Bike commuting forces fashion dilemmas

Scripps News:

When the weather is favorable, Terry Plowman can get from home to his downtown Pittsburgh job in about 45 minutes.

Not by car or bus, but by an increasingly popular mode of commuting — bicycle. And after a quick change from his biking gear to business casual, Plowman is ready for another day of work at Verizon.

There are signs that more Pittsburghers, and Americans in general, are commuting to work on bikes, a trend fueled by warm weather, environmental concerns and the rising cost of gasoline

keep reading…

photo by Payton Chung

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0 thoughts on “Bike commuting forces fashion dilemmas”

  1. JB in the mountains says:

    I would like to see the day when commuting by bike would not be any big deal, the subject of web sites (although I enjoy reading other commuter stories!), and the person in your office that commutes by auto is the “different” one at your work. My commute is only 5 miles each way, all downhill into work and the uphill pull to go home. It actually is just as fast to get to work as it is in a car, takes me about 35 minutes to get home, pretty good elevation change, about 700 feet. With my downhill commute in, I can wear the clothes I work in and then change to go home because I get sweaty on the pull home. I also carry workout stuff for my lunchtime workout so it all works out.

  2. Dan says:

    I commute 20 km to work. Carpooling takes about 40 minutes, the bus takes about 50 minutes, and the bike takes about 50 minutes. If I take my bike, I can leave whenever I want to and I never have to do any cardio exercise to stay in shape.

    Like JB says, I cannot wait for the day when “cycling to work” will not be the strange thing to do. Even people who live 5 km from my work take their car to get here, I do not understand. At $1.36 / litre ($5.15 / gallon), why are they not cycling?

  3. john t says:

    I bike to work in the clothes I will wear for work. For me, it is my company issued uniform. The pants are black, so I never have to worry about chain grease. I use elastic bands around the pants legs.

    I have a moderatly physical job, and sweat is present whether I ride to work or go by some other method. I just get off the bike, take off my helmet and leg bands, and I am ready to work. In the winter, I have a jacket to take off too.

    It is really no delimma at all.

  4. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    I love it when I see new commuter cyclist. It reminds me of how fun it was back then. The other day I made my self sick just thinking about what it would be like to return to that awful life style of living in a steel box. For me my 9 mile, 35 minute commute I have to wear bike short and open sandles, I get way to sweaty… then I change at work.

  5. matthew booth says:

    I bike about 24 miles round trip with lots of hills. In the morning I wear shorts and some sort of jacket, but have to remove the jacket about half way. The way home is a lot of up-hill and gets hot so definitely no jacket.

    To my surprise I got some sort of fungal infection from the work shower.

    Lessons learned:
    Even if you dont have to change you should bring extra undergarments that aren’t sweat-soaked. Change into dry clothes after your commute and wear sandals in public showers. I like to use baby powder after showering to increase dryness in “problem” areas of the body.

    If you can’t keep clothes at work (I can’t) Nashbar sells a garment Pannier thats supposed to keep clothes somewhat wrinkle free. I havent tried it yet, but Im going to buy soon.

    Any one have advice on bike shorts? I have been told wearing regular shorts can cause problems because the material is loose and can bunch-up in the groin area and cause increase chafing and discomfort.

    I’m still a little embarrassed about the though of wearing body hugging material.

  6. jason (sd) says:

    I have worn jeans up to 20 miles, with no chafing, had to work up to that though. My option for non spandex commutes would be mountain bike shorts. I think you can get padded or not. Mine have never bunched-up.
    I typically wear what I wear for work. Jeans and a dress shirt. With this hot weather I am trying some thinner dress slacks.

  7. Dan says:

    @ Matthew

    This is just my opinion but I don’t think that you will have problems with chafing on a 12 mile commute. Long-distance cyclists probably have more of a problem with this. I plan on buying a safety reflective vest and a cycling rain jacket long before I invest in special shorts.

    Other more experienced cyclists might have a different view.

