The Logistics of Bike Commuting And Staying Professional

This week ends the third week in a row that I’ve biked to work all 5 days. I’ve been thrilled to be participating in National Bike To Work Month, and wanted to share some information on logistics that make it MUCH easier to do. Helping out today is Mr. 1500 from the blog 1500 Days, who works from home now, but has done pretty epic bike commuting in the past.

Between the two of us, we’ve got hot weather and cold, a medium commute and a LONG one with some public transit thrown in for good measure, and both the male and female perspectives. Hopefully this helps cover the bases for most needs for anyone who needs help figuring out how to approach biking to work.


My lovely new helmet. Safety 1st!

Mrs. PoP’s Bike Commute

  • Length of Commute: 9 miles ~35-40 minutes
  • Gear & Accessories: Jamis commuter hybrid bike with a fab basket & (brand spankin’ new) helmet
  • Locale & Weather: South Florida. Hot and Humid by most standards.  Occasional clouds of flying ants.
  • Work Attire Expectations: Business casual

Weather Adjustments: The name of the game in FL is keeping the sun off of you (which I learned pretty brutally after my first ride – go here for the sunburn pic!). So I now wear capri length running tights and a long sleeve white top to keep the sun off as much as possible. Dry wick fabric keeps it comfortable and it airs out and dries easily at the office. And I can’t forget SUNSCREEN. Lots of it. Face, neck, ears, and the tops of my hands are all slathered in SPF ~20-30 minutes before every ride. Jump in the pool at the end of the day to cool off when you get home to cool off if needed. =)

Clean Up Routine: No shower at work, but that’s fine with 9 miles in the am. I keep a cleanup kit at the office that includes: baby wipes (I LOVE Huggies One and Done – Cucumber and Green Tea scent!), deodorant, comb, face wash and washcloths, daily use face lotion and sunscreen (Have I said sunscreen enough? This is the freakin sunshine state!), and mascara if I feel like it.

Do not underestimate the power of a baby wipe. If they can make a baby’s blow out disappear, they can handle a good amount of sweat and stink from a bike ride.

Keeping Clothes Professional: I purchased a few lightweight sundresses (avg $10/dress) made out of synthetic fibers to augment my more casual work wardrobe. They don’t wrinkle when folded and placed in a grocery bag in my bike basket for the trip to work. I always kept a stash of cardigans in the office in several neutral colors (white, black, brown), and now store flats in the office as well – a pair of white and a pair of black. We’re not a cubes company, so I have plenty of storage space in my office which is really nice.

Coworkers Comments: My coworkers love it! I learned one of them used to bike commute before I joined the company, but had to stop because he has eye problems and lost his peripheral vision. Occasionally they tease me about dressing nicer now than when I drove to work, but it’s all in good fun as we’re very much like a (dysfunctional) family at my office.

Random Comment/Suggestion: For women, embrace showering before you head to the office and braiding your wet hair under your helmet for the ride. It makes it so much easier to avoid helmet hair and tangles if your hair is still wet from the shower when you get to the office and can just comb it out. Also, I’d recommend storing an emergency set of bra/underwear in a discrete location in your office just in case. Somehow I forgot a bra (not good!) one day, but luckily had my emergency one in the back of one of my desk drawers.


Mr 1500’s ancient Rockhopper now recommissioned as child transport!

Mr 1500’s Bike Commute

  • Length of Commute: 30 miles, ~2 hrs each way. Could also take train for part, biking 2 miles to train, riding train for 30 minutes, then biking another 6 to work.
  • Gear & Accessories: Ancient mountain bike (ca. 1990) for riding decommissioned train lines converted for bicycle use. I always wear a helmet. I spent $50,000+ on my college education; there is no way I’m putting my brain at risk. My sister is a speech therapist who works with many folks who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. The stories she tells me are horrible. Trust me, wear a helmet.
  • Locale & Weather: Chicago, IL and suburbs. In the Midwest the weather is unpredictable, so effective bike commuting was a matter of looking at the weather report and trying to prepare as best as possible.
  • Work Attire Expectations: Business casual

Weather Adjustments: I always enjoyed riding in adverse weather. I installed plastic fenders so that I wouldn’t get sprayed by wet tires. In the winter, it’s all about bundling yourself up correctly. As long as you have windproof clothes and make sure you don’t have any gaps where wind can get in, winter riding was fine. Often, I’d actually get too hot.

