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Pip reengages work mode…

I commute 4/5 days a week all through the year, on and off-road, rain or shine in the light or dark and I love it. It helps me start the day positive, stay fit and in a good mood. I arrive at work I feel refreshed and rejuvenated to start the day right.

I guess I’m lucky to have a job where my bike can be secured inside and I work for a company that promotes health and wellbeing but surely this should be the norm?

I find that the benefits of commuting are mental, physical and also time-saving – door to door it takes 25 minutes on the bike but it can take an hour to get across town in the car. It also allows me to fit training in around a busy paced job and even if you’re not “training” it’s just better for your general health.

It’s not all wistful Summer days and yes, it’s hard when the weather is rubbish, but that all helps build that mental toughness needed for racing and riding. The one thing that can get to you, is angry drivers, who basically seem to be jealous of your very existence! Sometimes this affects my mood and sometimes it can be frightening, but the benefits far outweigh the hassle you get.

Like most people I tend to have a bit more energy in the morning so I generally fit a couple of intervals in, working hard on the climbs and cruising on the downhills. The evening ride home is usually an easy, longer ride further afield or a good warm-up for a more tailored turbo session once home.

We’ve also been considering the benefits of riding with a heavy backpack recently – after five years of riding with all my day-to-day stuff I can feel the benefits of this in developing strength, endurance and cardio. Just like the physiological positive effect you get when you swap from your heavy winter bike to a lightweight Summer bike, I feel the same thing when I take off the heavy backpack and head out for my weekend ride.

Of course sometimes it’s just nice to ride in with only the wildlife for company as the sun rises, or home whilst the sun goes down! Here are some of my top tips for commuting all year round;

  • Charge your lights at the same time each week so you can always see and be seen – carry a spare battery if you’re going for a long ride after work and consider keeping a charger both at home and work – this gives you the confidence to get longer rides in when the weather suits.

  • If you’re going off-road pack a cloth/flannel in your rucksack to clean up your face, arms and legs just around the corner from work rather than turning up too covered in mud – then you can use the same flannel for a “sink-shower” if you don’t have the luxury of showers at work!

  • Keep spare socks and a light rain jacket at work – dry feet always make you feel better and if the weather changes during the day you’ll be pleased of the extra jacket – rain jackets can be used to stay warm even if it’s not raining and cheap ones are fine for this purpose.

  • Fit tyres with a bit more reliability in mind but don’t go overboard! Race tyres are no use when you’re sat on the side of the road patching them up, but commute tyres are often pretty grotty to ride on – pick something like a Schwalbe One Performance and set it up tubeless for the best mix.

  • Get your kit ready the night before – having a bag all ready packed and ready to go always helps get you out of the door rather than reaching for the car keys! Stick a spare bar in your bag so you’ve always got some extra calories if you need them.

Photos by Pip Jenkins PIPJENKINS Pip races road locally and TT at National level. In the last two years she’s developed from a background in Triathlon to one of the best riders in her club (SDW), currently holding all female club records with the exception of the 24 hours and has collected more than 15 Open TT wins along the way. She races all distances including 12-hour (PB 268.7 miles) and receives personal support from Geoff Roberts Frames.

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