Thursday, September 18, 2014

Taking the lane: Wearing What Works

Commuting rules my wardrobe. There are several ways to deal with the “what to wear on the ride to work” dilemma. You may be one who likes to leave clothes at work to change into. Others take clothes with them. (you had best not forget your shoes or bra) In these cases you can commute in kit or whatever you're comfortable riding in. There are even special suit panniers for keeping your clothes looking fresh and wrinkle-free. Some of us, however, can't or don't want to change when we get to work. Telephone booths are no longer available (what would Clark Kent do?) and restrooms are not always an option. I don't like having to slink past receptionists looking for a place to change for maybe only a one hour job after which I have to change back, repeated several times a day. In the face of these options, commuting in my work clothes is the best choice. So what to do to arrive in a presentable state? This varies depending on the time of year, but there are some some things that are constant.
zip-open pleat
The first being sweat. Pack a tiny towel. Summer, winter, it doesn't matter. If you are putting on some speed or have hills, or any kind of distance, you're going to get a little, or a lot, sweaty. Wicking fabrics are a big help, especially in winter, as you don't want damp fabrics next to your body to chill you. It's actually a big deal in Summer too, with air conditioning turned down so low you always need a long sleeved shirt or even a light sweater or jacket to put on over your first layer, after you've cooled down. Also, prints show sweat less than solids. I wear light weight fabrics that dry quickly in summer, and try to avoid very light pant colors too. There's just too much bike grease and dirt out there to stay looking clean. Of course you want to wear something that gives you good freedom of movement. Avoid anything that constricts movement, or gets caught in your chain or spokes. If wearing wider pant legs, you'll want to roll up your right leg, or use a pedal strap. If very wide, use on both legs. I've never had much luck with skirts, as they always work their way up my thighs unless I clip a weight on, or get damaged in my spokes if very full. Some people do manage to do this well, but I haven't figured it out to my liking. 
reflective side seam
Be aware that if you commute a lot, you may wear out the seat of your pants. I've worn the fuzz off of the back side of at least one pair of corduroys that I live in in the winter. I wear them a lot as they are warmer and I don't like to wear long underwear (too hot indoors). If it's very cold I wear windpants over the top. As far as wear and tear, you may  have to launder those sweaty clothes more. Don't think that you won't be sweating in cooler weather. One of the the biggest mistakes people make in cool and cold weather commuting is over dressing. (Exception: hands) Remember the mantra- dress for 10-15 minutes into your ride. Wear breathable layers and a lighter weight jacket. Few things feel so awful on the bike as being overheated and sweaty in the winter. It's nothing like how you might dress to go on a walk. You might feel a little cool to start out, but it won't last long if you're working up a sweat. Finally, there is more bicycle specific clothing being developed all the time. Pants with reflective seams to seen be rolled up, skirts with zip open pleats, more stretch. I've even worn chamois liners under my pants when I've known I was going to have an especially long day on the bike.
                                                                                                 reflective plaid
So whether you take a change of clothes, keep them at work, or wear them, find a solution that works for you. Don't let clothes keep you from commuting in all weather. There's always a way to make them work for you if you work at it.

1 comment:

  1. I have two skirts with the zip open pleat. They're great. Well worth the cost.