Category: Basic Commuter Skills

Great snacks to keep you energized on your commute to and from work

Being a cyclist is hungry work. Whether you’re making your morning commute or going on extended rides, you need to stay properly energized. The key to success is by eating the right snacks at the right time. A lot of cyclists are stuck in the past and still base their diet on outdated nutritional fads. After reading our guide, your backpack will be full of snacks to keep you energized and on track for the finish line.

Carbohydrates vs. fats and protein

If you’re partial to going on more strenuous rides, you’ll need a source of glucose to keep your muscles fuelled. What’s the best source of glucose I hear you ask? Carbohydrates. Thanks to their chemical structure, they can be quickly and efficiently turned into useable glucose.

Fats and protein are a source of glucose too, but the time it takes to convert those into usable energy make them a poor choice for cyclists. If you’re eating foods packed with fats and protein before a ride, you’ll probably not see the benefits until after the ride is over. Here’s a good article to help you choose the best carbs to eat before cycling.

What should I eat?

As you’ve probably figured out already, foods high in carbohydrates aren’t easy to eat on the go. You don’t often see cyclists chowing down a bowl of pasta mid-way through a race. You want to look for high-carb, low-fat snacks that are easy to carry and eat while riding. Low-fat cookies, raisins, dates and energy bars are all perfect examples of this. It’s important these snacks are partnered with plenty of water though, so that they don’t sit at the bottom of your stomach doing nothing. A regular supply of H20 will ensure that the carbs are quickly transferred into blood glucose that you can use.

When should I eat?

Eating on the go isn’t easy, but the temptation to skip it entirely is. Don’t do this. If you’re not supplying your body with a sufficient amount of food and water, then you’re going to have a terrible ride. You’ll experience a loss of energy, strength and general awareness before inevitably becoming frustrated and irritable. As a rule, eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty.

If the reason you’re not eating is because the energy bar you picked up tastes like sawdust then you need to explore alternative snacks. The most nutritional food in the world is of zero use to you if you don’t like the taste of it; so find something you like.

Read the nutritional information, fill up your basket and begin experimenting. Strike the perfect balance between high carbs, low fats/proteins and good taste. Ethical Superstore supply a fantastic selection of organic food that will be right at home in a cyclist’s backpack and stomach.

What makes a good helmet?
Everyone has a different budget when it comes to buying a cycle helmet. If you’re willing to cough up the extra coin then you can expect the helmets to become lighter, better ventilated or have a better adjustable retention system.

But never fear! You don’t have to spend a fortune to get something that will keep you safe. All helmets must conform to standards that guarantee a certain level of protection. The debate on whether helmets should be compulsory continues to rage on. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, it’s undeniable that you’re better protected in some circumstances when wearing a helmet. Have a read through this guide to get an idea of what you should be looking for.

Fit
You want your helmet to strike that perfect balance between snug and secure. It doesn’t want to be so tight that it’s pinching you around the face. Meanwhile, if the helmet is too loose and you get into a crash, your head will still be moving around inside it. So you don’t want that either. Don’t be afraid to go into a shop to try some on. After all, it’s vitally important to get one that’s comfortable and safe.

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Main/outer shell
The main shell of most helmets is made out of expanded polystyrene. This will absorb the force of an impact if you ever hit one of those inconspicuous pot-holes. The outer shell holds the inner shell together and will also help to disperse the shock of a crash.

Padding
Inside every helmet are pads and cloth that are designed to keep your head comfortable and absorb sweat on those more challenging rides. As you can probably guess, your helmet will not smell like a bed of roses after extensive use. You’ll want to ensure that the padding is removable so that it can be washed as necessary.


Straps and head retention system

The straps should be adjustable and easy to use so that you can keep the helmet in the correct position. The ‘Y’ piece straps will help you adjust the position of the helmet on each side of your head so that you can comfortably clip it all together at the chin strap.

The head retention system is an adjustable harness at the back of the helmet that improves stability by grabbing the occipital bone at the back of your head. They are usually controlled by a wheel at the back of the helmet that can turned either way to tighten or loosen your back support.

Ventilation
As you go up in price you can get varying levels of ventilation. Strategically placed vents are cut into the helmet so that your head can remain cool as you ride. If you find yourself becoming hot headed during a ride – and it’s not a result of road rage – then you may wish to get a well-ventilated helmet.

If you’re shopping online, you can get a lot of great deals on bicycle helmets from retailers like Koo Bikes. They also supply a number of bike accessories such as locks, lights and air pumps if you’re in the market for something new. One final tip before you buy a helmet online; make sure that the helmet size matches your own head measurement to guarantee a helmet that ticks all the boxes.

Listen up fellow riders, bad weather shouldn’t be an excuse to leave your bike to gather dust in the garden shed or garage. With today’s cycling-friendly clothing, staying warm and dry in less than desirable weather has never been easier. To show you how, here’s five top jackets that are sure to keep you weatherproofed for the coming months.

