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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-14-17, 10:33 PM   #26
johngwheeler
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Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
I'm having a hard time grasping this... normally you take the ferry? How is your bike faster? I can't imagine you take the same route.
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Sorry about that. It got screwed up in editing. The Op never mentioned where he lives and I meant to list the Puget sound area as the kind of place where there are land routes or a ferry. I figured that since you lived there you could imagine the possibilities.

Obviously it would be hard to go around the direct crossing and come out ahead, but hypothetically one may live or work away from the ferry on either leg, in the direction of the land route. Ie. live on Bainbridge Island, and work at Sea-Tac (though that distance is probably too long for a bike commute.

By example, here in NYC, one may live up near the GW bridge and work across the river near the ferry, or even between the bridge and ferry. So it's very possible that the routes are roughly equal in distance, and a decent cyclist can easily beat the ferry/bus combination.
I'm the OP and I live in Sydney, Australia, not Puget Sound - although the latter sounds very picturesque!

My ferry routes does meander around the Parramatta river and it is indeed slightly quicker to get to some points by road, than the take the ferry, which travels at about 25km/h, but stops frequently along the river. I have various riding options and sometimes take a combination of bike *and* ferry, and cycle to a much closer ferry wharf to my destination. This saves time and some money, but requires better time and pace keeping to make sure I catch my connection.

John.
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Old 03-14-17, 10:51 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
I'm the OP and I live in Sydney, Australia, not Puget Sound - although the latter sounds very picturesque!

My ferry routes does meander around the Parramatta river and it is indeed slightly quicker to get to some points by road, than the take the ferry, which travels at about 25km/h, but stops frequently along the river. I have various riding options and sometimes take a combination of bike *and* ferry, and cycle to a much closer ferry wharf to my destination. This saves time and some money, but requires better time and pace keeping to make sure I catch my connection.

John.
Thanks for the explanation.

It's a bit interesting, because when I think "ferry" I picture a boat operating a shuttle across a river or channel, not one that cruises up a river making stops like a bus.

Given the time involved in docking and loading a boat, I imagine that it shouldn't be hard to beat it with a bike.
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Old 03-14-17, 11:08 PM   #28
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So, is it "shift labor" in an office?

How many people bike commute? Is there a logical.secure place to put personal lockers for bike commuters? Perhaps you could come up with a plan to present to your office management. It never hurts to ask.
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Old 03-15-17, 06:46 AM   #29
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John, it seems to me the challenges you face are more related to your job/office situation specifically than to bicycle commuting generally, which leads to some unhelpful advice. Each of us has a different job, a different commute, and a different way of making it work. And those of us who've been doing this for many years have forgotten many of the challenges we faced when starting out.

I suggest you get a briefcase that attaches to the bike like a pannier and carries only work-related things, not clothes or bike stuff, so you can carry the same briefcase whether you ride the bike or the ferry.

Is there no way to adjust your mode of dress so that you can wear the same clothes on the bike as you wear at your desk? Many of us do that. Others cannot. This might mean you change your bike to suit your clothes, rather than the other way around.

Slowing down, as many suggest, may be part of the answer. If you could ride the bike in "business casual" attire, even if the ride takes ten minutes longer, you'd save time.

If not, is there possibly a gym or the like somewhere near your office, where you could rent a locker on a monthly or longer term basis?
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Old 03-15-17, 06:53 AM   #30
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Prep the night before.
Then just accept the extra 25 minutes since it's far less time that it would take you to go to the gym.

If I commute by bike, it takes about 1 hour with prep and packing time vs. 15 minutes to grab everything and drive to work. That's an hour and a half a day I get to work out.
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Old 03-15-17, 07:27 AM   #31
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+1... Practice

When I'm coming off a week or more of non-bike-commuting I find myself back-tracking from the garage to the house or catching myself several times before I leave the house, for forgotten things, before I'm really ready to leave. When I'm commuting 4-5 days a week the departure routine becomes second nature and goes really smoothly.
The other thing is, just accept there is a minimum prep time, and don't try to cut it shorter than it realistically can be. Make it up by riding faster...
+1 on everything (especially the extra difficulty dialling back into the routine after a week off).
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Old 03-15-17, 07:49 AM   #32
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It may seem contrarian but I don't recommend getting things ready beforehand. That's for when you're doing something new, you have to think about it, make decisions, and don't want to forget anything. It doesn't really save time. The key is having organized habits, so routine that it's no different from getting dressed and running out to the car. Bags are handy by the bed, also gloves, hat, and whatever else I might need weather-related. It takes about a minute to grab a shirt, slacks, socks, fold and roll them up and stuff in a bag. Bag, keys, wallet, phone, belt, access card - I run the mental checklist on the way out and a quick ABC check on the bike and go. This part is faster than when I drive, or even if I used other modes, because I don't need coffee before the bike ride.

