Summer Geek Gear

Summer heat has finally come to Chicago. Although fresh summer cycling is possible, especially if I ride super slowly, with temperatures in the 80’s F, riding in gym clothes is now easier than riding in work clothes. This week I traded my chic suits and tweed skirts for geeky bike commuter gear.

I described my full “LGRAB team kit” last year and this summer it’s pretty much the same, albeit with new sunglasses (am I the only one who always loses sunglasses?).

When I arrive at work, I pop into the ladies room and freshen up with an Action Wipe before putting on my work clothes.

But – oops! On Wednesday I totally forgot to carry a change of work clothes with me! I rifled through my office and unearthed a wrinkled blouse and skirt that had been waiting for a trip to the dry cleaners. Crisis averted, although I looked like a ragamuffin all day.

Getting into the routine of packing extra clothes will require an adjustment period. :)

Has anyone else changed their bike commuting routine for the summer (or winter, for Aussies out there)?

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32 thoughts on “Summer Geek Gear

  1. Elisa M says:

    I bring a change of clothes (we are already in the high 90’s with daily heat advisories!) as well as a blow dryer and towel to dry off with. More often than not I end up with my hair up. My biggest issue is that I can’t stop sweating for about 20 min after I arrive, so I end up hanging out in the bathroom in my undies for a while! that was probably TMI, but it is true. :)

  2. Megan says:

    One more suggestion for freshening up: facial toner. I keep a bottle of toner at the office and pour some on a cloth or paper towel. It helps to clean off the oil and grit from my face and neck, and the alcohol cools my skin without drying it out. I’m partial to Burt’s Bees rosewater toner for “aging and sensitive skin” :-) because it seems to have the lowest alcohol content.

    • Yvann says:

      Megan, you should be able to get alcohol free toner from Lush? I’m pretty sure Lush is in the US? Anyway it’s what I use and it’s all natural.

  3. Yvann says:

    I cycle in London, on the main roads, so I have to cycle like a demon – I cycle 8 miles in an hour – sounds really slow but it’s because of all the traffic lights. Thus, unsurprisingly, I arrive at work sweaty and in *need* of a shower – so it’s handy that work has good showers! When working at places without a shower (I go around to different companies every few weeks) I don’t cycle – I just can’t manage to cycle slowly enough on the roads not to sweat, even in winter!

  4. Flora says:

    Yesterday for the first time I put on a t-shirt and cutoff gym pants to commute in, and packed my work clothes in my panniers. I wasn’t super-sweaty by the time I arrived, but it was still nice to be able to put on fresh clothes. I hung my t-shirt and gym pants over my office furniture to dry. Really not that painful at all.

  5. JenniferD says:

    Northern California is still chilly and a bit rainy so we’re not there yet. But once summer hits, I won’t change my clothes, I’ll still wear businessy type outfits but I do ride slower to avoid sweating. Last year I tracked my seasonal speed difference using an iPhone app. During the winter I typically ride 10-15 mph but 7-10 mph in the summer. We get hot here, 90’s and 100’s but don’t have humidity – which makes all the difference!

  6. Dwayne says:

    Keep extra clothes at your office just in case. Not only for the days when you forget to bring clothes after the ride, but for a lunch mishap, or copier toner mishap, or whatever.

  7. Lauren says:

    i am SO glad you posted this!! i had to put my commute on hold this week because of the crazy heat – mid-to-high 90s with some kind of ungodly humidity :( i know i’m gonna have an issue if the weather section of my paper just advertises the day as “HOT” haha.

    i was wondering if it was even worth it to commute in that kind of weather. my ride into work isn’t so bad – i have to be here at 830, and while i get hot, it’s still in the high 70s/low 80s that early. but 5pm rolls around and yeesh! sweat city! and like you, i sweat a lot a lot a lot. i do try to ride slower but riding through downtown during rush hour is scary :( i end up hauling ass up some of the bigger hills because i feel like the cars are going to get frustrated & run me over. ugh!

    the only solution i’ve found thus far is in regards to my hair – i set it in pin curls the night before. this keeps the hair off my neck, keeps it from getting all windy/sweaty, and when i get to work & cool off a bit, i let it down & i have pretty curls :) but the whole not-sitting-in-a-puddle-of-sweat-for-the-first-hour-of-the-workday thing has still been a bit of a challenge.

    anyway, i’m rambling & not making much of a point. thanks so much for posting this, though – the links have been super helpful. time for me to suck it up v2.0 & ride in the heat again :) it can’t be that much worse than sitting in my un-airconditioned truck & baking at the stop lights… right?

