Getting Started

What do I need?

A Bike…..Yes, not surprisingly, having a bike or access to a bike helps a lot when cycling to work. Almost any bike will do, at least to start with. If you are buying a bike to cycle to work on, check out our pages about buying a bike.Check that the bike is road worthy, the tyres are pumped up the chain and gears are oiled and the brakes work.Check that you can be seen. Are reflectors fitted to the bike; front and rear reflectors are mandatory; wheel reflectors are fitted to all new bikes, they are not mandatory but are good for being seen side on. Pedal reflectors are optional but are a good idea.

Clothing. The Lycra question! Lets face it some people look good in Lycra and some people don’t, so why where Lycra shorts? Lycra shorts are stretchy and fit close to the skin, they move with the legs whilst pedalling and so do not rub against the skin. They also have no seams, and seams can dig into the skin on long journeys. Almost all cycling shorts have a pad in the rear which makes it more comfortable to sit on the saddle. There are now baggy cycling shorts with an inner liner and pad for comfort or cycling underwear that can be worn under normal clothing. Alternatively a pair of Lycra shorts can be worn under a pair of jogging bottoms or a pair of Ron Hill tracksters. When wearing long trousers on a bike watch out for the bottoms (right side) getting caught in the chain. One more thing, without going into details, is that Gentlemen will find that wearing cycling shorts is a lot more comfortable than not.For the distances involved in cycling to the Harwell campus it will probably be more comfortable to wear clothes to cycle in and change into work clothes when you arrive at work. If cycling regularly it will pay to buy clothes specifically for cycling:

  • Cycling base layers and T-shirts are made out of moisture wicking material are cut long at the back to cover the base of the back which can get exposed whilst cycling, have high necks and long cuffs.
  • Cycling jackets are lightweight, made out of breathable fabrics like Gore-tex, preferably wind proof and contain reflective trim. Again they will be cut for cycling with long backs, high necks and long cuffs. Rear pockets on jackets are useful. Two jackets may be a good idea, a lightweight one for chilly but sunny Spring & Summer mornings and a more robust jacket for cold Winter mornings and drizzle.
  • A pair of cycling gloves are also useful for cold weather, ensure they are wind proof, thin enough to operate brakes and gears, have some padding and have reflective material so other road users can see hand signals.

Do I need to be fit?

No. Cycling is carried out at an individual pace and fitness is a side effect from cycling. Cycling is a non impact exercise i.e. there is very little impact stress placed on the joints unlike running or aerobics.

It is a good idea to practice with a few cycle rides and build up fitness a bit before cycling to work, especially for beginners or people that have not exercised or cycled for a long time. At first it might be a good idea to cycle one way i.e. to work then catch a lift or the bus home and then visa versa the next day.

Will my bum hurt?

Probably yes, for people who have not cycled for a long time there will be a bum ache for a day or two after the first long ride. This will disappear and not return for reasonably regular / occasional cyclists. There may also be some initial aches from leg muscles that have not been exercised for a long time.