Why can't you drop your packed bag into the panniers? It seems like you have a time sink there.

At work, from parking the bike to shower and change also takes me 10-15 minutes, depending on if I have to wait at the gym, so I can't really help there except to point out that it probably replaces at least some showers at home so it might not be extra time spent. I think you have some slack in the return pack-up, because changing time is 2.5 minutes max. From my desk, four floors down the stairs, change, out to the bike, load up and go is 7-8 minutes total.
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Old 03-15-17, 08:42 AM   #33
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Can you put your whole backpack into a pannier? What I do is I have a drawstring bag that I put all my stuff into. It makes getting everything out very easy. I don't really use different bags, but it makes grabbing everything at one go so much easier.
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Old 03-15-17, 12:04 PM   #34
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My practices have enabled me to save time switching commuting modes from subway to bike and back:

Make a habit of emptying my bag every night. Lay out the things I need tomorrow whether I'm going to travel by subway or bike.

Wear clothes that lead to NOT needing a shower. The most important article for that is a wool t-shirt under my dress shirt. My workplace dress code requires me to have a collar on my shirt, so it's a given that I'll wear a woven, not-very-breathable dress shirt. I've found that a wool t-shirt under that wicks my sweat away without making my dress shirt wet. An added benefit of this is that the shirt doesn't need frequent washing. I typically wash it once a week, but I tested the limit, and it was OK after daily wearing for three weeks. The wool t-shirt is also appropriate for a wider range of temperatures than a cotton one is. It is not as hot as you might think in warm-ish weather, and it does keep me warm when the weather is cold, warm enough that I can often skip a sweater between my shirt and jacket. And it doesn't get soaked if I sweat heavily in the cold. A soaked t-shirt in the cold is a terrible thing.

If my face is sweaty upon arrival, I go to the men's room and wash my face and neck and maybe run water through my hair, too. Drying off makes me presentable, and the washing starts to cool my body down so I don't sweat from the rest of my body.

I wear wool socks year-round. Cotton socks can get wet, which promotes fungus on the feet, and when that gets bad, the fungus might stick with you for life. Never cotton socks.

Keep the bike ready to go, which might mean a tiny bit of maintenance every evening. Pump the tires if necessary, check the cleanliness and lubrication of the chain. Make sure the wheels are true and the brakes and gears are good. Brush off or wash off the worst dirt. I keep my commuter bike in my desk area of our apartment. I use spray-on furniture polish to wash my bike. The spillage on the floor comes right up with a paper towel or rag and doesn't leave a mess. Bike readiness includes having lights, a water bottle and a saddle-attached bag of pump, spare tube, patch kit, rag, tire levers, and maybe tools for minor repairs or adjustments. I might be more "prepared" than others, but I ride 14 miles each way and want to be self-supporting.

On the bike, I might carry shoes to change into because I usually use cleated cycling shoes. But if I don't want to do that, I also have a spare pair of work-appropriate shoes in the office.

I keep a spare set of clothes in the office in case I get soaked on the way in. I end up using this once or twice a year. It includes EVERYTHING, including t-shirt, dress shirt, pants, underwear, shoes and socks. Since I'm storing clothes, I might as well keep a jacket and tie for the very rare occasion that calls for them.

I rarely go shopping on the way to work or home from work, but to be ready for that, I keep a lock and home and a lock at work. I rarely use either lock, and I don't like carrying locks. If I unexpectedly want or need to go somewhere after work, I can grab the lock in my office.

A bit of thread drift: I also keep a spare helmet and bike at the office in case I arrived by subway and want to go shopping at lunch time or just take a quick spin apart from commuting.
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Old 03-15-17, 01:59 PM   #35
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Why does it take you 15 minutes to park your bicycle? That's definitely an area you can save time on with wheel locks or locks like this one from walmart that attach to your bike and use a key: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Kryptonit...Cable/17300983

If you can get away with using a backpack instead of a briefcase, then I'd recommend getting the banjo brothers backpack-pannier: (Convertible Waterproof Pannier/Backpack | Banjo Brothers). All you have to do when you get to work is take it off, flip the flap, pull out the straps, and put it on. Makes life 10 times easier. It's also waterproof. Definitely worth the price.

As for the clothes you wear, depending on how far you commute and the type of bike you're riding, I'd just wear regular clothes. If you have to wear different clothing, then I'd fold the work clothes neatly, put them in a string bag, and bungee them to the top of your rack. It also helps if you wear clothes that you can take off quickly- ie. not skin tight cycle clothing if you can avoid it.

