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

Cycle path with Autumn leaves

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

  1. Kim says:

    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 (http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/videos/cycling-tech/how-to-puncture-proof-your-tyres). 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. Clare de Mowbray says:

    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!

    1. Fair play! I brought in a bag of ‘staples’ this morning – a coat, black cardigan, blazer etc… hopefully that will make outfit planning easier!

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