Creative Commuting | Making Your Urban Ride Work For You

Creative Commuting | Making Your Urban Ride Work For You


– In my eyes, you can never
ride a mountain bike too much, although daily life does have the habit of getting in the way
of this sort of thing. But if you’re creative,
you can turn any ride, even your daily commute, into one that tests you a little bit, and tests those skills,
gets the heart rate up, and more importantly, is great fun. Here’s how I use my
commute for exactly that. (light rock music) (rattling) The GMBN offices are
located in the city of Bath. Now Bath is effectively like a bowl, which means you’ve got
loads of hills around you, which also means there’s
loads of flights of stairs, little pockets of alleyways,
and really cool terrain you can use quite creatively. That’s exactly the sort
of thing that you can do to build a fun route to
use on your daily commute. Now just a little tip. Look at all those little
green bits on the map, and try and connect them up. We’re here in Alexandra
Park, and this is ideal. There’s some really good, cheeky little ways down to the city center
that are pretty technical, a little bit hairy, and great
for topping up on your skills. (peaceful music) Now the key to a really good urban ride is actually planning it out a bit. And now this is where
Google Maps is your friend. Put on satellite mode. Have a look around the town you’re in. Now for example, I’m going from home, which is up over top of one
of the hills around Bath, and I wanna make my
way to the GMBN office. Now as the crow flies, I
could probably get there in 15, maybe 20 minutes,
but that’s not quite enough. I wanna have a bit more of a ride. So, looking at this, so
what I can see here is, I wanna come down this main road, then there’s a green patch
here, that means some woodlands. So, I’m gonna go into those woods because I also like to combine a bit
of everything that I can. (energetic rock music) Then I’m gonna go down through here, blast down that road as
fast as I can possibly go, (bike whooshing by) and then actually to
get to the next section, there’s a bit of a disgusting hill climb. But actually, it’s pretty
good to have a little bit of pain in the mornings before work. Gets that heart rate going,
gets the legs burning, gets the lungs fired up,
helps you focus more. (panting heavily)
(energetic rock music) Difficult, it’s an urban ride, it don’t mean it has to be easy. That all right. Mountain bikes ain’t good at this but, (panting) I’m doing 25 BPM. It’s a good way to start the day. (energetic rock music) Get those legs burning,
get those lungs burning. Onwards and upwards. (energetic rock music) So far as the concrete jungle
goes, this is a real find. So it’s a nice steep, rolling
down flight of stairs. Bit of a slippy steep
tarmac off camber bank, and onto a really nasty,
90 degree left turn, and down what looks like a
really steep flight of stairs, especially at the top here. Now if this was wet, it
might be a different story, but today it looks bang on. So there’s a lot of factors here you have to take into account. Firstly, there’s your approach, coming in. You gotta make sure there’s
no one around when you do. So I can actually check this
on my run in at the top, I can glance over the fence, roll down this first
flight of stairs here, and this is great, this
is pretty rough stuff so, it does feel a bit like
an off-road sensation. Come down to this corner, and my bike’s actually too
long to get around this turn, so it involves a bit of trail skills here. And I actually have to get my front wheel onto that first step before
I can actually straighten up in order to get down here so, it’s actually quite a technical maneuver, and actually, it does
get the heart rate going because it is pretty dangerous. And off we go. (wheels thudding) Now the steps themselves at the top here, they’re really high, they’re
actually facing downhill, so braking on them is
not really gonna happen. So there’s definitely an
element of speed control. You have to do it first
before you get off the brakes. And then the steps themselves, they vary in the length and the height. So the whole thing is
pretty rough to ride, much like riding a rooted
section in the woods. You have to approach it in the same way. You can’t brake on it. You’ve gotta have quite a
light touch on the bike. And this is where your
suspension set up firm for urban is actually really gonna come in because it’s not gonna bog down too much. In theory, it should help me
pass through across the top, pretty quick. (peaceful music) Now we’ve got a video over on GMBN Tech, on the very specific details
