Cycle path with Autumn leaves

Diary of a cycling commuter No. 4: “fierce mild”

In the fourth blog of this series, Communications Coordinator Sarah shares what it is like to ditch her bus pass and take up cycling to work.

fierce-mildAutumn presents a sticky dilemma to the cycling commuter; Irish comedian Dylan Moran would call it “fierce mild”.

Basically, the weather is sunny but cool. Great for walking. Perfect for getting the bus. But to a novice cyclist like me with no ‘cyclist’s wardrobe’ to my name, it’s a clothing disaster.

I start my commute pretty chilly in a t-shirt, light fleece and waterproof shell. After 10 minutes I reach optimum cosiness, then by the time I reach work I’m a sweaty mess. Not cool.

What should I do?

Option one was embrace it. I took extra clothes to work and showered when I got there. It was fine, but required prep the night before and meant I was hogging our main office bathroom for 10 minutes every morning. I still wanted the option of being able to arrive ready.

Option two was change my clothes. After quizzing lots of you guys – fellow cyclists – the general consensus seemed to be a light, breathable base layer, gloves, skip the fleece, and keep the shell.

michelin-manAfter a rummage around Fort Kinnard, I came home with a merino wool base layer, cyclist’s gloves, and those highly attractive cyclist’s leggings with padding in the bum. Nice.

Cycles since have been a bit more comfortable, but I’m beginning to think maybe its time to ditch the backpack and go for a pannier if I really do want to arrive sans sweaty back.

Outfit sorted, I had another problem to tackle – finding out why I was repeatedly bursting my back tyre’s inner tube.

I cycle through Peffermill Business Centre which usually has a decent sprinkling of broken glass on the road, and over the course of the summer my back tyre deflated 3 times. I assumed it was the glass, but each time I took it to a bike repair shop they couldn’t find any.

pinch-punctureAt the last visit they asked me to describe my route, and stopped me when I told them about the kerb I jump every morning beside Craigmillar library. As it turns out, trying to bunny hop kerbs – and often failing – is a sure-fire way to burst your back inner tube with a “pinch puncture”. Who knew! I’ve now changed my route slightly to avoid the kerb – no burst tubes since.

So there you go – As the leaves turn golden and fall, I’m a little more clued up, confident and comfortable than I was a few months back.

Stay tuned for another blog when the weather turns wintery.

Tweet Sarah at @sarah_fordhutch

3 thoughts on “Diary of a cycling commuter No. 4: “fierce mild””

  1. Great that you are choosing the best way to get to work.

    Just a couple of comments, if I may.

    Clothing: cyclists in this country tend to over complicate things, you don’t actually need padded shorts for journeys of less than 30 miles or so, so not really need for a commute in town. Just look at the Danes, and remember that Copenhagen is on the same latitude as Edinburgh.

    Punctures: pinch flats are best avoided by keeping the tyres well pumped up (or getting tubeless tyres). The modern fashion for tubeless tyres also has a great benefits to those who still use inner tubes, as this article from Cycling Weekly shows ( Lets face it, the last thing you want to do on your way to work is fix a puncture 😉

    A final comment, when I started at Edinburgh Uni as a fresher, I sold my car thinking that I would buy another after I graduated. Four years on, I had discovered that I no longer wanted a car and haven’t owned on since. I graduated in 1998, 22 years car free and still not regretting it 😉

  2. Great post as usual Sarah. Just to reassure you re. clothes planning faff. I work part time so have to bring work clothes in on a Wednesday for the following Monday….How’s that for cycle commute planning!

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