Many have been doing it for years, others are only flirting with it in view of the high petrol prices: cycling to work.
But how can you make the switch if you’ve hardly ever been on two wheels in everyday life – and you don’t have steel calves and thighs for a long time? Tips on how to get started:
Don’t underestimate your training level
As an untrained person, can I even cycle ten kilometers to work? Of course, says Ingo Froboese, Professor for Prevention and Rehabilitation in Sport at the German Sport University in Cologne.
“Anyone who can walk for half an hour can also cycle for half an hour,” he says. That’s about how long it takes to cycle ten kilometers. For starters, it is better to plan three quarters of an hour, according to the sports scientist.
Keyword time planning: In order to show up punctually at work, one should not forget the so-called “preparation time”, advises Tim Böhme, consultant for trainer training at the German Cyclists’ Association (BDR). Because while the search for a parking space is waiting after the car ride, a bike ride ends with chaining up the vehicle, freshening up or even taking a shower. So that there is no stress, time should also be allowed for this.
The route: Better comfortable than short
A bike tour starts with good planning, as does the commute on two wheels. “Can I get to work comfortably on my bike? You should ask yourself this question in advance,” says Tim Böhme.
It is also about the particular peculiarities of the route. In the morning and in the afternoon it gets crowded on many cycle paths. The bicycle expert therefore advises choosing a route with wide cycle paths. “One-way streets are also suitable.”
The shortest route to the goal does not necessarily have to be the best. If there is a steep mountain waiting halfway, it is better to take a more pleasant route – even if it is a bit longer.
Customize your bike and check it out
In order to avoid complaints such as pain when cycling, the bicycle should be adapted to your own body. For example, there are the handlebars: “The grips should be ergonomic so that the pressure on the wrists, arms and shoulders can be absorbed well,” says Ingo Froboese.
The dimensions of the handlebars are also important: if they are too wide, you have to use more force than necessary. On the other hand, if it is too narrow, you will not have good control of the bike.
If the bike has been sitting in the basement unused for a while, it’s best to send it in for an inspection first, advises Froboese. Because many materials become porous over time – such as the rubber of the tires. This can be dangerous on the road, as can defective lights or worn brake pads.
The driving style: Better endurance than strength
“Get in easy,” advises Ingo Froboese here. “If you don’t get out of breath, you’re doing it right.” The recommendation: understand cycling as an endurance unit, not as a strength unit.
Because: If a lot of muscle power is used, it means a lot of pressure on the joints. And they have to get used to the new strain first.
What does that mean specifically? It’s better to shift down a gear – literally. A pedaling frequency of 60 to 80 revolutions per minute is optimal. There is only one thing that helps to get a feeling for this: counting.
Make sure you wear the right clothes
Not everyone feels like throwing on a pair of cycling shorts or a functional shirt just to get to work. But it’s worth thinking about the right clothing in advance: “You’re much more flexible in stretch clothes,” says Tim Böhme from the BDR. Stiff jackets that pull up on the back when cycling are much more annoying.
“Many make the mistake of dressing too warmly,” says Ingo Froboese. Because: When cycling, the body warms up – which is why you can often save a layer of clothing. “If you shiver a little for the first five minutes on the bike, that’s not bad at all.”
A windbreaker protects you from cooling down due to headwind. “It’s light and fits in every pocket,” says Froboese. And: it can easily be slipped on or off when you’re out and about.