probable cause, in which I could do something about, is the shoes I use and keeping my feet warm and dry enough.  Click here for a review of my shoes. Click here for a ramble from last year about getting cramp.


  1. What has helped me, especially with the bad weather, was getting a folding bike. If it starts to rain or gets really windy during the day, I sometimes just take the bike home with me on the bus, or if I can catch a ride with someone, it's easy to put in their trunk.

  2. Many thanks Will. I took a look at the folding bike link, they look really good and it's brilliant to see something a little "different" on the roads.