This is a sponsored article in association with Red Bull.
Hilly road bike rides, singletrack mountain bike detours, Brompton-based adventures and even hire bikes; it’s safe to say the BikeRadar team likes a bike-based commute. But recently, we hopped on our bikes to clock up miles for the Red Bull Million Mile Commute.
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Trains, tubes, cars and coaches
The commute is a daily reality for most UK workers, with many travelling for 30 minutes to an hour to and from work every day. It’s expensive, often stressful, and frequently involves being jammed in someone’s armpit for the duration.
But switch to walking, running or cycling, known as ‘active transport’ options, and that time becomes an opportunity to get fitter, healthier and less stressed. The benefits of cycling in particular are well documented; commuters who cycle instead of other options can cut the risk of developing cancer, and it could even improve your sex life!
What is the Million Mile Commute?
It’s exactly what it says on the tin! Red Bull wants to see if it can get more people in the UK active this summer, and running or cycling to work rather than driving are ideal ways to do it. Obviously on BikeRadar, we’re biased in favour of the cycling option.
Organised in association with Strava, you can join the Million Mile Commute club via your account and log your commuting activities. All you need to do is tag the relevant journey ‘commute’ and Strava will do the rest.
The top mileage achieved by runners or cyclists each week gets them a spot on the league table, and the ever desirable Strava cup graphic to pop next to their profile.
BikeRadar commutes to work
Funnily enough, the BikeRadar team are eager bike commuters. Whether it’s a short hop around the corner or a longer stint, we’ll hop on a bike if we can, and have been known to take detours down inviting country lanes or interesting off-road single track en route if the mood takes us.
Here's how we got on...
Paul Robson, Cycling Plus magazine
"Waking up to the sound of rain on the roof can make the heart sink when you know you’ve got a 16-mile ride to work, but mulling over the other options – catching the bus to then catch a packed train, or a park and ride journey vulnerable to the increased traffic the bad weather brings out – soon makes you realise that cycling to work still wins.
"It was very wet out there, and I had to leave the Brompton that is finely tuned ahead of the World Championships [Ed: Yes, there is a Brompton World Championships] in the garage (my plan was to do yesterday and today’s full commute by folder as ‘training', so at least I did yesterday’s), but one of the many virtues of the Bristol-Bath cycle path is that it keeps you away from the traffic and all the road muck that it throws up.
"With mudguards and a good waterproof, I survived, saved money and got a few free miles in. And it’s supposed to dry up for the ride home!"
Aoife Glass, Women's cycling editor, BikeRadar
"I've got a spot of bother with my knees at the moment which means I'm avoiding anything too strenuous on the road or mountain bike side of things to give them a rest, and that also means I'm getting the train in to work in the morning.
"However, I still have a 20 minute walk from the station which isn't great on my knees, either. Happily, Bristol recently acquired an app-based city hire bike scheme called Yo Bike which means for a measly £1 I can hope on a bike at the station and gently cruise to the office at an easy pace. It's quicker than walking, easier on the joints and cheaper than a taxi.
"When I used to live in London, I was a big fan of using 'Boris Bikes', or Santander Cycles to give them their current official name. They were so convenient for short hops around town, and a much more pleasant way to get about that squeezing on a crowded and slow bus or hunkering down in a hot sweaty tube carriage. City hire bike schemes are great because they give more people access to bikes without the cost of having to own and run one, and without the stress of finding somewhere secure to lock it up at work!"
Oli Woodman, deputy editor, BikeRadar
"I try to ride to work every day, and consider commuting by bike important for my health and wellbeing. Sometimes I do struggle with motivation, particularly on wetter days, but 45 minutes on a Bristol bus soon changes my mind.
"Navigating safely through early morning traffic is sometimes a challenge, and I’ve learned the importance of making myself as visible as possible. I always commute with a backpack; inside you'll find a change a clothing as well as my laptop and photography gear. My commute is short yet steep, making it a breeze on the way to work but a bit of a chore on the way back. Priming myself with coffee and sweets usually does the trick.
"When I’m not riding my long-termer, I frequently use this time to try out all sorts of test bikes. I’m fortunate enough to live a short spin from decent mountain bike trails, too, so post-work rides are never too much of a problem. I tend to track most of my commutes on Strava, and use a Fitbit Blaze to track times and efforts.
Seb Stott, technical writer, BikeRadar
"My commute is not a long one. From the outskirts of Bristol, near the Clifton suspension bridge, to the BikeRadar offices in the centre; it usually takes me about ten minutes by bike.
"Very occasionally – perhaps because I have to pick up several bikes from the office for testing – I am forced to drive rather than cycle. Due to Bristol’s busy traffic, perpetual roadworks and unique one-way systems, this can take as much as three times as long. That’s why I ride to work 99% of the time. I often ferry test bikes back and forth on my commute to avoid the drive, even though this means riding knobby-tyred mountain bikes through Bristol's backstreets.
"In our office, we’re lucky to have access to cycling-friendly facilities like secure bike cages, showers and clothes driers, which make cycling to work fuss-free even in the wettest conditions or the muggiest of mornings. That makes a real difference."
Joe Norledge, videographer, BikeRadar
"I’m lucky in that my cycling commute is short, around eight minutes door to door, but being a keen racing cyclist I often use my morning commute as a training ride. There’s a good group of us that regularly go out for a longer ride and a few hills before work. I find it’s a brilliant way to start the day.
"Today was pretty wet, and with the prospect of a dry afternoon I decided to ride into work early so I could do my training later on in the day. Either way my commute from work forms a vital part of my training whilst holding down a busy job."
Josh Evans, social media manager, BikeRadar and Cycling News
"Following a complete lack of riding so far this summer due to trying to make my house liveable, a rare commute in the glorious wet British summer this morning put a massive smile on my face.With a lack of riding comes a lack of fitness, but the gentle 5km ride in on the cyclocross bike was a doddle.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel at my house, so I can soon stop channelling my inner Nick Knowles and start joining the BikeRadar crew once again for #AMKMs in preparation for the cyclocross season."
Jonny Ashelford, Workshop Manager, BikeRadar
"I ride my bike to work instead of an expensive train commute, and doing so saves plenty of money. I’m now on Commute #144 on Strava and have logged 1800 miles on various bikes ranging from mountain bikes to gravel bikes or race bikes. Fat tyre road bikes are the nicest to ride on some of the rough surfaces, but the race bikes are by far the best when it's time to get home before my sons' bedtime!
"I don’t always love the ride, there are certainly challenges that I try to push myself through, and I find myself checking Strava for segments and possible KOMs (or just PRs to be honest).
"I’m a mountain biker at heart, but even when during extreme weather, its better than getting the train, and faster than driving. I'm getting a lot fitter from it, too, so when I do get out on the MTB, I'm finding things a lot easier than I did during the train days!"
Keen to get on your bike? We've got loads of advice and tips to turn you from newbie to super-commuter in comfort and style.
- This summer commuters in the UK ditched the bus for their bikes and collectively commuted 1 Million Human Powered Miles! However, you can still get involved with the Red Bull Million Mile Commute here and be eligible for some fantastic prizes!