I ride 6 miles to my high school and I always ride in the clothes I'm going to wear that day. I bring a sweat rag that I keep in the side pocket of the banjo brothers backpack next to my waterbottle. When it gets hot (I'm in Dallas-Fort Worth), I wear loose athletic shorts and a tanktop/white undershirt and put my clothes on top of the back rack, and use a camelback knockoff for water (about 2L per one-way trip in 100F heat). Deodorant and bodyspray are the true heros of my daily commute.

If you could manage with a folding bike then that's what I'd do. But it sounds like you like the workout/adrenaline so maybe your current bike is better for that.

Get the banjo brothers backpack though- that will save you soooo much time. Alternately, you could get a front rack and basket so that you just plop your work clothes and backpack in there and go. Just make sure you get a frame-mounted front rack (look for dutch front racks), so that the handling in the front isn't affected too much.
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Old 03-15-17, 03:30 PM   #36
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Any time-saving hints for a new commuter?
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
I've started to commute when the weather is fair, but find there is a considerable time overhead compared to my usual routine using public transport.

I find that I spend quite of lot of time preparing the stuff that I need to take on the bike, and transferring items from my normal backpack to the bike panniers. I don't commute by bike every day, so need to change bags.
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Originally Posted by 10Wheels View Post
Commuting or Touring What worked for me was to get it all readythe night before the ride.

Takes some time to get into a routine.

That should make it faster.
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
Yes, I think it's the mix on bike and non-bike commuting that interrupts the routine, especially with different bags.
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+1 on everything (especially the extra difficulty dialling back into the routine after a week off).
So true, about re-establishing the routine, even for me after one day not commuting. By way of preparation the night before, especially during the cold weather months or rainy days, dressing is very time-consuming. When I arrive home or at the workplace, I lay out all my clothes in the order I take them off. Furthermore, I usually dress in segments, particularly not to overheat indoors. So I make distinct piles for:
  • headgear and gloves
  • torso
  • legs and feet
I check the temperature in the morning to decide what to wear, and I’ll probably wear at least what I wore the night before. Otherwise, in my pannier bags on my aluminum bike I keep on one side all the various layers I may need throughout the winter, and on the opposite side, all my wet weather gear so all be with me for later in the day as the conditions may change.

I described another practice in this thread,"Bicycling or not, what items do you take with you that you never leave home without?" These are not only the standard items like wallet and keys, but also items I always like to carry all the time.
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Whether you are on a bicycle ride or not, what items do you always bring with you or 'never leave home without?..
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Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
…It's probably more interesting to ask what non-standard things do people always have with them…
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...I have a flat mesh black bag, about 8 x 6 x 3 inches I call my "clutch bag" with some of my non-standard items I take everywhere, including bike rides:…

Also, for cycling or otherwise, I wear a backpack with space for lightweight extra clothes for temperature variations, to put on or remove ([the clutch bag goes into the backpack] when I ride my carbon fiber bike.... or into the backpack when not riding).
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Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
Ride more slowly, so you don't have to change or shower. Remember, the purpose of a bike is to save energy, compared to walking or running. It is a convenience machine.

I don't get this prep stuff. Throw on a coat, hop on the bike, and go. No need to check the weather, because you are going there anyway. I started riding towork because it was EASIER than driving…
To each his own, but personally I ride 14 or more miles one-way to work all year round to ride fast for exercise and work up a sweat. Preparation is key, not only to save time but to be comfortable and enjoy more.
 

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 03-15-17 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 03-15-17, 04:48 PM   #37
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So, is it "shift labor" in an office?

How many people bike commute? Is there a logical.secure place to put personal lockers for bike commuters? Perhaps you could come up with a plan to present to your office management. It never hurts to ask.
No, not really shift labor; just a standard IT industry hot-desking arrangement, which is very common in large organizations (at least in Australia!). I'm a standard sort of senior IT professional, and almost no-one gets offices, or personal cubicles anymore, even managers. The rationale is that people spend a lot of time in meetings or at other offices/customers, and that the overhead of keeping personal desks that have maybe 50% utilization is inefficient. Welcome to the modern world! I worked in one place where you had to give up the desk if you were going to be away for more than 2 hours. I hate it personally - the office becomes a completely impersonal space and you might as well sit in a a library or cafe.

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John, it seems to me the challenges you face are more related to your job/office situation specifically than to bicycle commuting generally, which leads to some unhelpful advice. Each of us has a different job, a different commute, and a different way of making it work. And those of us who've been doing this for many years have forgotten many of the challenges we faced when starting out.