Men’s
There are some top-notch men’s Helly Hansen jackets on Marine and Outdoor Clothing which work hard to keep rain out, and warmth in. Why not start with an essential like the Voss Jacket which offers total waterproof protection and comes in several bright colours – helpful when identifying yourself to motorists if cycling late at night. Or if you fancy something that’s a bit warmer, the Odin Isolator jacket is easy enough to pack away, but warms you up if a flash for those colder rides. It also offers extra wind protection but does just come in dark colours.

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Women’s
We really like the Sportful Womens Show SoftShell Jacket as the fabric not only ensures you’re kept warm and dry, but allows for maximum movement when out on the road; the high collar will also work to keep the chill off your neck. Another good option is the Altura Ladies Night Vision Evo Jacket which is great for commuters and, being reflective, keeps you safe on dark nights.

Kids
And for the juniors riders who also need to be kept warm and dry when out, we want something comfortable that will keep the chills at bay. The Helly Hansen Junior Dubliner Jacket has a higher collar, keeping the wearer warm all the way to their helmet, and is totally wind and waterproof.

For many more excellent rain tips and tricks, please visit our “Rain in the Forecast” article from a few years ago.

Editor’s note: the following is a guest article submitted by our contacts at UK’s Claims4Negligence. Some good information on basic safety tips for new commuters:

Bike Safety

There are so many advantages to riding a bicycle on the road that it can be easy to overlook the risks entirely. Cycling is good for the environment, it keeps the individuals concerned fit and healthy and, in these difficult economic times it is less expensive than most other forms of transport. The downside, however, is that there’s no getting away from the fact that riding a bicycle on the roads can be extremely dangerous. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of taking a bike out onto the road is the fact that your safety isn’t entirely in your own hands. No matter how diligent and careful you are, accidents can still happen, and the statistics show that the vast majority of injuries suffered by cyclists come about as the result of negligence on the part of other road users. For finding out more about how much compensation could be received for injuries on the body visit Claims4Negligence. Its best, of course, if you can avoid being hurt in this manner altogether, especially since cyclists involved in accidents are far more likely than drivers to suffer more serious injuries, but it should be remembered that if you are hurt in this manner you always have the option of claiming compensation; not to cash in, not as a punishment, but as a means of helping you get back on your feet (and on two wheels) as quickly as possible.

Although most accidents tend to be caused by the drivers of cars, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing the average cyclist can do to protect themselves. The right clothing, the right equipment and correct cycling tactics can all add up to a safer road experience by lowering the chances of accidents happening in the first place, and then, if the worst should befall you, minimizing the negative effects and the extent of any injuries caused.

Despite the dangers inherent in riding a bicycle, the vast majority of people cycling round the roads of the UK have probably never had a single cycling lesson in their life. People tend to just get on the bike and learn as they go along. Imagine, however, the chaos that would ensue if drivers adopted the same lassez faire attitude. There are basic rules of the road, and of riding a bicycle, which should be drilled into novice cyclists of any age, and there are courses available throughout the UK which can lay down this foundation of knowledge and create the good habits which will stand a cyclist in good stead throughout their life.

Over and above any formal training, however, there are certain tips and tricks which any cyclist can usefully adopt, of which the following are probably the simplest and most effective:

–Make sure you maintain eye contact with other road users, establishing it as clearly as possible. Put simply, if a driver looks you in the eye, then you can be one hundred per cent certain that he’s seen you, and visibility is a massive part of cycling safety.

–Bearing the above in mind you should go to the greatest possible lengths to maximize your visibility, at all times of the day and night. This means utilizing the likes of fluorescent clothing and lights, both on your bike and your person.

–Ensure that you take up your rightful position on the road. When trying to stay safe, the temptation may be to stay as close to the gutter, and thus the pavement, as possible. This tactic renders you less noticeable to other road users, however, as well as leaving you with little room to manoeuvre in the event of an emergency and leaving you more vulnerable to riding over debris. Try to think of yourself as taking up the amount of room a car would take up in the same circumstances, as this will lead other cars to treat you with much more respect.

–There’s no getting away from the fact that some cyclists give the rest a bad name by flouting things such as red lights and stop signs and skipping on and off the pavement. This is dangerous for both the cyclist concerned and all the others out on the road, since it helps to inculcate the notion that cyclists are reckless and basically ‘asking for trouble’.

–Use hand signals clearly and emphatically so that other road users are in no doubt as to what your next move is going to be.

–Of all the safety gear you can buy, a helmet is, without a doubt, the most important; even a fairly trivial fall can become very serious indeed if it involves your head coming into contact with a hard concrete surface. A helmet should fit well but not too tightly, with the pads in contact with the head at all points and it should be stored safely and inspected for signs of wear or damage on a regular basis.

It’s impossible, of course, to completely eliminate the risk from cycling on the road, but taking the steps listed above will help to keep you safer than you would otherwise be. Always remember that your ultimate safety doesn’t depend on how careful you’re going to be, but, sadly, how careless somebody else might end up being.