Top tips for staying cool on your cycle commute

July 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

1 Slow down

Handily, the lazier you are, the easier you’ll find all this, as the basic
rule for not sweating is to make less effort. You can usually spot two
opposing tribes on the roads: the so-called “Lycra louts” – typically adult
men clad in tight-fitting fabric riding bikes that are worth more than an
average car – whizz by on their own personal Tour de France, while genteel
cyclists pootle along at a happy pace and take in the scenery.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the Lycra louts, who cycle with twice as
much effort, get to their destination twice as fast. Right? Well, no.
Junctions, roundabouts and, in particular, traffic lights, are the great
leveller, holding up the fastest cyclists for just long enough for their
laid-back counterparts to catch up.

So,my first tip is simply to slow down a little.

2 Ditch the backpack

As far as sweat is concerned, backpacks are kryptonite. There’s something
about them that compels your body to perspire. While there are special
backpacks out there that promise to stop sweat with all sorts of gimmickry,
the cheapest (and most effective) way to end sweaty back misery is to avoid
backpacks altogether and invest in panniers – bags that sit either side of a
bicycle’s back wheel. They needn’t cost more than £25 (Halfords is a good
place to start) and will enable you to cycle sweat-free. Having said this,
we must give an honorable mention to the Slicks Suit25 (pictured) for pure
ingenuity – if you must wear a backpack to work, this one can store a whole
suit with minimal creasing.

3 Stay streamlined

Cycling experts agree that small changes to the way you ride and what you wear
can make you substantially more efficient and therefore less exerted and
sweaty.

Stephen Roche, manager of Prestige Cycles in Hove, has been analysing
cyclists’ efficiency using a wind tunnel for three years. “Make sure you
wear fitted clothing that doesn’t flap about in the wind,” he says. “This
causes extra drag and slows you down.”

“Using gears correctly is very important,” adds Dr Andy Kirkland, coach and
education officer at British Cycling. “Some cyclists will use too big a gear
and pedal slowly. Using a smaller gear and pedalling faster, at around 80-90
revolutions per minute, is better. It may initially feel unnatural, but
stick with it. You’ll get to work less sweaty and fatigued, and you’ll be
able to accelerate faster at the traffic lights as a result.”

4 Choose the right bike

There’s no need to shell out £10,000 for a bike to get you to work and back.
Team Raleigh’s Ian Wilkinson says: “Although I ride a full carbon Raleigh
Militis for racing and high performance, a cheap steel classic road bike
will do fine for the commute – and you can probably pick one up for as
little as £100 at a car boot sale or on eBay.” Just make sure that the tyres
are properly inflated – flat tyres slow you down and cost you energy.

5 Adapt your route

Two obvious obstacles to a smooth office arrival that can be avoided, at least
in part, are hills and traffic. Favour two small hills over one large one,
and a long, gentle climb over a mini-Ventoux. In traffic, stopping and
starting means that you’ll waste energy, so aim for quieter roads with fewer
junctions and traffic lights if you can.

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