I’ve done to this bike, in order to get it ready
for this sort of riding. Be that just your daily commute, or something a little bit rougher. But a basic breakdown is the fact that I’m running a lot more low speed compression. But I’ve not got my climb switch on. I’ve just got the low speed compression nearly fully wound in. The same on the shock,
and the same on the fork. So the idea is it doesn’t
move around too much to my body weight when I’m
sprinting, riding stairs, that sort of stuff, it
keeps the bike propped up. Tires, I’m between 40 and 50 PSI. I haven’t got an exact
reading on these at the time. If you check that video out,
I’ll let you know in there. But on the rear, I’m actually
running an insert in there, because this stuff is pretty rough. And a few times today I have actually rimmed out on the back. But with the insert in there,
you just feel a slight womp, as opposed to a proper ding, and then that dreaded,
dented rim you can get. As for safety aspects,
I’ve got a rear light. This is just approaching
to a USB on a computer. There’s no sort of moving parts, as such, there’s nothing to
open and get water inside. It’s nice and reliable. And up front I’ve got a
little exposure light here. Same thing, it lasts about
an hour on full chat, but I only ever need it
on the minimum setting, just for urban riding. (peaceful music) Cycling is quite often
like we’re in dark holes, so I’m actually wearing
a reflective layer. Might not look it, but it is reflective. And I’m actually wearing some
waterproof trousers as well, which makes a big difference because, as you can see by the state of my bike, I’ve gotten a little bit dirty today. It does mean I can take
them off at the other end, have a shower at work, and my
kit is not gonna be drenched. Now usually when heading
out mountain biking, I’ll take a proper hydration
pack, like a CamelBak. Now today I’ve got my
regular day-to-day bag. And now inside here, I’ve got a T-shirt, I’ve got some spare pants, some socks, just enough stuff, I always
keep some jeans and trainers, and a spare hooded top by
my desk, ready for this. So I can just go out ride in the morning, have a shower when I get
to work, get changed. Job’s a good ‘un. (light rock music) Now just because we’re
in an urban environment, it doesn’t mean you can’t
get something similar to riding in an off-road environment. So this is a flight of stairs. It’s not that steep but
still, it’s pretty slippy. The gap between the steps themselves is pretty similar to my bike. So it’s actually quite like
riding up a rooty climb. The same exact technique is needed, as you need to shift your body weight, need to keep maximum
traction on that back rail. I have to be riding this in a low gear, but that actually makes it hard as well because the steps themselves
are really slippery. So that means I have to
unweight as I’m pedaling. And really to get all the
way to the top of there, is pretty flippin’ hard. (light rock music) Right here is a flight of stairs that actually makes it kind of fun, and it’s a bit of a challenge too. There’s a few little hidden factors. So today is pretty miserable and damp, the typical UK weather
that you’re gonna get on the morning ride into work or college. So I come blasting along
this section tope off, but I can’t come into this turn too quick. So simply you’re just gonna slide out, and lose your speed to get up those steps. So a trick to get around here
without getting a puncture, without damaging your wheel, and actually getting up those steps, is to actually come slow in, and then get a couple of hard cranks. You wanna be in quite a load here. And just before you hit that bottom step, push into the bike, and lunge as if you’re doing a bunny hop. That way when you do
hit some of those steps, your weight is off the
bike as much as possible. Then at the same time,
you need to be looking out to make sure there’s no pedestrians there, and get pedaling before
you lose your momentum, and carry on. Pretty tricky, but actually
a good technique to practice. Pretty good fun as well to be honest. (light rock music) (bike rattling) Well there you go, that is
pretty much how I use a commute. Not necessarily on a daily
basis, but a few times a week to top up on my skills and my fitness. If you wanna see a couple
more videos like this, click down here to see
Chris Smith’s version on an E bike, over on EMBN. And if you want to know a bit more about the bikes themselves, click down here. As always, don’t forget
to give us a big thumbs up if you love GMBN, and click
that subscribe button. (panting) (bike rattling)

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