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Bold new commuter plans

Now, before I start, I only read the headline of this story, but I think it’s a bold idea and should be supported.

The Irish government wants to see 150,000 people commuting by bicycle. How cool is that.

Now I know the politicians are thinking about congestion, parking, pollution and all the boring stuff. Here’s what I think: -no fuel cost -no paying for parking –replacement for that boring cardio at the gym -fresh air, exercise and transport -cycling to work in the morning can wake up the body and mind ready for the day, cycling home can help you unwind and relax.

We just need to ensure that the employers/council provide secure locking areas and some where to shower and change. Then we’re laughing. If you live within a 5mile radius of the job, get on the ol‘ iron horse, no excuses.

If your new to exercise or unfamiliar with cycling, it’s best to take things slow, get a lightweight bike that’s the correct size for you. Forget about these cheap suspension set ups, unless you’re forking out (no pun intended) €600+ for a hardtail (suspension at the front) or €1000+ for a full sus, it’s not worth it. Get a quality rigid and it’ll last you years (if maintained) Have the bike set up by a pro. Having the seat and bars at the wrong height can wreak havoc on the old knees and back. Have the hand controls angled correctly to protect the wrists and keep everything in easy reach. Brakes are vital, V-brakes and hydraulic disks are mint, but look after them, especially in the wet. Tyres, unless you’re off roading forget about the wide knobblies, they’ll just slow you down. While I like a bigger tyre for it’s shock absorption and durability you don’t need to go huge. Get good road tyres, if in any doubt, ask a courier what he’s running.

The next thing is safety. I’m going to be controversial here, lights, reflectors and luminous jackets are of limited use! You and you alone are responsible for your own safety, you equipped with eyes and ears, use ’em. However get some decent lights, big enough to be seen, the rear light is the most important and is often obscured by coattails and bags. The best reflectors are the bands that wrap around the low leg/ankle. Because they are constantly moving up and down they attract the eye better, plus they’re less likely to be obscured. Look after your back and hamstrings, kettlebell swings should take care of that for you.

One more thing, you are going to fall off at some point, accept this inevitability. Get down to your local martial arts instructor (specifically jujitsu/judo/aikido or similar) and ask to learn to breakfall. In my 20 years martial arts training, the skill of breakfalling is the one thing that I can say has truly saved my life. I commute by bike, and have done for years, I enjoyed mountain biking and hill running almost daily in the Lake District, England, plus time snowboarding and other silly things all showed me the value of learning to fall. Many of my friends have been broken up after a crash, while I’ve had similar crashes and simply walked away.

So, on yer bike


Wild Geese every cause but our own

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