Bookend your working day in the best possible way
Perhaps every day, perhaps once a month, it’s more important you just get out and ride, and have something to look forward to in the working week.
Just seven per cent of the population commutes to work by bike, with one in four of us believing it’s just too dangerous to ride, according to new research by Decathlon, which surveyed over 7,600 adults. While 21 per cent say they’re too scared to ride, another 21 per cent reckon the distance to their work is too far.
Well, we think we’ve got a solution to that problem – take your commute to the hills. You might reckon only a select few rider get to commute to work off-road; say, people handily who live one side of a range of hills, and work on the other. But it doesn’t have to be this way, most of us can build in some kind of off-road journey, even if it involves driving in a circuitous route to work or getting off the train one stop earlier.
1. Great expectations
The most important thing is to get your head in the right place. Unless you’re really lucky, no off-road commute will ever match a proper Sunday ride with friends. But it’ll knock the socks off getting in the car, packing into a train or riding the road. “A fast singletrack blast to bookend the day helps beat the winter blues for sure,” says reader Colin Mcphail.
2. Plan your route
Don’t limit yourself to riding straight from your door to work; most of us can’t do this. Instead think about driving part way and riding the rest, even if that means you’re not heading directly to work. If you’re commuting by train think about riding to a station further down the line, or getting off one stop earlier. An off-road ride can be built into most city commutes but in some cases you’re going to have to get your kicks from pump tracks and BMX tracks.
Break out your old school maps, scour OS mapping software, install Trailforks and Strava on your phone and head out for some explorer rides on your days off to suss out where to go. Start small, you’ll have limited time and faffing, punctures, traffic and life in general has a habit of eating into your time.
If you’re searching for inspiration we’ve put together a dozen off-road rides on the edges of towns and cities, from Plymouth in the south, through Bristol and Sheffield up to Glasgow and Edinburgh in the north — search for “City Limits mbr” on Google.
3. Gear and fuel sorted
Planning is everything here, you need to get everything ready for the commute the night before, from packing your regular clothes to laying out your riding kit, and sorting out your food for the ride and afterwards. Keep yourself as clean as possible by strapping mudguards to your bike, and ride in trousers so you can peal them off afterwards. Don’t forget to sort out food for after the ride, you’re going to need it.
Tips from Facebook commuters
“I’ve got several routes depending on the weather, including trails in Afan Argoed. I have to actually head in the opposite direction to get onto the most direct off road section. Fortunate to have showers in work. Keep a change of clothes in work. Be prepared for punctures. Take good locks, a MTB is a very tempting target for a thief.” – Craig Fawkes
“Read OS maps, online mapping and go for some explorer rides. I manage between two major urban centres, 10 miles, with only half a mile on road. Can always add on a bit to pick up Greno and Wharny if I am feeling it ;) #MadeInSheffield The Outdoor City” – Mick Marriott
“Got a five mile ride with a couple of off-road miles in there, or a much longer high line commute if I’ve got an hour to spare. Can make it work without a shower in the shorter route, good mudguards and a hearty breakfast are key!” – Colin Mcphail
“Forget about the direct routes to work and explore some alternative routes even starting in the opposite direction, ride from home and explore off road routes on days off you will be surprised how much fun you can have (make sure work as a shower!!!)” – David Plumb