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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 06-05-06, 04:54 PM   #1
Asyrol
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Commuting and Clean-Up

Hello Everyone!

I'm going to commute to work for the first time tomorrow. I work in an office building and need to dress professionally - I'm a receptionist so I'm in contact with many people. You can see my route at http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=217734. It's only about 6 miles and mostly downhill going to work. Here are my questions to you:

1) My work has showers and lockers and I'm wondering if I should count on having to shower tomorrow when I get to work, or if I should be ok with a washcloth and some soap? (I'll take a shower when I get home after my big uphill ride)
2) I will be wearing my cycling clothing on the ride, so I'll have to pack clothing and change there and all I've got is a backpack - any tips on brining nice clothing to work? Any tips on storing cycling clothing in a half-locker so that they're not disgusting when I put them on at the end of the day?
3) Any other advice on tidying up after your commute so that you look professional?

Thanks in Advance! I'm a little bit terrified and a whole lot excited about tomorrow
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Old 06-05-06, 05:06 PM   #2
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It is up to you. Ride at the same level of energy as walking and you will arrive dry. Hammer and you can walk in the door wringing wet. Everyone has their own priorities.

The simple rule for any clothing is always roll, never fold. On a warm summer day, you will be a lot more presentable than people who have walked to a bus stop. If you are dry, your bike clothing will be also. If they are damp, hang them so air will circulate and they will quickly dry.

Have fun! That's what really counts.

Paul
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Old 06-05-06, 06:46 PM   #3
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What about leaving a fresh set of clothes on a hanger at work in your locker? On the days that you drive into work, you can "stock" your locker with a few days of work clothes.

I'm lucky in that my employer also provides showers and lockers. And, I've planned out the logistics of commuting by bike. But, the shear length of my commute (22 miles), along with my start time (06:30) is a bit discouraging.
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Old 06-05-06, 07:15 PM   #4
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It is not clear from your post whether you're a man or a woman (don't want to be sexist and assume that a receptionist would necessarily be a woman). For men it is a little bit easier. I leave 1 pair of brown shoes, 1 pair of black shoes, 1 brown belt, and 1 black belt at work. I take shirt, tie, pants, underwear, socks and t-shirt in panniers. I also "reuse" pants that I leave at work a few days later. I try not to hammer on the way in so I only need to wash up in the sink on arrival. Going home, my goal is to be a sweaty mess.

Any suggestions from professional-dressed women about what they would leave or do you find it necessary to bring a full outfit every day?
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Old 06-05-06, 09:05 PM   #5
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IME, for a shorter commute like that, especially if you go early in the morning, clean-up is not a big deal. I'd rarely do much if any, and I sweat a lot! Completely changing from bike clothes to regular clothes usually does the trick. You're not likely to smell bad if you've taken a shower shortly before going out on the bike for your shortish commute. That being said, a spare stick of deodorant at work is a good idea, just in case.

As for clothing, yes, roll, don't fold. IIRC, someone once posted here about rolling around a core of something (I wish I remembered what) to reduce wrinkling even more.

If you're into backpack commuting, take a look at http://www.wingnutgear.com; waterproof and virtually weightless in the sense that you don't realize you have a backpack on most of time!
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Old 06-06-06, 05:10 AM   #6
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I suppose I should have mentioned - yes I am a female. I've already decided that ponytails and such are going to be the way things'll have to be when I commute - my head tends to get a little sweaty and if I'm not showering my hair will be a little gross. The only day I'm planning on not riding to work are Saturdays, so I think I'll take everyone's opinion and stock my locker with some work clothes on that day, to last me for the week. I only have a half-locker so I may go ask the security d00ds for a bigger one!

I'll report back later tonight on how it went. I'm feeling a little more nervous now than I did last night!
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Old 06-06-06, 06:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbojeff
For men it is a little bit easier.
Doesn't have to be any more difficult, actually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newbojeff
Any suggestions from professional-dressed women about what they would leave or do you find it necessary to bring a full outfit every day?
As a generally professionally-dressed woman who commutes about 12.5 miles, I do bring an outfit in each day, but I leave a pair of shoes in the office. I normally wear trousers, a blouse or tshirt, and a smart jumper/cardigan. That plus underwear and some lunch isn't so heavy. I have short hair, so showering at work is simple. I leave a small towel (it's a locked room, who needs a big one?) and shower gel/shampoo/hair gunk at work.

