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olenka
12-06-2010, 10:00 AM
Hi all,
I'd like to start riding my bike to work (about 8-9 miles; from Takoma Park to Union Station) but I can't bear the thought of bringing my work clothes to the office ahead of time, and folding them in a backpack isn't ultra appealing either. Does anybody else do a 8-10 mile commute in their work clothes? For me, work clothes means business casual; often on the casual side. Any tips on how to make this work, especially in the winter, when dress shoes, tights, and a skirt isn't going to cut it, warmth-wise?
I am aiming to get a rack with panniers on my bike in the next couple of weeks, so I will be able to trek some stuff around with me. I just want to keep it simple if possible.
Thanks for any advice!

Just161
12-06-2010, 12:02 PM
I used to commute 9-10 miles each way... I could do it in work clothes on the shoulder seasons and in winter on a more limited basis, but most of the time I preferred riding in non-work clothes. It just gets too hot in the summer! Especially if you have any uphills. I would suggest trying to carry clothes in your panniers (non-iron or wrinkle-free is helpful), and try to keep as much work stuff at work (like shoes). You don't have to carry one set each day - leave some one day, pick 'em up later, etc. On days you don't bike, use the commute to transfer clothes to or from work. Do dry cleaning near work rather than home. Oh, and keep some spare clothes at the office just in case the system goes awry sometimes!

Or, since you end at Union Station, try the BikeStation there!

Good luck.

Dirt
12-06-2010, 12:26 PM
I'm rarely in a presentable state at any time, but I'm really not fit to be seen or work after an 8-mile ride in work clothes. Not sure how I'd do it if I didn't have locker space at the office to store all my work clothes. I'd probably cart them back and forth every day. The key to leaving stuff at work is having a good cleaner near the office. I drop off a bag of clothes on Fridays and pick them up on Monday afternoon.

Joe Chapline
12-06-2010, 12:44 PM
If you do decide to ride in work pants, be aware that you will occasionally get oil from the road on the cuffs, and it doesn't come out. (At least I don't know how to get it out.) Bike commuting in work clothes has limited my wardrobe -- I wear machine-washable pants that are inexpensive enough that I can afford some attrition. Work shoes can be left at work or carried (they don't wrinkle). Sweatpants under a skirt seems technically possible, but you might be the first to try it. You should have fenders on your bike, or none of your clothes are safe.

baiskeli
12-06-2010, 01:18 PM
Hi all,
I'd like to start riding my bike to work (about 8-9 miles; from Takoma Park to Union Station) but I can't bear the thought of bringing my work clothes to the office ahead of time, and folding them in a backpack isn't ultra appealing either. Does anybody else do a 8-10 mile commute in their work clothes? For me, work clothes means business casual; often on the casual side. Any tips on how to make this work, especially in the winter, when dress shoes, tights, and a skirt isn't going to cut it, warmth-wise?
I am aiming to get a rack with panniers on my bike in the next couple of weeks, so I will be able to trek some stuff around with me. I just want to keep it simple if possible.
Thanks for any advice!

Keeping it simple is a good idea. I have tried biking about 8 miles in work clothes, and I found it uncomfortable. Maybe you could do it in just some of the clothes and then change. Though I bring my work clothes in and change (which is really not a big deal) I ride in my work shoes, which are just casual enough.

I did find that I didn't need a shower except in the really hot summer months, but I had mostly a downhill ride.

Tim Kelley
12-06-2010, 01:22 PM
Another alternative to a backpack would be a garment/suit bag that fits into your pannier rack. No folding needed! Try googling "suit bag pannier" for options.

You probably wouldn't even have to worry about a change of clothes in the cooler fall and winter months. But during the warm summer months, even early in the morning, you will definitely work up a sweat.

Joe Chapline
12-06-2010, 08:36 PM
I've been looking for an opportunity to mention this for a while; I'm going to shoehorn it in here: The acceptance of more casual business attire over the last decade or so has really contributed to the increase in bike commuting. It's a chicken-and-egg situation, it could be that the increased interest in physical activity required the change in the business dress code. It used to be that office workers were required to dress in a way that made it impractical to do anything physical, or even be outside of a car or building for more than a few minutes for most of the year. (If you know what a "shoehorn" is, you may remember.)

