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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 07-05-06, 02:33 PM   #1
jtgish
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What do I wear? - Newbie

Hello All,
I have picked out my bike, but now I need advice on clothing. I will be riding 12 miles round trip in Texas to work. There is not a shower at my work, so what do I wear for the 6 mile trip to work so I wont show up stinking? I wear shorts, t-shirts, and caps at work so I dont need to look nice, just cant show up reeking of body odor. Is going shirtless and gym shorts a good idea then change at work? Do I need cycling shorts that are padded? Is there cycling clothing that can also be worn casually? Thanks for any advice. Oh, I ride a Marin Kentfield.
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Old 07-05-06, 02:44 PM   #2
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At 6 miles your choices are pretty much endless.
You could easily get away with wearing a t shirt and shorts.
Your distance is well within my non padded cycling shorts range.

As for BO, I find that exercise sweat really doesn't stink much at all. Nervous sweat is far worse.
I would give your commute a try first and then decide where the deficiencies are.
You can always gradually change your clothing as the need arises. Ex: purchase cheap poly shirts from target and later purchase a jersey.

That being said, I love my cycling specific gear and am a complete addict. Cycling jerseys are amusing to collect and shorts are comfy. Of course, if I didn't have a 28 mile one way commute, I would not bother with them. It would be lovely not having to change when I arrived at work.
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Old 07-05-06, 02:51 PM   #3
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also a noobie...

Aloha, I did my first commute today - so I'm not an expert.
But I do like the shirt and shorts I bought:

Nike Dri-Fit UV shirt
Nike Dri-Fit shorts

Loose fitting, comfortable, and cool.
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Old 07-05-06, 03:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bloodhound
Nike Dri-Fit shorts

Loose fitting, comfortable, and cool.
psst

Running shorts (and the like) catch air like sails at the upstroke, to aggravate it they tend to “ride up” exposing your underwear (if any) to upcoming peds/cyclists.

That’s for sure a vision that would make gag, kind of the same way a very obese dude in spandex if you know what I mean.
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Old 07-05-06, 04:43 PM   #5
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Shower before you leave, wear shorts and a t-shirt and bring along your work clothes. Change in the bathroom at work and dry off your sweat. You can towel off with your bicycling t-shirt if it is still partially dry, or bring along a towel. You won't stink because you showered before you left. Put your deodorant on when you get to work because the sweating and toweling off would have removed any you put on at home.

At least this is what I do.
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Old 07-05-06, 05:01 PM   #6
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Commuting tips.

Well, you're about 3 miles shorter than I am. The amount that you sweat will be mostly dependent on two things:
1) weather (not to familiar with Texas weather, so I dunno if you sweat as much in low humidity...if you have low humidity)
2) how hard you work

I don't have a shower at work, either. You can pretty much get away with a washcloth, some deodorant, and another shirt if you're worried. Just head to the bathroom, a quick splash and dry under your arms and on your head & neck...you should be good to go. Talcum powder also helps dry you off.

If it rains, you will probably have to be careful with clothing. As far as clothes you can wear that look good for both, look at mountain shorts. You can also just get running shirts that wick, and they tend to look more presentable than cycling jerseys.

Check out some shorts like these:
http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=1122

If you're worried about space, throw a rack on your Marin and get a trunk bag. Even with some stuff in there, there's usually room for a spare shirt and pants rolled up...you may need that on incredibly hot or rainy days.
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Old 07-05-06, 05:01 PM   #7
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+1 to putting on deodorant when you get to work. I don't have far to go to work, but I'm always somewhat sweaty when I get there. I air-dry [Calgary has ambient 20% humidity or less], then put on my dress shirt and pants. I give the old sniff-test, and I'm good to go.
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Old 07-05-06, 06:03 PM   #8
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My commute is 6 miles each way. My workplace is casual, so I don't really change at all except to remove layers when it's cold or wet. I keep a pair of shoes at work but I often wear my SPD shoes all day.

My ride has a few climbs so I do get a little sweaty, but as long as I'm clean I don't get stinky. Nobody really cares if I show up to work a little sweaty.
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Old 07-05-06, 07:09 PM   #9
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Buy a fan. Being able to cool/dry off you and your kit quickly helps a great deal.
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Old 07-05-06, 08:10 PM   #10
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I exude freakish volumes of sweat, so I wear cycling clothes specifically because they help me stay cooler and drier. If you suffer from the same condition, you may want to skip cotton tees, because cotton is a sweat sponge. The cost of bike clothes isn't prohibitively high. Speaking as a certified cheapskate, I can say that you can find pretty good bargains on the clearance rack at bigger bike*shops.

I too don't have a shower at my work, so I use a wet wash cloth and a dry hand towel to clean off. Here's the key: Pour three or four capfuls of witch hazel on the wet wash cloth. Witch hazel cuts through sweat and gets rid of the odor. Works like a charm. Then slap on some deodorant and you're good to go.

Regardless, do what works for you when it comes to clothes and post-biking hygiene. I started out very conservatively, testing what worked and what didn't, and finally arrived a system that suits my needs to a tee (pardon the pun) and is now second nature to me.
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Old 07-05-06, 10:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabbo
I exude freakish volumes of sweat, so I wear cycling clothes specifically because they help me stay cooler and drier. If you suffer from the same condition, you may want to skip cotton tees, because cotton is a sweat sponge. The cost of bike clothes isn't prohibitively high. Speaking as a certified cheapskate, I can say that you can find pretty good bargains on the clearance rack at bigger bike*shops.
I agree on a couple levels. Stay away from cotton T-shirts. They get soaked and stay funky for hours and hours. By my handle you should tell I'm also a cheapskate. The best shirt deals I've found are at the local department stores. Find yoursel some soccer jersey or polyester workout T-shirts for 10 or 15 bucks. So they don't have pockets in the back... that's what panniers are for!