I roll the clothes so that the jumper and underwear are in the middle, then shirt, then trousers. I put the whole lot inside a canvas bag, then into the bag. Just so I don't have to worry how clean my messenger bag is really, or about my lunch leaking...
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Old 06-06-06, 06:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asyrol
I'll report back later tonight on how it went. I'm feeling a little more nervous now than I did last night!
Make sure to leave extra early the first several days, until you've got the route and timing nailed.
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Old 06-06-06, 06:31 PM   #9
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Update!!!

Well I survived!

I cried before I left because I was so nervous and terrified. That's more a symptom of my current hormonal imbalance and gap in my medication than any real indication of my state of mind.

I took a wrong turn near the beginning but luckily got back on track pretty quickly. It's mostly downhill so it wasn't too horrible. I got to work and did a quick rinse off, dried the sweat out of my hair under the hand dryer and got dressed. I gave myself 2 hours (my commute is about 45min on bike, plus time for traffic plus time to clean up and get dressed and get coffee, etc). I was all ready and at my desk 30min early!!!

Coming home wasn't quite as easy. I only have a half locker so by the time I got all of my stuff inside there wasn't much ventilation. Wet riding clothing is disgusting, yet I put it on and got on my bike. There's over 100 meters of climbing on the way home compared to 37m on the way to work. On my test ride my boyfriend jokingly grabbed onto my seat and pushed me part way up the big hill. How I missed him tonight! I laboured up the largest of the hills in the very smallest gear I had and this damn roadie passed me as if he was going along a flat and gave me a condescending look. Hrmph! At least I don't look like a tour de france wannabe!

After the big hill (which anyone who is actually in shape will tell you isn't really a big hill) it's pretty easy, lots of small ups and downs. I made it home in 34 minutes according to my computer. We clocked the test ride at 45 so I did pretty good! I didn't freak out too much and managed to keep my cool during the "tricky" parts of the ride (left turns at busy intersections).

I will be riding tomorrow, and later this week investing in a second set of shorts to have fresh clothing for the ride home.
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Old 06-06-06, 06:53 PM   #10
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Good deal! Congrats!

Many reception areas are like fortresses and look like they might have room under the desk for something to hang and air out. Any such luck for you??

For those without showers at work - I use body powder - I think it's Desenex but whatever brand would probably suffice. Works great.
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Old 06-06-06, 07:12 PM   #11
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I hear baby wipes are pretty good for cleanup, too, but just get some unscented ones if you can so you don't smell like a baby all day. I don't know personally because my office provides a shower. Congratulations on becoming a commuter! It's great fun, and I have more energy throughout the day when I commute by bike (which is most days).
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Old 06-06-06, 07:28 PM   #12
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No such luck, under our desk we've got two huge cupboards that take up most of the space, a mini-fridge, a garbage can and a recycling bin! Hardly any room for legs, let alone hanging my delicates I don't mind the wet so much as I do the chafing that went with it - the crease where my thighs meet my ass are red and sore. Should I try drying my shorts under the hand dryer? talc?

My boyfriend has suggested a second set of clothing. That way I'll always have a set at both work and home drying!
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Old 06-06-06, 07:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velogirl
I hear baby wipes are pretty good for cleanup, too, but just get some unscented ones if you can so you don't smell like a baby all day. I don't know personally because my office provides a shower. Congratulations on becoming a commuter! It's great fun, and I have more energy throughout the day when I commute by bike (which is most days).
I find that with my backpack and the warm days that I'm a little too sweaty for just baby wipes. I found that rinsing off in the shower was just perfect - didn't need to soap down or shower properly, just rinse off!
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Old 06-06-06, 07:51 PM   #14
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Congrats, Asyrol!
I knew you would do fine.

Paul
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Old 06-06-06, 07:54 PM   #15
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Congrats!
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Old 06-06-06, 08:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asyrol
Well I survived!

I cried before I left because I was so nervous and terrified. That's more a symptom of my current hormonal imbalance and gap in my medication than any real indication of my state of mind.
awww...<hugs>

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asyrol
I laboured up the largest of the hills in the very smallest gear I had and this damn roadie passed me as if he was going along a flat and gave me a condescending look. Hrmph! At least I don't look like a tour de france wannabe!
trust me, from personal experience..if the roadie's still looking at you and not the road, he's checking you out, not a condescending look...

sd
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Old 06-06-06, 08:57 PM   #17
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Congratulations! Don't get discouraged. This gets much easier as a) you get into better shape and b) even more importantly, you find what works for you in your work place.

Keep it up!!
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Old 06-07-06, 05:29 AM   #18
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You did great! Survival is the battle on the first days - and repeating. Ignore everyone, except positive people - the world is full of whinners and naysayers, they aren't worth listening too.

