Bikes are a mode of transport. When you try and mix two modes of transport together, you can travel 0-shitty in 2.5 seconds.
For those of you who have used the train to get to a cycling event or travelled home with your bike, you’ll understand this trauma all too well.
This week I booked my train tickets home for Christmas. I’m bringing my bike because, even though I am not entering #Festive500, I’m convincing myself to ride every day between the 24th-31st (with a minimum duration of an hour). Mostly to give me a focus, find a cycling pattern again and have a reason to brave my fears everyday.
However, I’m already beginning to panic about the bag slash bike slash busy journey home to The Wirral.
To keep me distracted and light hearted about the situation, here’s my top 10 tips on how to cope with the Christmas commute:
1. Book a bike space
Sounds obvious. It wasn’t for me. I learnt the hard way that your bike needs an actual ticket that is actually connected to the bike.
2. Bring string
Your bike doesn’t have pockets. I was advised by Lorna North that the best answer is to pack some string. Similar to a race number, tie it around your handlebars like an absolute pro.
3. Pack lightly
I’m rubbish at this, especially over Christmas when you need to be prepared for day, night, relaxed, formal, fitness, cycling and big comfies. The less luggage you have though, the less people you’ll knock out so maybe leave that fourth cardigan at home.
4. Arrive early to the station
The sprint across the station is embarrassing enough, let alone with a bike. Get there early and find a spot to sit whilst staring at the departures screen. You can use the time effectively to plan the fastest routes to the various platforms.
5. Organise transport at the other end if needed
6. Be more George (’s amazing spaces)
Relating to number 3, be more George and use your space wisely. Learn from the chaps over at kitbrix and Rapha.
7. Be vocal
Thankfully, Liverpool Lime Street is the last stop on the journey so I can sit back, squeeze up next to a fellow passenger, and wait till the train arrives at ‘its final destination’. However, if you aren’t the last on the line, make sure the train man is aware that you are with bike. You don’t want to miss your stop because the bike door doesn’t open - aint nobody got time for that this Christmas.
8. Skip the Starbucks
Trying to sip your latte whilst darting for a good seat is not the one. There’s a time and a place to hold hot drinks. A bike and bag balancing act is not that time.
9. Know your limits
Most of us don’t like asking for help. But if in doubt, there are people who can help all over the station. One of the train workers helped me last year when I had too much to hold to manage my way up the stairs. I figured asking for help would be far less embarrassing than falling arse over tit whilst wearing a winter knitted jumper.
10. If all else fails...
Get a Brompton.