‘Whatabouts’ You Just Get on Your Bike

Bike Commuter

‘Whatabouts’ You Just Get on Your Bike

What are the top 5 feeble excuses for just not getting on your bike? Or rather, the ‘What-abouts?’ –  that are standing in the way of cycling.

  • I don’t have time….
  • There are no showers at work!
  • Its too far.
  • Bikes are expensive and all that lycra….

Ok, quick reality check first. Cycling doesn’t offer a solution to everyone. Personally, when my children were young I couldn’t realistically take them to family for childcare and get to work by using public transport or cycling. But I would cycle in on weekends for overtime and then often ride into town. So, I do accept there are limitations for many but, this is about those that could – should.

Cycling has been a fundamental part of my life in some capacity.  Not mega mileage or super gnar mountain biking just……cycling. I don’t even ride to work every day now –  I’m realistic in my expectations. I work in a rural setting with no public transport links. I can only cycle or drive. The drive is approximately 8 miles on busy A roads and takes 30 mins on average once I’ve navigated the congested out of town roads. When I ride in, I can take different routes ranging 10miles to over 24 miles. So ironically my average cycle can take only about 15 mins more than my drive.  What caveats this…. the real world of unplanned events, terrible weather, lots of things…but only some of the time.

The “whatabouts” are arguments or objections levelled by people as reasons(excuses?) that prevent them taking up cycling to work.

So those Whatabouts….

1. I don’t have time…

Yes, it will take longer and yes you have to be organised. The days I don’t ride, (I didn’t say you have to ride every day), I will take in the clothing I will need for the days I do. Then I only need to take essentials like my diary, Ipad and keys in a rucksack on a daily basis. I also leave a spare pair of shoes there all the time.

Get your bike and kit ready the night before, leaving no excuse in the morning. If you choose to take your clothes in daily, here’s my travel tip – roll up your clothes instead of folding.

Plan your route, and look for a couple of alternatives to alleviate the potential boredom of the same route.

2. I’ll get to work sweaty/there aren’t showers –

You don’t have to ride your commute like your life depends on it, to beat your Strava time every day, or like you are chasing down to finish the Tour. A sink wash is fine! Typically workspaces have accessible toilets, these are large, lockable and separate. Perfect to change and wash.

Yes in summer it’s going to be hot but wear proper wicking kit and, again, don’t go K.O.M hunting on strava. The whole exercise is…. exercise, or simply movement. And getting you out of your car. Dial back your average pace and you won’t arrive dripping head to toe like you’ve just finished a time trial.

3. My commute isn’t suitable or is too far –

If you like the idea of riding in but either don’t feel quite fit enough yet or that some of the route isn’t necessarily “safe”, consider riding part of the way.  Some buses allow bikes, or find a place you can park safely (a family/friends drive maybe). Reduce the distance, remove the main roads that you would feel vulnerable on, practice on a weekend. Consider investing in an e-bike –  these are amazing for commuting. You’re assisted but you will still feel the benefits of cycling, plus will be able to ride further.

4. Bikes are expensive and I need special equipment –

They can be and I’m a firm advocate of “ride what you’ve got”.  But let’s be honest a nicer bike will feel great to ride and if it’s more rewarding you’ll be more inclined to ride it.  You don’t need to spend a fortune but choose something that suits your needs and fits you (listen to advice from your Local Bike Shop). Consider that its an investment – an investment in your health and your environment.

If you’ve only got commuting in mind don’t then choose a full suspension bike fit for the mountains. Equally an aero road bike might not suit the gravel canal path. Again, your local bike shop will be well placed to help here.

They will also help with kit you’ll need. You don’t need to be in full Lycra but it has its benefit, in being wicking, light and fast drying. Personally I’d say essentials are helmet, gloves/mitts. The rest will just make life more comfortable. Good padded shorts will make life much better on the bike. Check out some of the cycle casual clothing brands cropping up too.  Some of this clobber looks as good off the bike as on.

£500 will get you onto a bike that will be all you need. Reasonable components, average weight etc.  You will need to stretch the budget to get onto an e-bike but in any case you may be able to access one of the many cycle to work schemes via your employer.

Bike Commuter

To finish as I started, the opportunity to cycle to work isn’t available to everyone but we all need to think about how our vehicle use impacts the wider environment. Too many journeys are made that are unnecessary and could be replaced by walking, cycling or avoided altogether. Complacency lies in the comfort of private car usage. Cars are nice places to be, ultra connected, financially accessible, easy to drive and in the main more efficient than ever.

Yes the infrastructure isn’t perfect but without the uptake the change won’t come. Yes cycling isn’t possible for everyone but I will leave with the brief story of a local gardener I knew that had a small trailer behind his bike and his round was all within 15mins of home. He carried all he needed(including small petrol mower) behind him. You just need the vision.

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