If you’ve decided to take the plunge and commit to commuting by bike, then congratulations! You’re in for a positive and rewarding change to your lifestyle. If you haven’t already, check out the bike commuting page for basic information on how you can get started. Here we’ll focus primarily on the type of clothing you should consider when commuting by bike.
Deciding What to Wear
When determining the type of clothing to wear when commuting, the main consideration will be the length of your route. If you’re commute is a relatively short one, around 8 miles or less, and you are traveling mostly on paved lanes and city streets, you can probably get away with wearing your regular everyday clothes or work clothes. You might choose to carefully pack your dress coat for when you get to work, especially during the warmer months. Also, guys can tuck their ties into their shirts to prevent them from whipping around, and women who wear skirts can simply throw on a pair of cycling shorts for the ride in to prevent giving passers by a peep show from unexpected gusts of wind!
And if you have flat pedals, you can wear just about any type of shoe, from boots to dress shoes or heels. As a matter of fact, the stiffer soles actually help improve your ride. However, a lack of grip on your shoes may make it more difficult to keep your feet on the pedals. For this reason many commuters wear a seperate pair of shoes for the ride and carry their work shoes with them.
Those who have a longer ride in may opt for wearing cycling-specific clothing for the commute and changing into work clothes afterward. This would also include the shoes and perhaps even the pedal system as well. Commuters with longer routes will quite likely have a more appropriate bike for the ride as well, for example a hybrid style bicycle rather than a cruiser.
How Do I Clean Up After My Commute?
This is a natural concern for most people, since no one wants to be guilty of having BO, especially in the workplace. If you are lucky enough to have access to a shower where you work, great. If not, there are simple steps you can take freshen up and stay that way for the rest of the work day. Remember, everyone sweats at least a little anyway when it’s hot outside or after walking several blocks to get somewhere, and somehow we usually manage to come out smelling OK.
First, although it may seem counter-intuitive, many people shower before they leave for their commute. This way you get a fresh start right off the bat. Next, a few minutes before you reach your destination, try to take it a little slower to allow for a cool-down period, as this can help a lot. When you get to work, freshen up with some baby wipes, maybe a little talcum powder and put on some fresh deodorant and you should be good to go. You can leave these items at work so you won’t have to worry with keeping up with them.
Also, if the idea of cramming your nice clothes into panniers seems less than optimal, you might consider driving in one day a week to bring an entire week’s worth of clothes with you. This way you’ll have fresh, clean and wrinkle-free dress clothes already waiting for you when you get in.
Commuting in the Rain
Even if you plan on arranging other means of transportation on rainy days, it’s still a very distinct possibililty that you’ll get caught in an unexpected shower, so it’s a good idea to have some sort of plan to deal with this ahead of time. If you’re on the way home and you don’t have anything important planned, then you have a lot more options. For instance, you could pull over to a store, an underpass or a breezeway to wait out the rain. Or you could just get wet since you’re on the way home anyway, although it’s not necessarily a pleasant experience, even in the hot summer months.
Another option is keeping rain gear on hand. Although it’s a virtual impossibility to keep completely dry when riding a bike in the rain, having things like a rain coat and helmet cover can definitely make a difference. And one thing is for certain, there’s nothing worse than riding with wet shoes and socks – and trust me, unless you take precautions your shoes will completely fill with water when riding in the rain. Investing in a pair of cycling shoe covers for rain will be money well spent.
Commuting in the Winter
When it comes to riding in the colder weather months, you’ll want to do things a little differently than you would normally. The important thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want to achieve a balance of keeping warm without causing too much perspiration. Rather than wearing one big heavy winter coat, wearing layered clothing is far better suited for bicycle commuting during cold weather. Having items like cycling tights, thermal underwear, long sleeve shirts, a windbreaker, jersey or hoodie can all be used in any number of combinations to maintain optimal body temperature.
Obviously, you’ll also want to have a decent pair of gloves and something to cover your head as well. You might also want something to protect your face from the wind, such as a scarf or baclava. Of course, keeping your feet warm is also of critical importance. One convenient and practical solution to this is obtaining a pair of cold weather shoe covers.