Tag Archives: bike commuting in summer

Take the Long Way Home

Am I the only one who hears the Supertramp song in my head based on the post title? I blame my dad.

Today I did indeed take the long way home. Normally my commute route is a major diagonal street (Lincoln Ave, for the locals). Diagonal streets are favored among both cyclists and motorists because they cut through Chicago’s usual grid – after all, the quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line. Due to the heavy bike traffic, this street is a designated bike route and there are either bike lanes or sharrows the entire way. However, due to the heavy car traffic (and bus traffic and truck traffic), it can be stressful.

There is an alternate street route, which I’d never taken as part of my commute before (Armitage and Racine).

The route is along two secondary streets at a right angle, instead of the one diagonal street, adding a little less than one mile to the ride. For someone outside of a big city like Chicago, these would probably be busy streets, but they’re calm compared to my normal route. One street has a bike lane and the other has wide lanes but no bike lane. With very few stop lights and many four-way stop sign intersections, they’re ideal for bikes.

My ride was much calmer than usual and, surprisingly, I got home in pretty much the same amount of time as usual. Maybe 3-4 minutes longer. I’ll have to take the “long” way more often! Conveniently, this way took me right by a quaint neighborhood wine shop. Sauvignon blanc is the perfect treat after a ride in 94 degrees.

This is going down as an event for the Summer Games, take the long way home.  I’m grateful that I took the opportunity to try something new, thanks to the Games.  I look forward to hearing about everyone else’s adventures. :)

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Sweltering v. Freezing: Better for Bicycling?

The whole country seems to be pretty hot this week. Chicago has been at a high of 90 degrees, including during my ride home yesterday. As I sat at a stoplight in the sweltering heat of the direct sun, car exhaust swirling around my head, I fondly recalled the winter. But is one really better than the other?

Summer Bike

In the sweltering summer:

  • I wear a tank top and skorts, carry my work clothes with me and change in the bathroom at work after freshening up with an Action Wipe or washcloth.
  • My hair gets sweaty, especially my bangs.
  • I ride more slowly to stay cooler.
  • I slather on sun block to keep my sensitive skin from burning.
  • Lots of other cyclists are on the road with me.

Winter Bike

In the freezing winter:

  • I can wear my work clothes on my bike.
  • I have to wear extra clothing layers – tights, leggings, scarf, gloves, wool socks, snow boots, ear muffs.
  • Oma is the bike of choice, equipped with studded tires.
  • I ride slowly to watch out for slush and patches of ice.
  • Lights are essential, as my commute is usually in the dark.
  • Only a few other cyclists are out there with me.

Both extremes have their challenges and benefits.  Of course, the best weather for cycling is between the extremes, which is most of the time.

How do you deal with the different seasons?  Would you choose sweltering or freezing, if you had to pick one?  And why oh why do most people choose to ride their bikes on the hottest days and abandon them after Labor Day?

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Keeping Cool

Riding 5 miles in 80+ degree temperatures does not have to be miserable. Take the opportunity to kick back and relax, keeping cool while keeping your cool. Everyone else can rush rush rush, but you’re too smart for that.

After my Friday work commute

That’s how I roll :)

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Allergies?

I’ve never been allergic to anything in my life – no food, medicine or plant could get me down. However, this spring I’m wondering if allergies have sprung upon me. For most of April, I had a terrible headache that went away temporarily only when I took Advil Allergy that someone gave me. She said I probably have allergies, and that she never had allergies until her late 20s, either. Now the headache is gone, but all week I’ve had a terrible scratchy throat. This started hours after I frolicked in the park below, where an astonishing amount of dandelion seeds wafted through the air and piled up in gutters.

Among the Enemy

Damn Flowers

Woe, does this mean I have allergies? Could it be exacerbated by riding my bike everywhere? Maybe it’s from city pollution mixed with heat?

If allergies are the culprit, does anyone have advice for medicine or a home remedy?

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Kitted Out

Last week I talked about riding slowly to avoid sweating and last year I talked about fresh summer cycling.  However, when the temperature is 90 degrees, changing into work clothes after the commute may be simpler than worrying about sweat marks and riding super slowly, especially when you’ll have to duck into the bathroom to freshen up anyway. Such was the case today, when I “kitted out” after suffering through a terribly sweaty ride in my work clothes the day before.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to introduce my LGRAB team kit.

As always, I have the Nutcase helmet and Po Campo bag. I might get a breezier helmet for the summer to cool my head better – a sporty helmet with lots of air vents. In the alternative, I’ll ride my Dutch bike on the bike path more often to forgo the helmet. Sweaty hair is my least favorite part of bike commuting (well, after cars).

I wear these crochet and leather fingerless gloves for longer hot rides with my Betty Foy. The combination of sweat and cork grips causes callouses otherwise.

My first summer of riding, I bought a lot of clothes specifically for commuting. Any old summer dress or tank and short combo would do, but I like Patagonia’s skorts (looks like a skirt with shorts underneath) and tanks with build in bras. Anything in merino wool is also good.

Keen cycling sandals are ugly as sin, but keep my feet cool and are odor resistant – a huge benefit when they’re sitting around my office all day. They have built in things on the bottom to connect clipless somethings. I ignore those.

Essential eye gear, of course.

The whole shebang.

My skirt and blouse were rolled up in my basket, but I’m gonna start leaving some suits in my office, along with my work heels.

Whether you prefer to ride in work clothes, casual clothes or special cycling clothes, it’s all good. Mix it up. Experiment. Just do what works for you.

Anyone else making accommodations for the heat (or cold, for the Australians out there)?

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