OneEighth
12-06-2010, 08:57 PM
I ride to work year-round and wear a suit pretty much every day. Keep shoes and belts (and extra shorts and socks) in the office, switch to French cuff shirts with heavy starch, and ROLL your suits. It's that simple. Trust me, before I started bicycling to work, I rode a motorcycle year-round and had to cram lunch plus suit plus construction-worker thermos into a tank bag that was much smaller than my current bike backpack. If you roll rather than fold the suit, it reduces the wrinkles. And, if you collar, pocket, and cuffs are stiff and flat, the shirt will look professional.
All of this assumes, of course, that you have shower facilities nearby...
Tom

Chris Eatough
12-07-2010, 07:08 AM
Joe.
Try Simple Green cleaner for grease marks on your clothing. The original green formula. You can find it at hardware stores or even grocery stores. Spray some onto the grease spot and scrub with a clean rag. It will cut the grease and not harm your clothing. It's also a great drivetrain cleaner.

mhuizenga
12-07-2010, 08:28 AM
So, I'm going out on a limb here since I work at home and don't bike to work. However, I have traveled significantly and here is one key I have found for wrinkles which will work for paniers or a back pack. Use dry cleaning bags over the clothes and roll or fold them in the bags. It reduces the wrinkles amazingly. I agree with OneEigth on the rolling thing. It reduces wrinkles and it takes up less room. But the bag will reduce the wrinkles even more and you already have them since they come with the dry cleaning! good luck on your ride.

SWrider
12-07-2010, 09:51 AM
I do my commute in my work clothes year-round. Here are my winter tips:

- When wearing a skirt and stockings, put on knee-high leg warmers over the stockings. You can take off the leg warmers when you get to work if they don't 100% go with your outfit.
- Also to go with skirts - get a pair of knee-high boots if you don't have them already. Ideally a pair with a lining that will keep you warm.
- Get some heavier wool skirts.
- Wear pants as much as possible. You can wear tights under the pants and if your office is anything like mine, it won't be too hot to keep them on all day.
- Obviously gloves and a scarf are a MUST. In order to prevent your hair from getting messed up, ear coverings combined with a scarf + helmet is enough, I never wear a full hat or mask.

Joe Chapline
12-07-2010, 02:38 PM
In order to prevent your hair from getting messed up, ear coverings combined with a scarf + helmet is enough, I never wear a full hat or mask.

I'm posting another plug for 180s ear coverings. They're ear muffs that fit around the back of your neck and don't interfere with your bike helmet.

mamaonabike
12-07-2010, 03:46 PM
I'm an advocate for fun solutions so leg warmers...yes! Knee high boots...yes! I would also advocate for fun colorful knee high socks to add a touch of color to a drab winter wardrobe if you're not wearing the boots that day.

Layering is an obvious solution, as is wool. There are really lovely light wool base layer shirts in most any boutique shop. When I need to, I layer those to add color, interest and warmth. The one sort of drab thing I do is use a pair of black wind resistant long-john style tights from my snowboarding days as a base layer under dress pants and skirts, too. I can even wear them over hose for an additional layer and then take the tights off once I arrive to work. Or, pack the hose and switch to them once you arrive.

For low cost solutions, if that's an issue, I once bought a pack of 6 thick wool knee high socks from a military supply store for a couple bucks, cut the feet off and now I use them as ankle warmers (put them between your cuffed leg bottom and your shoe top), calf warmers (under my pants) or wrist warmers (extra layer between the end of my glove and my jacket). Basically anywhere that the layers tend to pull apart from each other and let wind in. I love taking the colorful knee socks I mentioned above, cutting the feet out and using them as sleeves to add color, too. And, all those feet you cut out? Save them and layer in your boots to keep your toes cozy!

I've found that very light material scarves work better on your neck and chin because they allow you to breathe and don't cause you to sweat much. And, you guessed it, they add color! You can find them at accessory stores and they're prettier and more fun than highly technical pieces. And you know those super cheap dollar gloves you see at the checkout stand of places like Walgreen's? Perfect to layer under technical gloves. I keep those around my house the way I do lip balms. You can never have too many.