I suggest you get a briefcase that attaches to the bike like a pannier and carries only work-related things, not clothes or bike stuff, so you can carry the same briefcase whether you ride the bike or the ferry.

Is there no way to adjust your mode of dress so that you can wear the same clothes on the bike as you wear at your desk? Many of us do that. Others cannot. This might mean you change your bike to suit your clothes, rather than the other way around.

Slowing down, as many suggest, may be part of the answer. If you could ride the bike in "business casual" attire, even if the ride takes ten minutes longer, you'd save time.

If not, is there possibly a gym or the like somewhere near your office, where you could rent a locker on a monthly or longer term basis?
I think some sort of common bag for the bike/non-bike days would a good idea, so that I keep my stuff in one place. I could just ride with my backpack I suppose, but it's not ideal - I prefer the weight lower down, which is why I have expensive panniers!

I really don't like the idea of riding a bike in work clothes. I basically wear a suit without the coat / jacket, and these are not comfortable clothes to ride in (& I'd risk getting chain oil on my trousers, or pulling a button off my shirt. I have several hills to content with and this requires physical effort, which equals sweat (for me!).

However, I have found that the gym next to the bike storage facility *does* rent lockers for long-term storage. I think it's AU$30 / month. This may be the practical option in the end, but I'd obviously need to cycle regularly to ammortize this. With the Sydney autumn & winter rain, I'm not sure whether I'll be cycling that often. Darkness & rain doesn't sound like a lot of fun :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmie65 View Post
Prep the night before.
Then just accept the extra 25 minutes since it's far less time that it would take you to go to the gym.

If I commute by bike, it takes about 1 hour with prep and packing time vs. 15 minutes to grab everything and drive to work. That's an hour and a half a day I get to work out.
This. I view the bike riding time as a substitute for doing exercise at some other time in the day. I can extend my homeward journey to make it a bit longer if I want more of a workout. I estimate I burn 500 calories cycling in any case, so this is worth at least 30-45 minutes in the gym.
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Old 03-15-17, 05:00 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
No, not really shift labor; just a standard IT industry hot-desking arrangement, which is very common in large organizations (at least in Australia!). I'm a standard sort of senior IT professional, and almost no-one gets offices, or personal cubicles anymore, even managers. The rationale is that people spend a lot of time in meetings or at other offices/customers, and that the overhead of keeping personal desks that have maybe 50% utilization is inefficient. Welcome to the modern world! I worked in one place where you had to give up the desk if you were going to be away for more than 2 hours. I hate it personally - the office becomes a completely impersonal space and you might as well sit in a a library or cafe.
I suppose with laptops, tablets, and cell phones, you really don't need much space to park. Portable tool set.

I suppose it would depend if you're working in-house, with a lot of phone support, walking to people's offices, etc, or just hitting the office a couple of times a day, the spending then rest of the time in a mobile truck (cargo bike )

I always found it handy to have a few spare parts, test computers, keyboads, mice, etc. Anything it would take to be able to respond to an "emergency" quickly. But, then it would depend on the size of the IT department, and whether the space was shared or not.
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Old 03-15-17, 05:12 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
... I have found that the gym next to the bike storage facility *does* rent lockers for long-term storage. I think it's AU$30 / month. This may be the practical option in the end, but I'd obviously need to cycle regularly to amortize this. With the Sydney autumn & winter rain, I'm not sure whether I'll be cycling that often. Darkness & rain doesn't sound like a lot of fun :-(

...
Your call. But that doesn't sound so bad to me! Riding in the dark is perfectly normal for me; my morning ride to the station is dark all year, and my evening ride is dark for a couple winter months. You adjust to it, you get the gear right, and you get to like it. Or not; you'll have to figure that out for yourself.

As for rain, I don't like it, but there are those who do. Honestly I don't think I'd mind a thoroughly wet ride followed by a hot shower and dry clothes; my problem with rain is that if I get soaked between home and the station, I'll be sitting in a cold puddle on the train for an hour. That really is No Fun. I especially dislike the wet feet.
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Old 03-15-17, 05:30 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noglider View Post
My practices have enabled me to save time switching commuting modes from subway to bike and back:

Make a habit of emptying my bag every night. Lay out the things I need tomorrow whether I'm going to travel by subway or bike.

