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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 01-13-07, 10:50 PM   #1
SHaterius
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Dealing with problems.....

So I am just curious. I love the idea of being car free, but have a few small problems. I am sure that many of you have had to deal with the same problems, but i am just curious what different people do. Anyway my situation is that I work somewhere where i have to wear nice clothes, and there is no shower or anything where I could clean up in. Also I don't have anyplace to put my bike when I get to work.

Last edited by SHaterius; 01-13-07 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 01-13-07, 11:35 PM   #2
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Hi Sven, welcome to the forum!

Here's what I did when I was an office monkey:

As long as you shower before work, you've fought half the battle already. You can "freshen up" at work adequately with a sink, two hand towels, baby powder, and a bar of soap, even in hottest summer when you have a tendency to get ripe on the ride. No need for worksite showers.

Item list in panniers:
1. Bar of soap and plastic camping soap container
2. Toothbrush and paste in ziplock bag
3. Cologne: Put it on after you get to work and after clean-up at work, not before, assuming you wear cologne at all - one light spritz each per wrist at 6 inches distance and one to chest. Not above the neckline. I prefer Versace Dreamer, but YMMV.
4. Two small hand towels - one for damping and one for drying
5. Work clothes
6. Deodorant/antiperspirant (only necessary if you sweat your ass off on the ride, but again make sure you wash up before application.)
7. Baby powder for the naughtiest bits.

I would put my work clothes in a set of rear panniers* (Ortliebs are waterproof, which was important living in snowy Buffalo like I did when I wasn't strictly working at home as I do now), and I rode to work in utility clothes. I would get to work 10 minutes early, go to the rest room and lock the door, do a quick clean-up of my naughty bits and freshen up with a bar of soap and wet hand towel, dry with the dry hand towel, apply talcum where appropriate, then change into my work clothes, in a stall if necessary. Reverse process for the ride back, except do a full shower at the home instead of using the sink.

*There are two ways of stowing work clothes in panniers: You can roll them up, which is fine for casual businesswear, and you can fold them if you have to wear a suit, or somewhere in-between. In my case, it was a full dress environment, so I rolled my pants and necktie up and folded my dress shirt and suit jacket. My dress shoes fit just fine in the panniers too. Stow your riding clothes in the panniers after making the switch. Since I cleaned significantly at work just before starting work, I was actually one of the cleanest-cut people there at the beginning of the day.

Try to embark for work earlier so that your ride is casual and you're not sweating like mad on the ride itself. You can still clean adequately on a sweaty day, but it involves more effort and patience with only a sink as help.

EDIT: As for where to put the bike: This is something that only you can solve. Most employers, if reasoned with, can accomodate you. If they can't, don't ride a nice bike to work. Buy a crappy beater if you're in a crime-ridden area, and just lock it outside to a tree or metal guard-rail or a sign post, preferably under a canopy of some sort. This may require more than one lock for safety, depending on location and value of the bike. I worked in the downtown High Street medical district of Buffalo, which was an awful area in terms of crime, and I never had anything stolen except a seat and seatpost once, but that was before I even thought of it and had a quick-release seatpost clamp, not particularly smart for security.

Last edited by Alekhine; 01-13-07 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 01-13-07, 11:54 PM   #3
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Rubbing alcohol will cut the ripeness. Do a sponge bath with it in the bathroom. There has got to be something you can lock your bike to on the company premises. At the last place, I locked it to an iron hand railing. Not the best, but the bike was never disturbed.
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Old 01-14-07, 12:10 AM   #4
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There is a hand railing but it is just right outside of the door. I work for an eye doctor and the building used to be an old house. I know how he is and I know that he won't want the bike out front all the time. I was actually thinking and there is a little shed that I can probably clean out a little bit and get a key to.

What kind of bikes do people usually use as a commuter?
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Old 01-14-07, 01:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SHaterius
What kind of bikes do people usually use as a commuter?
You could probably start with whatever bike you ride right now, unless it's too much of a theft risk. If you want to keep your eyes open for a good dedicated commuting bike, though, here are some things that you might find important (depending on the details of your situation):

• Grungy-looking enough to deter theft, and/or inexpensive enough to replace if stolen.

• Easy to attach rack, panniers, fenders (for wet or snowy weather), lights and other commuting gizmos.

• Sufficiently upright riding position that you can watch the road without getting a crick in your neck.

• Handles well under load (only important if you schlep a lot of stuff to work, or run lots of errands on the bike.)

• Bulletproof tires, and a general tendency to favor reliablilty over speed. (Unless the thrill of speed is part of what motivates you to get on the bike instead of firing up the car!)

There are a lot of bikes that meet all these criteria. I've commuted on a steel-framed touring bike, on a mountain bike, and now on a LWB recumbent, and they've all been great for the job. I would avoid commuting on a sleek road bike: they often lack brazed-on attachment points for racks & stuff, the chainstay can be so short that your heels keep kicking the panniers, they don't handle great under load, and thieves love 'em.

