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Cycling to work

Did you know it’s possible to ride from one side of Melbourne to the other, virtually without seeing any cars? Cycling can make you fitter, healthier, and less stressed. It’s easy to find time to cycle when it becomes an integrated part of your lifestyle.

Be predictable and aware

Being predictable means being in a visible place on the road and riding in a straight line, not steering in and out around parked cars. This also involves claiming space on the road as rightfully yours to occupy.

The amount of space claimed will be determined by the speed of traffic and room for vehicles to detour around you. Use common sense.

Statistics show that bicycle accidents often involve unpredictable behaviour such as suddenly darting onto the road from a footpath. It goes without saying that it is vital that you obey all road rules.

Defensive riding means watching for signs that someone or something is likely to cross your path.

This means using all your senses and being aware of what is happening 360 degrees around you. It helps to be relaxed, but cycling in traffic is no time for daydreaming. A big cause of accidents in the city is an opening car door.

Sometimes there’s no choice but to ride in the “door-zone”. In this situation, watch carefully for signs of people in parked cars, but most importantly reduce your speed to minimise the risk of injury.

Establish eye contact with drivers before passing in front of them. If you can’t make eye contact, assume they haven’t seen you.

Another good habit is to never assume a car is going to turn just because their indicator is flashing. Don’t move until you see them actually making the turn. On cycling tracks, other hazards await; children (on and off bikes) and dogs, the most unpredictable of all track-users.

Cycling Etiquette

When approaching pedestrians from behind, it’s a good idea to warn of your approach with a bell or a polite call. Do this early, so that they are given plenty of notice, are not startled and do not think they are being forced off the track.

Give pedestrians a wide berth, at least one metre and reduce your speed. If the track is wide, go as far over to the other side as possible. Sometimes simply clicking the handbrake lever or changing gears is sufficient to alert pedestrians of your presence. At night, it’s great to have a high-beam light to flash on.

Ride with an attitude of friendliness and try not to become angry with anyone, even if they are doing something really stupid. It will only upset your concentration. As with road riding, behave predictably. Don’t suddenly brake unless it’s an emergency. Take care overtaking. In short, use common sense in each different situation and respect others.

We’re all out there to enjoy ourselves.


If you’re concerned that your fitness level is well below what is needed to achieve your goal, that’s no problem.

The trick is simply to break it down into smaller achievable steps.

When you begin riding to work, you may take the bike on the car and ride for the last ten minutes, ride only one day a week, catch the train home, ride really slowly and walk up hills.

Fitness is built by pushing your body to the right degree and resting. It’s a gentle process. Bodies aren’t built for sudden extremes.

This concept applies to a week of training sessions meaning Monday will be a gentle ride, Tuesday a little harder, Wednesday reaching a peak, Thursday easing off, and Friday a recovery ride back at the level of Monday. This principle also applies to individual rides.

Start a ride gently for ten minutes, work harder (at the level of only being able to talk in short sentences) for twenty minutes, then ride gently again for the last ten. Following this pattern will give you the best results for time spent. It’s based upon how muscles function over time, responding to increased demands but needing rest.

The alternatives are pushing too hard and lowering the body’s immune system (and getting sick) or spending hours not actually challenging the body and having little effect on fitness.

Apart from cycling, it’s worth doing extra work on the abdominal muscles (core strength) and upper body as well as stretches, especially of the calf muscles and hamstrings, which tend to get tight.

Healthy Diet

There’s a joke about cyclists being banned from all-you-can-eat restaurants! There’s no doubt that as the kilometres increase, so does the appetite. Eating to travel means choosing food that will supply energy to the muscles for a sustained period, as well as providing all the ongoing nutrients your body requires.

Follow the well-known principles of a balanced diet shown in food pyramids; lots of fibre and carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables, and protein. Avoid fat which is harder for your body to break down, and sugar, which provides fast but short-lived energy. Water is vital, especially in hot weather. It’s important to drink before, during and after a ride to replace fluids. For maximum performance, eat often, eat well, and consume lots of different foods each day.