I believe I’m a committed, hardened cycle commuter. If I could ditch my car completely I probably would. For me my bike is my preferred method of transport to and from work. We all know the benefits of cycling – money, exercise, environment etc but its not perfect. There are compromises you have to make. Here are my seven BAD things about commuting.
- Cleaning your bike
Like anything mechanical. If you don’t look after it, it will not last. Its the same with a bike. Commuting in all weathers, every day, is a pretty extreme use of it and arguably more than they were ever designed to do. With such use comes the need to maintain it regularly, so I have to clean my bike at least once a week to check and maintain it. Its a chore but ultimately necessary as, particularly in winter when there is a lot of salt about, the bike would very quickly cease to work and corrode.
- Loads of Kit
To comfortably ride day in, day out in all weathers there is a need to own a fair bit of cycling kit. I’m lucky that I’ve built my hoard over a number of years. To give you some idea, I own at least 6 pairs of bib tights and shorts, 8+ jerseys, long sleeve jerseys, half a dozen base layers, an all weather gilet, a couple of winter jackets, at least 4 pairs of gloves for all temperatures, loads of socks, arm warmers, knee warmers, leg warmers, buffs, caps, boots, shoes and it goes on and on. Hundreds of pounds worth. I have four drawers full of the stuff. I ride in clean kit everyday and I do a big wash at the end of the week. Its an expense but its necessary and if you buy decent stuff it lasts too.
- You smell
Its inevitable. Lots of hrs commuting means you’ll smell at least twice a day. I’m used to it and its only for the time you stop till you shower but I do get reminded regularly by Sally as I talk to her while getting undressed after my ride home. I like to offer a sweaty hug when she tells me I stink. Occasionally even I think I smell bad. When you can smell yourself, you know its bad right?
- Showering twice a day
For most people. enjoying a long, hot shower is a pleasure. Trust me, when you commute regularly, the shower loses its appeal and just becomes a functional thing. Something you just do to clean up and remove the smell. My shower routine has now shortened to the bare minimum required. I actually think my wash routine with the gel is just a pattern I repeat everytime. Its followed by a towel drill I repeat every day too
- Clothes inside out
I don’t know if you have this but everytime I take most of my cycling kit off. It gets turned inside out either to dry or to wash. So when I put fresh kit on or I get changed to ride home from work I have to turn it all back the right way. Does my head in
- Dangerous drivers
Those that follow me on social media will know I invested in a helmet camera last year due to a number of close passes and incidents with drivers. I’m now able to record and report such behaviour to the Police. It can be dangerous and it is relatively rare all things considered but when I look back at the library of footage I’ve collated, it just leaves me dismayed by driver attitudes. I’d go as far to say, cycling dehumanizes you in the eyes of some drivers. To them, when I get on the bike I’m just a thing in their way, causing them delay, I’m the problem. To them as soon as I throw my leg over my saddle and ride down the road, I stop being a Dad, a Son or someone who has a family. It will never stop so I have to accept that but by reporting it I don’t condone it either.
- Friday night commute
The last one of the week is always the worse. All you want to do is get home and unwind. I’m tired and drained from work and riding all week anyway. You see everyone walking off to their nice warm cars and most will be home in half the time. I have to change, ride then shower. The end is an hour away. Hate it.