I am a huge proponent of riding to work, whether all the way from home, or in conjunction with another mode of transport – so-called “bimodal” commuting. Once you get to your workplace though, what do you do to transition from sweaty bike commuter to presentable office worker?
I’m going to share my strategy. Obviously, our circumstances may vary, so not everything may work exactly the same way for you, but I bet you can still pick up some tips.
BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES
It’s a fair bet most workplaces frown on their employees dressed in sweat-drenched clothing, so at the very least a change of shirt is required.
I also found out the hard way that trousers or pants are a general no-no for bike commuting. At least for me and my “don’t stop pedaling” style, the action of thighs moving against saddle nose and sides while turning the pedals at 80-90 RPM wears holes through pants very, very quickly from pure friction. It is just not cost-effective except for shorter rides. For this reason, I would much rather ride in baggy shorts or spandex; there is much less material in either garment to get in the way and be subjected to friction, so they last longer. Ultimately, when you wear through the seat of your baggy shorts, it’s cheaper to replace that with a new pair than doing the same with trousers or jeans. Save your trousers and jeans for when you’re actually in the office.
Best to bring spare underwear as well, to avoid your groin and crotch sprouting saddle sores from the moisture and friction of sweaty skin. Petroleum jelly, if needed, is also a good idea.
SECURE A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN FRESHEN UP…AND CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF
The concept of a shower room for cyclists is a pretty strange one for most office spaces, so you will have to make do with what you do have. For me, it’s a cubicle with a toilet and a nearby tap.
Taking a “shower” this way is bound to leave a mess of a wet floor, so I borrow a mop from the janitor’s closet every day to clean up afterwards.
Alternatively, if you don’t have something like this to work with, I’m told baby wipes are a decent way of freshening up. I’m a little iffy about this though, as baby wipes are also notoriously hard to decompose or biodegrade – I try not to use them unnecessarily.
BRING SOAP AND A TOWEL
If the shower option is feasible, I highly suggest bringing a distilled set of bathing gear. I’ve had success with Aquazorb’s microfiber hand towels and Safeguard’s Pure White body wash in the 200 mL bottle because they are as small as I can get away with, while still remaining very effective.
The Aquazorb microfiber towel in particular is an underappreciated gem, I think. It’s a “hand towel” per se, and it may feel strange against your skin at first, but in practice, it has enough absorptive capacity to put a full-size terrycloth towel to shame. Even in an air-conditioned office, it dries in after around 2-3 hours of being laid flat. When not in use, it rolls up into a little bundle with its own elastic strap. At PhP180 apiece, it’s perhaps the cheapest you can find a good microfiber towel for in Metro Manila. Just don’t wash it with fabric softener.
BRINGING A DRESS SHIRT?
Fortunately for me, my workplace doesn’t require button-down shirts; simple shirts and denim jeans are fine. For guys out there who have to bring a button-down shirt with them to change into at work, one tip from GCN’s Matt Stephens to keep the shirt wrinkle-free is to employ old magazines and sandwich the shirt there…or to make use of the magazine as a shape-giving filler or “spine” for the folded shirt, and put it all in a relatively tight-fitting envelope. I’ve tried this before, and it’s surprisingly effective.
BRING YOUR CLOTHING IN ADVANCE?
Alternatively, instead of bringing clothing every day, you could bundle all the clothes you’d need in a work week and leave them in a locker at your workplace on a weekend. This method may work for some people, or it may not.
In a nutshell, that’s how I freshen up after each and every day riding to the office. What’s your post-commute strategy?