Pretty soon that hill will be nothing - and you might actually leave the roadie in the dust.
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Old 06-07-06, 05:40 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by shaq-d
awww...<hugs>



trust me, from personal experience..if the roadie's still looking at you and not the road, he's checking you out, not a condescending look...

sd
HAHAHA.. I'll remember that and make sure to wink the next time one's staring at me!
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Old 06-07-06, 05:42 AM   #20
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Pretty soon that hill will be nothing - and you might actually leave the roadie in the dust.
oh I don't know about that.. I'm sure the matching team bibs/jersey give him an extra few kms/h compared to my mis-matched hand-me-downs!
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Old 06-07-06, 07:35 AM   #21
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A bandanna under the helmet will provide sweat relief to the hair.

You might want to check out the underwear section of a sporting goods store. Look for stretchy, moisture wicking synthetic fabrics. They dry significantly faster than cotton, which might spare you the need to change. I <3 my UnderArmour compression shorts.

Congratulations on your ride! Don't be discouraged. It actually takes a few weeks to figure out all the little tricks and routines. Once you find your groove, you'll never go back.
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Old 06-07-06, 08:34 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asyrol
I don't mind the wet so much as I do the chafing that went with it - the crease where my thighs meet my ass are red and sore. Should I try drying my shorts under the hand dryer? talc?

My boyfriend has suggested a second set of clothing. That way I'll always have a set at both work and home drying!
Asyrol - I am a professional man, I commute 5 days per week, 15 miles each way. My routine:
I have a bike with a rear rack and I carry a pannier or two to carry my stuff - Each day I bring in clean clothes, sometimes I am also bringing paperwork, laptop computer, food to restock my office pantry etc.
Many commuters say they have good luck rolling their clothes - that has never worked for me. I neatly fold my shirt and pants, and put them in the pannier first, so they are against the hard flat back of the bag. I keep shoes at work, and usually use those. I keep a sport coat at work, although I usually don't need to wear that. Before leaving home I shave, floss and brush my teeth. I also eat a piece of fruit. When I arrive at work, I first power up my computer and do a quick check of e-mails, this give me a chance to cool down and stop sweating. I then shower, put on a deoderant, brush my hair get dressed. I hang my shirt in the room with the shower during my shower - the steam makes the few wrinkles at the fold lines fall out. I fix breakfast at work from my pantry - usually oatmeal and bran muffin or bagel. I am able to hang my biking garb in my office in an out of the way place so that it can dry before heading home - socks and gloves are usually still moist when I put them on .
Once I get home I usually have a quick rinse off in the cool shower before getting dressed.

You mention a chafing problem - are you wearing bike shorts, or running shorts? - Bike shorts will make a huge difference. Also look into Butt Balm, Chamois Buttr or some other thing like that to help with the chafing - shouldn't be happening on rides as short as yours, you should be able to completely avoid it. Deninitely invest in some more bike garb - It is expensive at first, but lasts well, and makes you sooo much more comfortable.

Every day you will get stronger - This morning it was raining, after I was showered and dressed, someone at the coffee machine made a comment on how bad it must have been to ride in when the weather is bad, I just smiled and enjoyed the warmth of the endorphin high that I was on and thought about how bad it must be to have to run to the coffee machine as soon as you get in the door. I'm sure that I enjoyed my commute more than he did his.
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Old 06-07-06, 11:47 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asyrol
oh I don't know about that.. I'm sure the matching team bibs/jersey give him an extra few kms/h compared to my mis-matched hand-me-downs!
I'm guessing the hill you're talking about is Poplar Plains Rd. I used to live right beside it and there were always people getting off their bikes and walking up the hill. If you can actually ride up it without stopping I'd say you're doing good for now! And the hill will get easier. I used to gasp for air at the top but now I don't even gear down.
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Old 06-07-06, 12:30 PM   #24
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Asyrol,

Many congrats on doing this. Commuting to work has change my life for the better and I hope the same happens for you!

I second the motion to buy some high quality performance/athletic underwear. Besides being very comfy, it significantly reduces sweat and it also dries more quickly.

Also, it is good to leave some clothing at the office for weather changes--that way you only need to worry about what to wear on the way in.

best wishes!
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Old 06-07-06, 12:43 PM   #25
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A *****'s bath with some baby wipes works wonders for me, but I'm not a very sweaty person.

The smartest thing I ever did for my clothes was ask an ex-Navy guy how to fold dress clothes so they don't wrinkle in a bag.
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