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Transforming a Cycle Commute to Training

There’s simply no better way to start your daily commute to work than to jump on your bike and ride. You arrive at work feeling energetic, fresh and prepared for the day ahead. Not only does it have countless positive affects on your body, but it will also help you save a huge amount of money! It’s the perfect way to get the miles in, while balancing the demands of work, life and your cycling goals. While some people may have a commute taking up to 1-2 hours, many will only have short rides to work. But no matter how long your commute is, the quality of the ride is most important. It’s essential to add purpose and value to every ride. So, transform your ride to work with our top tips! Whether it’s 30 minutes or 90 minutes, you’ll reap the rewards of the daily commute!


Preparation

- To turn your commute into your training ride, preparation is key. You won’t enjoy it very much arriving to work in lycra only to realise you haven’t got spare underwear, or better yet, anything other than lycra! Have a spare set of clothes at work, ready for your arrival. A top tip would be to plan the week ahead, bring in as much as you can on Monday, so that you are all set and prepared for the week.

- Check the weather or prepare for the worst. You’ll want to ensure that, just like on a training ride, you have kit that suits the weather. Weather is ever changeable; so it may be worthwhile always have a rain jacket with you, just in case.

- As we get ever closer to winter, ensure you have your ride essentials to hand. Lights should be fully charged and consider taking emergency lights with you. Are you planning on making adjustments to your route? Will this route include more rural areas? Think about which lights will suit your commute best, as what worked great in town, may not be as great in the country!


The ride itself

Making the step to transforming your commute to training, you’ll need to incorporate it into your overall training plan. But how can you make the time on the bike worth it? Add specific training to each session!

- Endurance: during the winter in particular, competitive cyclists tend to focus on their endurance, meaning long rides, over and over again. Add a day to your week where you take a longer route to work. Add at least another 30-40 minutes onto your ride where possible, it’ll be even better if you can do this in the morning!

- Intervals: incorporate a day for intervals into your training. In the city intervals are quite easy to plan, there’s so many signposts along the way. You could even try intervals between villages! But try to do at least 4 x10 minute efforts with recovery periods in between; splitting efforts down is more beneficial and achievable than doing one 40-minute effort! As you become accustomed to the commute, you’ll start to see the time taken from one signpost to another drop, week by week, as you progress become stronger.

- Sprinting: How many times during your commute do you have to stop for traffic lights, road crossings, traffic, roundabouts etc? I imagine plenty! But this stop-start motion, although usually a pain, can be a great time to get in some sprint training! Try stopping at a traffic light over-geared and then setting off using pure strength and power. It’s very similar to a standing start on the track. Or alternatively, use an extremely low gear to work on your leg speed. These two things will help you to engage your muscles thoroughly and will indeed have a positive effect on your sprinting ability overtime.


Recovery ride

When incorporating more frequent, intense training, it is essential to ‘spin those legs’ or go for a recovery ride. This is the best way to prepare yourself for another full on session during the week. Take it easy and ensure you have enough time to do so before and after work – this is not the day to rush! But the main thing to remember is to have fun! Why not invite a friend along with you or join a before hours group ride (there are several available in London right now), keep motivated, keep looking at your goals, but always remind yourself of your achievements that you’ve already made!


writer: Lindsey Walker, NEOS partner blogger Read Lindsey's NEOS blog by clicking the button 

all pictures by Russell Ellis