Ride your bike!

We’re so happy that you’ve decided to join us and hop on your bike! Riding a bicycle is the most efficient way to travel in terms of carbon footprint – it even has a lower carbon footprint than walking as you need fewer calories per mile!

Whether you’re an experienced rider or a beginner, we’ve gathered lots of advice from experienced cyclists to help you pedal your way to success.

For shorter journeys you may find that cycling is even faster than using a car or public transport if you take into account parking times, walking to the station or bus stop, and then to your final destination.

What do I need?

The basics: Bike. Lock. Helmet (mandatory in some places, personal choice in others). Bike lights for cycling at night.

Additional extras: Drink and snack. Panniers or bike basket. Bike pump and tools. Puncture repair kit. Waterproofs. Reflective gear.

Getting started

If you haven’t been in the saddle for a while, make sure your bike is roadworthy before using it. Depending on the condition, this could mean a few simple checks at home – or a full service at a bike workshop. The Bike League’s ‘ABC QUICK CHECK’ is good practice before a ride:

Air: Pump your tyres to the correct PSI (listed on the side) using  a pressure gauge. Inspect for any damaged or worn treads and replace if necessary.

Brakes: Check brake pads for wear and replace if needed. Make sure brake pads aren’t rubbing. Ensure that the brake mechanisms are working.

Cranks + chain: The cranks on your bike connect the pedals to the chainset – make sure they aren’t wobbly. Check the chain is free of dirt and rust. Lubricate if required. 

We recommend Green Oil.

Quick releases: Some bikes have a quick release mechanism to enable the wheels or saddle to be easily removed.  Check that they are tightly closed and pointing towards the rear of the bike.

Check: Have a quick ride to check the brakes and gears to ensure that your bike is working properly.

Adjust your bike: Make sure your saddle is at the right height. This advice is from Cycling UK: “Saddles that are too low make it hard to use your full pedalling range and leg power; saddles that are too high have you straining and can lead to injury. Ideally, you need your saddle height set so there is a very slight kink at your knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.”

Plan your route: If you’re doing a trip by bike for the first time, it can be helpful to plan your route in advance and decide where you’re going to store your bike when you arrive. Allow yourself a little extra time to freshen up before you start work. 

Don’t rely on estimated travel times from your route planner. Google Maps can be quite optimistic with its timing!

What to wear: You don’t need fancy cycling gear to get started. As long as your clothing is safe to ride in, you’ll be fine in your normal clothes. Steer clear of baggy trousers, scarves or long skirts which could get caught in the chain or wheels. Roll up your trouser leg or use reflective trouser clips to keep them under control. Avoid tight skirts or fitted trousers as they can make it hard to pedal. Dress properly for the weather, and remember that cycling can add a wind chill factor so pack some gloves and a hat. Bike helmets are mandatory in some countries and states, and a personal choice in others.

On the way: Remember to follow the rules of the road, and be courteous to pedestrians and drivers. If the bike doesn’t have a bell, call out politely to let people know you’re approaching. Be confident and ride 1m away from the edge of the pavement. Make eye contact with drivers at junctions to ensure they’ve seen you. Stay hydrated and enjoy the ride!

Arriving and getting home: Use a good quality lock and keep a spare key somewhere safe. Lock your bike to a fixed metal object such as a railing or rack, ideally somewhere busy and covered by a CCTV camera. Make sure not to block the pavement or lock your bike to someone else’s by mistake (this has happened to me and it was sooooo annoying!). When you arrive home, give your bike a quick clean. Remember to lock it even if it’s in a shed or garden – over 50% of bike thefts are from private properties.

What’s the carbon footprint of cycling? Good question! This figure varies due to a number of factors including fitness, weight, terrain, and – perhaps surprisingly – what you eat to power your ride. 

The production of a bicycle sets you back only 5g per kilometer driven. That’s about one tenth compared to the production of a car.” Add to that the CO2 emissions from the average European diet, which is another 16g per kilometer cycled. In total, riding your bike accounts for about 21g of CO2 emissions per kilometer – again, more than ten times less than a car!” SOURCE: European Cycling Federation

In How Bad Are Bananas, Mike Berners-Lee calculates that cycling a mile powered by bananas generates just 40g CO2e, yet this would rise to 310g if you were fuelled by a cheeseburger. Add 10-100g per mile for the embodied carbon footprint of the bike and accessories. Taking into account the emissions caused by food means that riding an eBike is apparently more environmentally friendly than a pushbike, as the rider uses less ‘fuel’! Use renewable energy to charge those batteries for maximum benefit.

The Ailuna team includes several fairly experienced cyclists – if you have any questions pop over to the Community page and we’ll try to help you out. Thanks for joining this challenge. Stay safe and enjoy the ride!