Wear clothes that lead to NOT needing a shower. The most important article for that is a wool t-shirt under my dress shirt. My workplace dress code requires me to have a collar on my shirt, so it's a given that I'll wear a woven, not-very-breathable dress shirt. I've found that a wool t-shirt under that wicks my sweat away without making my dress shirt wet. An added benefit of this is that the shirt doesn't need frequent washing. I typically wash it once a week, but I tested the limit, and it was OK after daily wearing for three weeks. The wool t-shirt is also appropriate for a wider range of temperatures than a cotton one is. It is not as hot as you might think in warm-ish weather, and it does keep me warm when the weather is cold, warm enough that I can often skip a sweater between my shirt and jacket. And it doesn't get soaked if I sweat heavily in the cold. A soaked t-shirt in the cold is a terrible thing.

If my face is sweaty upon arrival, I go to the men's room and wash my face and neck and maybe run water through my hair, too. Drying off makes me presentable, and the washing starts to cool my body down so I don't sweat from the rest of my body.

I wear wool socks year-round. Cotton socks can get wet, which promotes fungus on the feet, and when that gets bad, the fungus might stick with you for life. Never cotton socks.

Keep the bike ready to go, which might mean a tiny bit of maintenance every evening. Pump the tires if necessary, check the cleanliness and lubrication of the chain. Make sure the wheels are true and the brakes and gears are good. Brush off or wash off the worst dirt. I keep my commuter bike in my desk area of our apartment. I use spray-on furniture polish to wash my bike. The spillage on the floor comes right up with a paper towel or rag and doesn't leave a mess. Bike readiness includes having lights, a water bottle and a saddle-attached bag of pump, spare tube, patch kit, rag, tire levers, and maybe tools for minor repairs or adjustments. I might be more "prepared" than others, but I ride 14 miles each way and want to be self-supporting.

On the bike, I might carry shoes to change into because I usually use cleated cycling shoes. But if I don't want to do that, I also have a spare pair of work-appropriate shoes in the office.

I keep a spare set of clothes in the office in case I get soaked on the way in. I end up using this once or twice a year. It includes EVERYTHING, including t-shirt, dress shirt, pants, underwear, shoes and socks. Since I'm storing clothes, I might as well keep a jacket and tie for the very rare occasion that calls for them.

I rarely go shopping on the way to work or home from work, but to be ready for that, I keep a lock and home and a lock at work. I rarely use either lock, and I don't like carrying locks. If I unexpectedly want or need to go somewhere after work, I can grab the lock in my office.

A bit of thread drift: I also keep a spare helmet and bike at the office in case I arrived by subway and want to go shopping at lunch time or just take a quick spin apart from commuting.
You sound very organized! I have quite a few merino wool undergarmets - it's good stuff, as you say, and surprisingly dry when you sweat. I still don't like the idea of cycling with my current work clothes. Maybe I could tone it down to polo shirts and chinos - unless I'm meeting an external customer, probably no-one would care :-) I could keep a spare shirt, some wipes etc. in my small office locker (basically laptop sized but tall enough to stack a folded shirt).

Food for thought!

John
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Old 03-15-17, 05:37 PM   #41
johngwheeler
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Originally Posted by Whynot1999 View Post
Why does it take you 15 minutes to park your bicycle? That's definitely an area you can save time on with wheel locks or locks like this one from walmart that attach to your bike and use a key: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Kryptonit...Cable/17300983

If you can get away with using a backpack instead of a briefcase, then I'd recommend getting the banjo brothers backpack-pannier: (Convertible Waterproof Pannier/Backpack | Banjo Brothers). All you have to do when you get to work is take it off, flip the flap, pull out the straps, and put it on. Makes life 10 times easier. It's also waterproof. Definitely worth the price.

As for the clothes you wear, depending on how far you commute and the type of bike you're riding, I'd just wear regular clothes. If you have to wear different clothing, then I'd fold the work clothes neatly, put them in a string bag, and bungee them to the top of your rack. It also helps if you wear clothes that you can take off quickly- ie. not skin tight cycle clothing if you can avoid it.

I ride 6 miles to my high school and I always ride in the clothes I'm going to wear that day. I bring a sweat rag that I keep in the side pocket of the banjo brothers backpack next to my waterbottle. When it gets hot (I'm in Dallas-Fort Worth), I wear loose athletic shorts and a tanktop/white undershirt and put my clothes on top of the back rack, and use a camelback knockoff for water (about 2L per one-way trip in 100F heat). Deodorant and bodyspray are the true heros of my daily commute.

If you could manage with a folding bike then that's what I'd do. But it sounds like you like the workout/adrenaline so maybe your current bike is better for that.

Get the banjo brothers backpack though- that will save you soooo much time. Alternately, you could get a front rack and basket so that you just plop your work clothes and backpack in there and go. Just make sure you get a frame-mounted front rack (look for dutch front racks), so that the handling in the front isn't affected too much.
I like the look of the back-pack - not sure whether they're available in Australia, but something like this would be a great solution.

John
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