Bicycle Commuting Series – Chapter 1
What to Wear for Your Bicycle Commute
In preparation for Carson City’s Bike to Work Week, I’d like to begin a series on Bicycle Commuting. The target audience for this series will the beginning bicycle commuter, riding round trip distances of 1 – 12 miles. Bicycle commuting in Carson City is actually quite easy, but if you’ve never done it before, you may have questions or misconceptions on what riding to work is all about.
Thanks to cycling celebrities like Lance Armstrong and racing coverage on TV, many people associate bicycling with tight spandex skin suits in an array of obnoxious color combinations. This type of clothing is at home on the race course or for use in high performance riding, but certainly not needed for bicycle commuting. Bicycle commutes around town tend to be of a short duration and ridden at a casual pace, so springtime casual street clothes or office wear work fine.
The above picture is of me before a recent morning commute. Temperatures were in the low 40’s, with winds from the SW at 10 mph. I wore jeans, long sleeved work shirt, windbreaker, wind gloves, light wool hat, helmet, and sunglasses. Not only was I plenty warm, but I was already dressed for work, wearing clothes that I’d feel comfortable visiting a local business in. You’ll also notice the Velcro strap on my right pant leg. This keeps my pants clean and away from the teeth on the chain ring.
Since I don’t like to carry everything I’ll need for the day on my back, I keep some items at work. Some of the items I store at work are a jacket (for going to meetings or cold office temperatures), office shoes (office shoes are not always the best bicycling shoes), and a few articles of clothing to protect me from the elements should the weather change drastically. It may take a couple weeks, but eventually you’ll learn what you need to carry with you, and what’s more convenient to stash at the office.
Another misconception is that riding a bicycle to work will make you sweaty and stinky. As long as you don’t overdress and keep a moderate pace, you can keep your body heat at a normal temperature. I usually slow way down on my last quarter mile stretch. This gives me a chance to cool down a bit and slow my breathing. If I do perspire a bit, I’ll freshen up with a damp paper towel. I’ve heard that some people like to use baby wipes too. Perspiration is usually due to the fact that I’m having too much fun and racing around!
Dressing for your bicycle commute does not need to be a humiliating experience. There are some companies that are exploiting this fear to keep you driving like State Farm Insurance or Farmer’s Insurance! Don’t listen to them. Dress normally, comfortably, and have a good time!
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