Tips for long and short bike commuting

In the past my commute to work was just 4 miles. For this I enjoyed putting as much power as possible in my pedalling and speeding my way into the office. On the occassional longer bike commute to the other office I covered 14 miles. Here I enjoyed setting a more steady pace and had to take a few more things into consideration.

Before moving on to the tips I have the survey results from what distances you guys are covering every day.

How long is your bike commute

The poll which was completed by 376 of you (And counting..) showed that at the bottom end of the scale 20% are doing a very short commute of just 4 miles. At the other end some people are covering some serious miles each day with 5% of you saying you cover more than 20 miles. There were also some interesting comments with a lot of people on the lower end of the scale wishing they could cover more miles and a couple of people often extend their trip to enjoy more cycling.

Here are some tips for you depending on what distance you cycle. The list is by no means exhaustive and if you have any more suggestions then please add them below.

Short bike commute 0 – 6 miles

The beauty of the short comfortable bike commute is that it generally comes with no special requirements. You can largely just hop on a bike and set off for work. If you keep an average pace and don´t push too hard then you also avoid needing to shower when arriving at work. If you need to carry anything with you then this can easily be thrown in a backpack and over your shoulder.

Medium bike commute 7 – 15 miles

A medium bike commute is slightly more involved. Whilst you can largely still cycle in normal clothes you may benefit from more specialist gear for the purpose of comfort. A good starting point is the shorts. You should also consider buying panniers if you have to carry anything with you because a backpack can become uncomfortable over the larger distances. It is useful to eat something before setting off to avoid running out of energy on the way to work.

Longer bike commute 16+ miles

This is when things get more interesting. As Jonathan suggested in the comments on the poll, on a longer commute it is a good idea to carry some easy to consume food with you. Things like nuts and energy bars are a good idea. This prevents what cyclists call “bonk” or when you run out of energy and pedalling feels very difficult. You may also want to consider special cyclist clothing for your bike commute. This can help with comfort and for performance. Equipment wise you could upgrade your bike to something that can handle the miles better.

It is important on the longer commute to set a steady pace so you don´t burn out before the end. The weather and the route are also bigger considerations. Bad weather will slow you down. Varying the route helps to avoid repetition.

If you have any tips for commuters covering short or long distances then please leave them in the comments..

See also:

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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3 Responses to Tips for long and short bike commuting

  1. Loving the Bike 19/05/2010 at 3:17 pm #

    Nice post and it’s cool to see the breakdown of distances for various commuters. All commuters out there deserve a huge round of applause for doing what they do every day. Thanks for featuring them today.


  2. Merlin 25/05/2010 at 10:17 am #

    Cool post, its really interesting to see just how far some people do cycle commute everyday. Good on them.

  3. TP 03/09/2010 at 11:00 pm #

    A saddlebag is lighter than a rack & panniers, and much easier to ride with than a backpack. I use a Carradice bag on my 7-mile commute. I put my stuff in a lightweight drybag and stuff that in the saddlebag. The drybag makes it easy to keep everything in one place when I need to carry it off the bike.

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