Tag Archives: Clothing

Summer’s gone, days spent with the bike and sun

Yes, yesterday was a gilet day, today was a gilet day too, so the rubbish weather has started.
Some people miss summer and give up cycling for the winter, but winter has some lovely cycling days and they are really missing out. Rain, snow, ice etc are just variations of weather and I like them all in small doses. I have tyres for ice and rain or snow won’t stop me either, cycling is fun, in winter I slow down a tad, but it’s still more fun that any traffic jam I’ve ever been in. Oh, the thing I do love about winter is watching people scrap ice from their cars, there is an immense satisfaction I get from cycling along with a smile enjoying the elements and stripping off a layer to cool down whilst people shiver as they scrap the ice off their cars and glance at me all warm looking.
So, here’s to winter, welcome old friend and adversary.

What is a gilet day you ask?
It’s when it just too chilly (below 8 degrees celsius) to start the ride with only t-shirt and shorts so I sling my gilet on too.
What gilet do you have you ask?
Well, I am pretty happy with my gilet, it is one of these:
dhb Windslam Gilet
(in black)
Some people don’t see the point of them, but at this temperature I just need something to give me warmth until I’ve got a couple of miles in and I’m stripping it off or unzipping and feeling like a superhero.

My cycle commute setup part 2

In My cycle commute setup part 1 I covered my cycle commute setup, now I’ve got a bit of spare time I’ll cover the contents of my bags. Some of the tools and bits and bobs are not required and you can survive without them (I do tend to over pack) but having been stranded miles from work before now I never want a repeat of that day!

Handlebar bag

Top tub:

Personal bits and bobs – wallet, keys, mobile phone(s), extra strong mints
Emergency snack – current favourite are yoghurt coated fruit flakes because I don’t want to eat them so they actually last longer than one ride!
Notepad and pen – useful for recording ride conditions, observations and mileage. Also good to have in case of accidents you may witness or (unlikely) be involved in

Tub two:

Puncture repair kit
Spare quick links for my chain (they have to match!)
Latex gloves – really good when the chain breaks
Electrical insulation tape – you never know when you’ll need some tape to tape something up
Tyre levers x 2
Small adjustable spanner – one of my bikes is not quick release
Driver with flat, cross point, torx T20 and an allen bit
6 different sized allen keys (for every sized bolt on the bike) – preferred to a multitool
A pin – useful for clearing dirt out bolt and screw heads
Chain link removal tool
5 or so chain links that are left over from fitting the chain – combined with the chain tool and quick links I have complete defense against any chain breakage that may happen
1/4″ and 5/16″ sockets (for every nut on the bike)

(these things I’ve not needed to use, yet!)
Glue-less patches – just incase the glue and patch puncture repair is tricky e.g. in wet and cold weather
140mm x 3.6mm cable ties x 2 – just incase the rack breaks and I need to hold it together until I get home
100mm x 2.5mm cable tie x 2 – ideal size for emergency chain repair, use a ping replacement as a means of joining the chain links
A torx T20 key
A spoke tool

Edit: I found a couple of pictures of the tools, useful for checking I’ve got everything

Tub three:

Spare rag – when your chain comes off or you have to change a puncture on a dirty tyre you’ll be glad of a spare
Two spare inner tubes – because one is sometimes not enough and changing punctures at the roadside is not fun

Other handlebar bag contents:

House, shed and gate keys
Bike lock keys in side pocket for easy access
Front light battery pack in other side pocket
Antibacterial hand gel

Office pannier bag

Spare cycling jersey – in case of a large drop in temperature or a puncture in winter, you’ll be glad of a spare layer
Work pad and pen (for work)
Cuff links
Carrier bag – for wet and dirty cycling gear

What? No shoes? Why carry heavy bulky shoes when I can leave them at work.

Yes, I could cut down a lot on weight simply by leaving my two heavy bike locks at my office. But I would then have to buy two more so I can lock my bike up at home. I opt for carrying them around with me rather than the extra expense.

My setup isn’t lightweight but it is fairly solid and carrying the gear means I’m prepared and never have to worry about anything.

My commute is 18 miles each way, but there is no shower in the office

This post was born out of a comment on a blog post by cyclinginheels

My commute is 18 miles each way, but there is no shower in the office!
So I had to make a decision, drive 50 minutes and hate 40 minutes of the journey or cycle for 1hr 15 minutes and love (almost) every minute of the journey (but work around the lack of shower issue).
Well, I chose to do my hobby 10 times a week and I’ve never looked back.

No shower means unfortunately the best I can do is a sink basin wash, change into work clothes and shoes, re-apply deodorant and style my hair.
I find changing clothes does a lot for my personal hygiene as cycling clothes breathe well and absorb the sweat away from my skin, sweat drying on the skin is what makes us sweaty, therefore I’m not that sweaty after a wash and a change of clothes.

Hairy arm pits retain sweat too, so if you aren’t a regular arm pit shaver then maybe try it and see if that helps too. If you are a man reading this then don’t be shy, try it you smelly coward 🙂

The wash is naturally more involved on horrid wet and dirty days, but that’s fine, I’m not wearing my work clothes, I don’t need to protect them from rain, so I don’t wear sweaty waterproofs either. My feelings on waterproofs are that they make me feel hot, sweaty and unhappy. I see others cycling slowly in waterproofs trying (but not succeeding) to not overheat. I’m in my cycling shorts and short-sleeved jersey and not really bothered by it, yes, I get to work wet, no more than had I been wearing waterproofs though. Waterproofs work for short cool weather rides in my opinion, but I avoid them at any temperature. Also breathable waterproofs are not really that breathable and rely on humidity differences, when wet on the outside you’ve got no chance, sweaty on the inside, even less chance.

Another key to arriving in comfort is to not overdress, on cooler days, start off feeling cold and you will soon warm up. At 6 degrees celsius I will still start and end my ride in shorts and t-shirt! If I started off wearing anything more I’d be stripping it off 2 miles down the road due to overheating. Arm and leg warmers can help, but I find them a bit too much of a faff.

When my cycle commute was 22 miles each way I did have use of a shower, that was nice, I do miss that, but it’s not a deal breaker.

What was the temperature on that ride?

I’ve got into the habit of recording the temperature of each ride and noting what clothing I’m wearing, this helps me guess what clothing I’ll need but also gives me some statistics of what clothes are doing the mileage. I naturally also record the mileage, this gives me an idea of when certain maintenance activities (e.g. Rohloff oil change) are due.
I can see I wear cycling shorts more than any other item of clothing and only at temperatures above about 9 celsius. Anything lower and I need leg warmers, anything below freezing and I opt for roubaix tights. So if the forecast is minimum 12 degrees celsius then I know I can ride comfortably in shorts.

(In the UK) The Met Office has a good website for checking the weather and it also has 24hrs of observations under the “Latest/recent” section. This is my primary source of temperature statistics, yes it’s not as accurate as carrying a thermometer and recording the temperatures myself, but that would be OTT wouldn’t it 🙂