  8. Miss Sarah says:

    Ah, I work at home and have a creative job so I can wear whatever I want! Mwhahaha:)

    Don keeps a wardrobe at his office, with 2-3 of everything. He likes to ride FAST.

  9. Dave says:

    Heh, I haven’t bought sunglasses in about 10 years, simply because the previous three pairs I bought were all gone in about a month. I’ve found a wide-brimmed hat like a fedora to be enough to shade my eyes while riding so far.

    I definitely change my wardrobe in the summer, and I want to play with some different under-shirts this summer (thin wool t-shirts under button-up shirts). I also want to get a linen shirt or two, and see how they do in the heat.

    I usually find I can get *to* work without any issues, as it’s still cool enough in the morning that I don’t get sweaty – *from* work is another issue, but I often stop partway and get a cold drink and cool down a little, and when it’s that warm out, I would be sweating just sitting still anyway (and often am all day at work), so it’s not like riding a bike is much of a change in that regard. I can just wipe down and dry off when I get home and it’s all good.

    However, up until today, it’s still been about 65 and rainy in Portland, so I haven’t even thought about this yet, until I saw your post :)

  10. I tried cycling to work in gym clothes once last summer. On my way there I saw a colleague coming out of a cafe with a group of government people… with whom we had a meeting scheduled later in the day. They were all wearing crisp suits and I was mortified that they would see me in the state I was in; it would not have been the professional introduction I had in mind.

    So… ever since then I cycled to work in my regular clothes, because I realised that I need to always look professional if there is a chance of running into colleagues. When it’s super hot and humid, I wear clothing with busy patterns, which hides sweat stains. I do carry wipes with me, though just cheap ones for babies and not Action Wipes. I also wear lots of silk and linen and light summer wool and try to avoid cotton. Here’s me cycling in a silk dress to a meeting in 90F+ heat!

    • Dottie says:

      Oh yeah, that’s awkward. I can see why you want to look professional at all times during the work week. In the mornings I slip in the back door of my building and head straight upstairs to my office, which is next to the ladies room, but some days inevitably I encounter someone in the parking lot whom I’m embarrassed to be sweaty and tank-topped in front of (like a VP or a priest!).

      The office of my previous job was in a sky-scraper with so many offices in it, I very rarely encountered anyone from my firm during the trip through security and the elevator banks. When I got to my floor, I slipped through a rear door with my key card to avoid reception. But once, when I first started bike commuting, I was waiting for the elevator in the lobby – a sweaty mess in bright blue short shorts and a neon pink shirt – when the elevator opened to reveal two partners from my firm. I was mortified, but then they looked right at me and walked by. Their eyes did not register at all and I realized that they did not recognize me in that goofy get-up, since they only ever saw me in suits! Maybe I flitted across their radars as a bike messenger, since the building has a lot of those. :)

      (p.s. I need more patterned silk dresses! That’s so pretty!)

  11. David says:

    I forgot a change of underwear today. Although we have a shower room in the office, so I’m refreshed, just going commando……..

  12. Sue says:

    My morning commute is only 3.25 miles and it’s usually cooler in the morning, so my attire has changed much yet. There was only one day where I decided to forego the dress and ride in casual, comfy clothes and change once I arrived at work. I keep wipes and other items in the gym locker room at work to freshen up and we have showers as well. I think if I had to wear suits everyday, in hot weather, I’d probably be singing a different tune and would keep the suits in the office and wear comfortable clothes for riding.

  13. Monica says:

    I have an enormous number of facewashers (flannels I think some call them?) and I throw in a plastic bag, 2 facewashers, hand towel and a fresh shirt and knickers into my backpack. My work stash includes deodorant, fresh face powder and a brush (to take the shine off if I need to) and a bunch of baby wipes. I tend to wear my “bum cushion pants” (mountain biking shorts with a little butt cushion built in) under my skirt or I change into the skirt/workpants also when I get there. When I arrive, yes, I need a little time to stop sweating, so hanging in cool tiled bathrooms is a good idea.

    So I break out the baby wipes and wipe down sweaty bits, chuck them once they’re used, wet up one facewasher and wash again, and dry off with the 2nd facewasher (just like a tiny tiny towel!) I throw all the facewashers into the placky bag to take home to wash, change into my fresh shirt, ditch the sweaty bike pants and knickers and change into the nice dry fresh undies then too.

    Basically the idea is to carry as little as possible, because a whole outfit change takes up a fair bit of room, but a spare shirt, 2 facewashers and clean knickers don’t take up much room at all. Hooray!