Finally, I have a thin boiled wool wrap jacket that I layer under my winter coat that adds just enough warmth without the bulk. It's quite lovely so it also acts as my nicer looking coat once at work if I have to go anywhere and don't need that extra (arguably uglier) layer.

Hope this helps!

OneEighth
12-07-2010, 05:15 PM
Honestly, I think you should just go ahead and pack the work clothes (leaving shoes and jacket in the office).
But, if you really don't want to do that, then the best suggestion I can give you is to make sure that you have a wind-blocking jacket and pants to cover your bus. casual clothes.
The other option is to look at street clothes that are made for biking, but then you are back to buying extra biking gear anyway.
Good for you, though, to be taking up riding to work.
Good luck.

Just161
12-08-2010, 08:34 AM
I do my commute in my work clothes year-round.

SWrider - how long is your commute? I'm impressed you can swing work clothes even in the summer heat.

americancyclo
12-09-2010, 11:04 AM
I'm posting another plug for 180s ear coverings. They're ear muffs that fit around the back of your neck and don't interfere with your bike helmet.

Just saw this, if y'all need some 180s for cheap
http://www.buy.com/pr/product.aspx?sku=218869046

FFX_Hinterlands
12-09-2010, 11:40 AM
I bike commute 2x week a little over 7 miles one way. In the summer I wear shorts and a T-shirt and change at work. I roll up my work pants and shirt and carry them with me. I also take a small towel (one of those bright yellow microfiber clothes that come in the 100 pack at Costco) to wipe off any sweat. I need a shower when I get home but not in the morning. As long as you're clean when you leave home you likely won't stink all day.
In the winter I wear work pants (Business Casual) and (either sneakers or casual) shoes and change shirts at work. I have a light shell that I wear over an lightweight wool long underwear top when it gets below 40. I just roll up my work shirts. It's worked so far (9 months of commuting). You will need mittens or good gloves when it gets cold. I also add some long underwear bottoms under my pants but I haven't needed to yet (lowest temp was just below freezing so far). I wear a thin beanie under my helmet and down over my ears (one that is made of mid weight long underwear material).
I don't really see the need to do the full lycra thing for 7 or 8 miles, but if some people are more comfortable that way, why not?

Joe Chapline
12-09-2010, 11:47 AM
Just saw this, if y'all need some 180s for cheap
http://www.buy.com/pr/product.aspx?sku=218869046

I've never seen them so cheap. I ordered 9 pairs. If there's nothing wrong with these, then my relatives are all getting $3 Christmas presents from me this year.

Tim Kelley
12-09-2010, 11:59 AM
I've never seen them so cheap. I ordered 9 pairs.

Buy.com is now SOLD OUT. I guess you got the last ones...and now my ears are going to be cold for the next 4 months.

Joe Chapline
12-09-2010, 12:08 PM
Buy.com is now SOLD OUT. I guess you got the last ones...and now my ears are going to be cold for the next 4 months.

I'll give you a pair when I see you.

skreaminquadz
12-09-2010, 03:07 PM
Just saw this, if y'all need some 180s for cheap
http://www.buy.com/pr/product.aspx?sku=218869046
Thanks for posting this. I use these on days I Metro into work and they're awesome.

Steve O
12-14-2010, 08:41 AM
You can also go half and half. Wear your work pants (protecting the cuffs as per Joe C.) but pack your shirt. That way you can wear a shirt you don't mind sweating a little in. Then you only need to change your shirt when you get to work, and it will be fresher. In the warmer months you may need to sponge off if you don't want to (or have) a shower. Also, keep deodorant at work.
I also found that in the warmer months if I didn't have a meeting right away, I could check emails and do some other work for 20 minutes to cool down before changing into my fresher clothes.

I kept a couple of sport coats and ties at work permanently for those occasions when I needed them.

Also, keep extra underwear in your desk at work. I learned this lesson the hard way! Definitely something you don't want to forget.

Joe Chapline
12-14-2010, 08:58 AM
I've never had that much trouble commuting in work clothes in the summer, because I leave for work in the early morning, and it's almost never really hot. (There were some exceptions last summer.) I may be soaked in sweat when I get home in the evening, but so what? I'm at home. But my commute is only a couple of miles through the city, and I'm not setting any speed records.