However, the best way to find out what you need in a commuting bike is to get out there on the bike you have, and then decide what you would change about it. Have fun!
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Old 01-14-07, 12:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SHaterius
So I am just curious. I love the idea of being car free, but have a few small problems. I am sure that many of you have had to deal with the same problems, but i am just curious what different people do. Anyway my situation is that I work somewhere where i have to wear nice clothes, and there is no shower or anything where I could clean up in. Also I don't have anyplace to put my bike when I get to work.
The Commuting forum has a lengthy list of topics covering everything you might ever possibly want to know about commuting to work. One thing I will add is that it's quite a bit of work to get organized. But don't get discouraged by it. Within a short while, it will all fall into place and you'll be glad that it did. I love nothing better than finishing work and looking forward to a ride home.
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Old 01-14-07, 02:14 PM   #7
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Like so many things, carfree cycling starts out difficult but soon, with practice, becomes simpler.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHaterius
Anyway my situation is that I work somewhere where i have to wear nice clothes, and there is no shower or anything where I could clean up in.
I have the same situation (I work in a hospital but wear street clothes, not scrubs.) I wear my cycling clothes on the bike and change to my work clothes (dockers and sport shirt) when I arrive about 10 minutes early. I also cool down a bit in this time. Usually I shower just before I leave the house, and I have not had an odor or cleanliness problem. You probably get hotter weather than I do, so this might be more of a problem for you. I carry my work clothes in my backpack. I fold/roll them carefully and I haven't had a problem with wrinkling. I put them in a plastic shopping bag so they don't get wet or soiled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHaterius
Also I don't have anyplace to put my bike when I get to work.
I worked with the security department to figure out a good place to put my bike. Talk to your employer or supervisor. Tell them the advantages of bike commuting. You'll most likely work something out. It is OK to leave a bike outside, if that's your concern. the main issue is theft an not pissing off your employer or clients.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHaterius
What kind of bikes do people usually use as a commuter?
I ride a mountain bike. But different people ride all the types of bikes. It's a matter of personal preference.
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Old 01-14-07, 02:34 PM   #8
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I'd search the commuting forum for "clothes" "dressing", etc. My work is casual, but I keep 4-5 nice button down shirts and a nice pair of shoes there. I wear regular shirt and shorts to ride in, and take jeans/belt with me in rack trunk, (sometimes wear same jeans 2 days, no one notices). Anyway I recommend keeping as much "wardrobe" as you can at work. Once you cool down you won't sweat in them, and if just worn 9-5 dress shirts, (with undershirt) can be worn a few times before washing. (I stink at ironing, so I'll have my dress shirts dry cleaned/ and folded, which makes them very easy to fit in my grocery pannier)
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Old 01-15-07, 02:52 AM   #9
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A mistake many new commuters make is thinking they should wear normal day clothes while riding to work. On the contrary, wear as little as possible, meaning, thin bike shorts and a thin short- or no-sleeved bike shirt. You'll sweat less than in normal clothes, and the sweat will evaporate faster.

Do you have a closet or any place at work where you can leave a gym bag which would contain a few towels, deodorant, as well as perhaps a few clean shirts and pants?

I see you're in Texas, and I know it's hot there, but wearing bike clothes instead of normal clothes will seriously decrease the sweat factor.
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Old 01-16-07, 01:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SHaterius
What kind of bikes do people usually use as a commuter?
I've had a variety. Its the best bike suited for the job.

One time I had a 7 mile commute, five miles of which were through a nature preserve. For that a mountain bike was the natural choice. Another time I had a 17 mile commute up steep canyons with long straights on the top of the mesa, for that I had a good road bike. Right now I have a 2.5 mile commute that is all hills on poorly paved streets, for that I have a 15 year old freebie mountain bike that has been modified with street slicks, fenders, lights and a rack. But overall, I've done the most mileage on an old 10 speed that I got for a load of lumber about 28 years ago. It's just right for an average 9 mile commute.
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Old 01-16-07, 01:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artkansas
It's just right for an average 9 mile commute.
Just curious--why do you say that 9 miles is an "average" commute? And is that round trip or one-way?
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Old 01-16-07, 05:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
Just curious--why do you say that 9 miles is an "average" commute? And is that round trip or one-way?
Well, in my case, I was using the one way mileage of my last commute in California. But it was a middling distance, that route didn't have any major hills. So it was short enough that a standard 10 speed was more than adequate. That particular 10 speed has seen all different commutes, when I was young, I'd do 5 miles to work, 10 miles to school and then 15 miles home for a commute, other times it was a 3 mile commute into downtown L.A. So, I basically just took one middling commute as my example.
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Old 01-16-07, 07:55 PM   #13
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i ride ~7 miles each way. and i ride a mountain bike (the busy streets and construction would be a nightmare on a road bike). with the mountain bike- sidewalks, bad pavement, curbs, medians, etc are all fair game.

luckily for me- and you may want to look into it- there is a gym within a mile of work. so i bike in early- shower there after swimming or weights and then do the final transition into a tie and starched shirt at work.

if you get your shirts laundered- have them boxed instead of on a hanger. more easily stored at work or in a backpack.

all previous posts are absolutely correct- it'll take some time to find out the details like: where in the chain of events to hide your toothbrush (work) or that an electric razor is much more conducive to the morning routine than a blade (less paraphenalia and time)...

but when you get it down- it truly is a great thing. there's nothing like looking forward to your ride home- or walking in the house ENERGIZED as oppossed to grumpy, dead and worn out.

another possible advantage is getting home BEFORE you would if you drove (my favorite)
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