  8. matthew booth says:

    I dont know how much of this is a factor but I have hairy thick/chubby legs, so chafing has always been a problem, even with walking for extended periods of time… its usually the moisture that does it. Maybe I can build up some thicker skin… Im still new to this commuting thing.

    Thanks for the feedback so far though!

  9. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    In hot weather, even short 2 mile rides to the store, I wear padded spandex. I do wear a lite pair of shorts over the spandex. In cooler weather I sometimes ride upto 50 miles in jeans with little problems. Over all, I love padded spandex bike shorts. I should point out, I started bicycling three years ago or ~14,000 miles of car-free bliss. I also carry rain gear and a reflective vest in my panniers on my main bike.
    I don’t know if I am stylish I am, but I love it the way some women smile at me…

  10. Stephen in Salt Lake City says:

    I’ve been riding to work for about a year now and am lucky enough to live 2 miles from a light rail station. I ride down hill to the station, board the train for an 8 mile ride, then have a short .5 mile ride to the office. I do this in work clothes – no sweat;-)

    I mix the ride up in the evening, taking routes that range between 10 and 15 miles. I broke the 30 minute barrier today on the return ride, which means that my commute is officially faster on my bike! On a related note, I just sold my A4!

    Winter commuting was easier than I expected in in SLC. A good pair of tights, gloves, goggles, lights and toe warmers is all it takes.

  11. Stuart M. says:

    I regulary bike-commute to the different schools I go to teach at. Somedays I have to wear a suit, somedays casual is okay. I have a European style bike with a chain guard, but my pants still get dirty. They keep touching the sides of the rear tire while I am spinning.

    I usually wear casual pants on the ride and switch to fancy pants when I arrive at the schools. I have to tuck my casual pants into the tops of my socks to avoid getting them dirty, but this sure looks dorky! I need those skirtguards that Dutch-style bikes all have. Where I live (Japan), no one has ever heard of pants-clips. Can’t get them here.

    Some of my commutes go about 10 miles one-way and I can get a bit sweaty. But I wear cotton undershirts/underwear which seem to absorb sweat well without making me stinky.

    I wish knickerbocker suits would make a come-back. Then one could advertise that one is a bicyclist and still wear a suit. I have searched the Internet far and wide for knickerbocker suits, but there are only knickers for women and countless entries in historical “the way we were” websites. A market opportunity?

  12. jamesmallon says:

    Two ideas:

    Merino undershorts eleminate chafing, dry quickly, are not as warm as you’d think, and don’t funk-up like most else.

    Vaude makes a pant’s saver with more coverage than a strap. Either that, or make your own.

  13. Juan says:

    My commute is 37 round trip, so I wear real bicycle clothes. I have a rack and trunk that I use to bring my regular clothes into work….no sweaty back pack for me. I’m lucky enough to wear shorts and T-shirts at work, but I’d rather not wear them while riding.

  14. Paul says:

    Chafing? Spandex? How fast are you guys riding?

  15. bikeman says:

    Look around at the options available for bike shorts. Summertime, I wear baggy shorts with a chamois, I don’t get as many stares at work as I do with regular spandex bike shorts. Wintertime, I wear Patagonia expedition weight capilene pants, they are not as tight as spandex, and much warmer, they keep me warm down to 30 degrees.
    For shirts, any sort of quick dry t-shirt works, they can be purchased at Target, etc.
    I change at work into dry clothes.As long as I have showered prior to leaving the house, I am reasonably dry a few minutes after my arrival at work.

  16. Paul says:

    It gets hot in Europe as well.

    I commute every day and yes, on a hot day I do sweat, but there are some things you can do to keep cool:

    1. Ride in an upright position. If your leaning forward your shirt will stick to you back.

    2. Get a big front basket where you can put your jacket or even trousers without getting them wrinkled.

    3. ride slow.

    4. Avoid pack packs

    5. If you ride slow and carefully you wont need a helmet either.

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