Saturday, January 31, 2009

Work Clothes

One of the issues many bike commuters come across is what to do with those pesky work clothes. You don't want to wear them to work for fear of wrinkling them or worse getting them all sweaty, you don't know where to put them on the ride in, and you may not know where to store your clothes at work. Trust me we have all been here, and most of us have found an effective method that works for our specific situation, hopefully we can help you do the same.

If it is impossible, as it usually is, to wear your work clothes during your commute then you must first figure out what you will wear during the commute and how your work clothes will manage to get to work; not to mention that you have to find a way to get into them. Managing all this may seem hard, but really it just takes careful planning and a little research.

First things first, you should figure out if you have the ability to change/shower at work. Personally I don't have the opportunity to shower at work, though I can and do change in the locker room. Since I don't have the ability to shower, and since I have an infant and a toddler at home, I keep baby wipes in my locker to wipe the sweat away and freshen up; I tend to wait around for four to five minutes until I stop sweating and begin cooling down. Also I find it helpful to keep deodorant and body spray in my locker.

Saying that you have the ability to change at work, you should then find out if you have sufficient space to store your change of clothes, including shoes. As mentioned above I have a personal locker at work, and I keep my clothes there. Some people actually keep their clothes in their desk or file cabinet, I have even heard of someone storing their shoes in the empty freezer of the break room--though I don't recommend that. If you don't have some sort of storage readily available go to your employer and mention that you are a bike commuter and ask if they would be willing to help you and any other bike commuters out by allocating a locker type area.

Saying that you have taken care of those things the next task is figuring out how we are to get our work clothes to work. The method that I have found most effective is to load up my bike on the first work day of the week with enough clothes to make it through the week, which by the way I only take one to two pairs of pants and four shirts(I work four 12 hour days). I use Wald rear folding baskets and reusable shopping bags to transport my clothes to and from. On the second day I take a set of clothes home and again on the last day of the work week.

Though this method is what works for me there are other methods. I know some bike commuters that actually drive to work on Monday and Friday, then ride the middle of the week. Another variation of this is to drive into work Monday morning, carrying your bike with you, along with your clothes and other things. Then ride home from work Monday evening, then to and from Tuesday through Thursday, finishing by riding into work on Friday morning and driving home that evening. With that method you give yourself the option of only needing to drive the car twice per week and the option to carry all your stuff in one big load.

Once you work the kinks out, deciding what to do with your work clothes just becomes another part of the routine. Another note, if you don't have a rear rack on your bike, you can opt to use a backpack and store your change of clothes in there, almost like a portable locker. The only problem I have with using a backpack is that it makes my back very sweaty and on longer rides it becomes very uncomfortable. Don't let that discourage you though, I used a backpack for three months before switching to the rear rack.

Hope this helps!



Doohickie said...

You beat me to the punch! I was thinking of doing a post like this.

I carry everything except that I leave a towel and washcloth at work. I use them several times before changing it out. If they dry out thoroughly they are fine to reuse. Also at work I leave baby powder and foot powder, deodorant and a comb. Upon getting to work, I take a "baby powder shower" and change into my work clothes.

On my bike, in panniers, I carry a change of clothes, my lunch, and if I think I might need anything extra for the ride home if there's colder weather forecast for the afternoon. If you've never used panniers, it is amazing how much you can carry in them.

Steve A said...

Y'all sound complicated to me. I pick the lousiest weather day of the week, drive in with all the clean laundry & take the dirty laundry home. Around Tarrant County, there's usually one day that it's extra cold, or hot, or having an electrical storm anyway.

That cuts out all the panniers & such, leaving me to take a handlebar bag on occasions that it's much hotter in the afternoon than it was in the morning.