    Also… only found you recently, best blog ever! :) xxx

  14. Steve A says:

    From now until the fall, I will probably only rarely commute to work in work clothes for precisely the reason that Lovely Bicycle prefers riding in work clothes – I want anyone that sees me riding to work and then later sees me AT work to immediately register that I did cleanup action in between.

    I keep an extra set of work clothes at work to guard against either forgetfulness or a torrential event that makes what I’ve brought unusable.

  15. Amy says:

    See, my summer commuting is totally opposite. I’m going to get dirty AT work. No avoiding that. But I prefer to be cleaner for the commute to and from. So once it gets really hot (in the upper 90’s) I start wearing linen sundresses and such and then changing into grungy work (gym shorts, tank tops) clothes once I arrive. Then before leaving I take a “bird bath” and change back into my dress. The transition that always feels weird to me is feeling like I’m not bringing enough with me during the summer. There is just so much I need to make sure I have with me in the winter to stay warm with. Commuting in the elements and then working in the elements each require their own infrastructure.

    • Dottie says:

      “Bird bath” – I love that! That’s such a cute way to describe the process, much better than the awkward “freshening up.” I’m going to start using that when people ask how I manage in the summer.

      I also love that you clean up and change into a linen dress for your bike commute. :)

  16. Emma says:

    My commute is only 2.5 miles by bike so I just take it easy on the way in and I can get there in 15 minutes. If I were to walk to work it would take me about 35-40 minutes and I would get much more sweaty than I would cycling. Public transport here isn’t fantastic and to be honest it’s quite expensive for such a short journey so I begrudge paying it, plus it it takes exactly the same amount of time by bus and bike so I know what I’d rather do!

    To be honest, I never wore my work clothes whilst cycling and would always change at work, until I found your blog that is. Now I always cycle in my work clothes and have a pair of sweet old-man bicycle clips for my trousers!

  17. Yep–no more cute skirts to work for me. I’ll be wearing shorts for a majority of my rides, particularly once it warms up even more in NYC. For now I’m doing the wipe-thing too, but we do have a shower in the office, which I’m thinking will come in handy soon! Stay cool!

  18. Maureen says:

    Great tips as always. My two biggest problems are my hair becoming a fly away mess in humidity, and also that I perspire from my face – so then my face will be very red, and sensitive.

  19. Krista says:

    My commute is only 2.5 miles too so I don’t get too sweaty. That being said, I don’t really have a bike-riding wardrobe yet so I’m definitely still doing the sports pants and t-shirts, and then when I get to the office, I change into a dress. I definitely want to invest in some thin bike shorts to wear under my dresses though so I can ride to work and look cute at the same time!

  20. anniebikes says:

    I am a baby powder girl. Because my commute is 11 miles each way, I always ride in alternative gear and change in the bathroom. My boss compliments me on my nice smell – I know she doesn’t mean the sweaty aroma either, at least I don’t think she does.

    When it gets downright hot or humid I take a shower. This is one advantage to working in my bosses’ home.

  21. Trisha says:

    I hate the hassle of bringing extra clothes, so I ride in, slowly, before 8 (eventually; there are usually a couple of painfully hot and sweaty commutes at around 8:30 to prove the need for such desperate measures). Evening commutes can be steamy, but I don’t really care if I look gross when I get home. I can jump right in the shower or pool. And if I ride to a happy hour afterward it’s generally a short enough distance away that I don’t get too, um, shiny. Otherwise I just try to embrace the shiny glow!

  22. Nikki says:

    Thanks for the tips! My ride to work is 8 miles (each way) and its mostly up hill on the way there. I change, rinse off, and reapply deodorant in the bathroom but I have been looking for something like those action wipes!

  23. [...] Posted on June 14, 2011 by Jessica Cassity A couple of weeks ago I was reading a post on Let’s Go Ride a Bike about riding in warm weather. Specifically, what to wear to cycle to work when the heat it’s [...]

  24. [...] I’ve mentioned before, Chicago summers can be brutally hot.  At least for a few weeks.  Long enough to make me [...]

  25. cycler says:

    Your story of forgotten clothes is EXACTLY why I don’t try to change at work. The worst was forgetting all my undergarments, and having to hang out in the office in my cycling clothes until the Gap nearby opened, buying new things, and only then being able to change.
    I have a giant pump bottle of purell in the office bath for use when I need a little refreshing, and that seems to do the trick.

    I also lose sunglasses like crazy, so I only buy cheap ones. I find a pair I like from H&M every year and buy three sets so that I’m good through the fall.

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