Same goes for shorts; cotten gets wet and stays wet. If you're too modest to wear lycra cycling shorts get baggy MTB shorts. Whichever you wear, the chamois pad will really help comfort wise. However, try going to Performance or Nashbar .coms and you can get some basic cycling shorts for 25 or 30 bucks. And if you don't like them you'll have no problem returning them for a refund or exchange, as both companies have a satisfaction guaranteed policy. Performance even sends return labels in the package.
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Old 07-06-06, 02:36 AM   #12
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Don't forget visibility - avoid black and dark colors if you are commuting with traffic. yellow, oranges and white for dusk/dawn commutes - yellow, oranges and bright reds for bright sunny commutes.
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Old 07-06-06, 05:16 AM   #13
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Shower before you leave so you may be sweaty but clean.
If it is really hot, pour some water over your head and jersey and roll the last section so you cool more than you generate heat.
Padded bike shorts are optional for your distance.
Synthetic wicking shirts are a good idea. The expensive premium ones are a bit better than the budget ones but both are a whole lot better than a damp cotton T shirt. Still I have ridden for miles using cotton, you still arrive at your destination.
Change into some clean clothes at work. Backpacks are uncomfortable in v hot weather so consider a small pannier/rack.
Keep a spare set of clothes (inc undies and socks) at work in case you forget to bring some in.
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Old 07-06-06, 05:47 AM   #14
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Ride naked, and take a towel for when you arrive.
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Old 07-06-06, 10:37 AM   #15
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Ok, we're 14 posts into this and nobody has mentioned AlertShirts. So I'm doing that now.
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Old 07-06-06, 11:47 AM   #16
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Oops, forgot about the alert shirt! Buy a box of wetwipes/baby wipes, and leave them at work. I usually have a spare shirt and socks, and shoes at work in case I get caught out in the rain. I'm in Houston, and the humidity here is just awesome! ;-) Quick drying clothes are your friend. Cotton can be the devil.
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Old 07-06-06, 01:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtgish
...what do I wear for the 6 mile trip to work so I wont show up stinking? I wear shorts, t-shirts, and caps at work so I dont need to look nice...
My workplace is also very casual -- shorts, t-shirt, sandals or sneakers. No showers either. My commute is 8.5 miles one way. I shower in the morning. I wear regular cycling clothes (bibs, s/s jersey). They wick away the moisture (aka sweat). After arriving at work and cooling down I take a sink bath. I keep a washcloth and hand towel at work. A touch of deodorant and baby powder does wonders.

If you don't want to wear lycra shorts or bibs, try mtn bike shorts.

To keep my feet cool I wear Lake cycling sandals.
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Old 07-06-06, 01:14 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbonnn
...nobody has mentioned AlertShirts. So I'm doing that now.
That's where the HHCMF shirts came from. They're too heavy (hot) for summer. I'll get mine out in October.
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Old 07-06-06, 01:32 PM   #19
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I carry baby wipes.
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Old 07-06-06, 02:11 PM   #20
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Mozul is right on target. The rule is that if you take care of your hygiene (shower/shampoo each morning and use effective deodorant), you won't smell too bad even if you sweat a lot from biking. Happens to me just about every day this summer - including today (my commute is only a couple of miles, but involves hills and I tend to go extremely hard, thus arriving dripping from head to toe).

I just wear khaki shorts and a t-shirt - you can bring a change of clothes along in a backpack or something, along with a towel and deodorant to re-apply when you arrive, then change in the bathroom and clean up a little. That should take care of any problems for sure. Don't know what to tell you about the helmet hair, though
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Old 07-06-06, 02:20 PM   #21
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A lot of bicycle clothing companies are making skorts with padding these days. I agree with the advice to try out your route on the weekend or a non-working day to make sure that everything works out ok.
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Old 07-07-06, 09:34 AM   #22
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Smell is not caused by sweat. Smell is caused by the reproduction of bacteria on your skin. Sweat helps those bacteria reproduce, but sweat itself is odorless. So, shower in the morning at your home before you ride in. You will arrive sweaty, but not smelly. A quick towel will remove that sweat from you, and then you're fine.

As for clothes, ignore the Nashbar/Performance advertising. Five $6 T-shirts from Target makes a lot more sense to me than a single $50 Nike DriLanceUltraFit Sweat-Wicking Wonder Shirt. When one gets dirty, you can wash it, and wear one of the other four.
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Old 07-07-06, 10:22 AM   #23
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I hate wearing a sweaty shirt at work and I'm sure my co-workers wouldn't enjoy it either. I have some cheap exercise shirts (non-cotton) I bought at Target for about $10 that I wear while riding. I change in the handicapped stall at work and wipe myself down before I put on my work clothes. I found that rolling my work clothes instead of folding them cuts way down on wrinkles.
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Old 07-07-06, 11:31 AM   #24
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the most important thing to wear is a very brightly colored shirt so you are highly visible to the cagers. day-glo orange, neon green etc.

for just 6 miles unless it is hilly there is not much reason to arrive at work sweaty or smelly if you dont want to. just softpedal your way in, keeping your HR down, and go early enough before the sun gets up in the sky and starts heating the day

of utmost importance is a fan at your desk for cooldown!
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Old 07-07-06, 11:52 AM   #25
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Wearing the quick dry clothing also allows you to wash them at the office. If you perspire they will stink up the joint as they dry.
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