Clean Up Routine: My work had a shower. When I did the train version of my commute, I almost never had to use it. Even in the middle of summer, I’d get going early before the heat set in. Unscented baby wipes were a great way to wipe down if I was a little sweaty, but not enough to warrant a shower. When I did the whole 30 mile ride, I’d have to take a shower.

Keeping Clothes Professional: On Monday, I’d drive to work and bring in clothes for the whole week. We had small cubes, so I’d just hang my clothes over the cube wall.

Coworkers Comments: It was very unusual. Even the people who lived less than 2 miles away never considered anything but driving. I received all kinds of crazy questions: “What is wrong with your car?” “Why don’t you own a car?” “Are you preparing for a triathlon?” “How do you keep from getting run over?”

Co-workers knew that I didn’t live close to work and many thought I was some kind of super athlete for being able to bike 60 miles in a day. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have asthma, two torn knees and have never run a mile in under 7 minutes.

Random Comment/Suggestion: My biggest problem was restraining myself in the morning. I’m the type who is either “full on” or nothing at all. However, I found that if I maintained a reasonable pace, I could usually get into work without working up a sweat. That was always hard for me to do.

I think that the keys are not to exert yourself, leave early, and dress appropriately. If you live in a hot place and your work hours are negotiable, try to start as early as possible. You’ll miss the heat of the day and arrive without being soaked in sweat. Wearing layers is key as well. I would often start off with 2 or 3 layers, but by the end of the journey, I’d be down to just my bike jersey.


And in case you didn’t think Mr 1500 was hardcore enough, he shared this little tidbit, too!

The longest commute I ever did was from a job site near Chicago back to my home near Madison, Wisconsin (we lived there after Geneva). The ride was 127 miles, but I was able to do almost the entire trip on trails. It took me 13 hours and my butt was redder than a baboon’s, but it was a ton of fun!


If you bike commute, join in the fun and share your answers below. Here are the questions I posed to Mr. 1500 and myself!

  • Length of Bike Commute
  • Describe Your Gear
  • Locale & Weather
  • Work Attire Expectations

1. Weather specific adjustments you had to make to your riding routine depending on the time of year?

2. Since I’m presuming you don’t slip into a phone booth Superman style and change from BikeMan to Clark Kent, what do you do to clean up when you get to work?

3. How do you deal with keeping clothes professional looking for work?

4. Did your coworkers ever have anything positive/negative to say about your bike commuting? Was it unusual?

5. Any other comments/helpful suggestions for someone who wants to give bike commuting a try but is afraid of losing their job because they smell like death at the end of the morning journey?


Have we convinced anyone to give it a shot? There’s a few days left in National Bike To Work Month, but the National Bike Challenge goes on through September 30!




64 comments to The Logistics of Bike Commuting And Staying Professional

  • Oriol

    I have a short commute of less than 2 miles (living in central Germany). So it’s pretty straight forward for me. The morning commute is slightly downhill so it’s difficult to break in sweat even in hot days during summer. On the other hand, we have a gym and showers available so lots of people coming from farther away usually shower when they come in. I usually take a longer ride than just straight line so that I avoid major traffic intersections and do a short ride through the forest.

    1. Winter time is usually snowy. On some of these days, if I feel is too dangerous, I just walk to the office, which takes me ~30 min.
    2. Commute is short, so I don’t brake in sweat.
    3. Short commute plus business casual work clothes. So, not difficult for me.
    4. It is very usual to come in by bike to the office. I would say 20% of us do it during summer. You can tell the hardcore ones apart during winter time though :-)
    5. Just give it a try and see how it works out.

    Biking to work is a no-brainer for me. But I guess not everybody has it so easy as me. For me it’s actually very convenient and it takes less time than driving because of the traffic jams. On the days I cannot bike (for whatever reason) I feel that my energy level is slightly down, so I jump on the bike again as soon as I can. I really enjoy it!

    • Your commute sounds awesome. I definitely agree that a longer route to avoid major traffic is definitely worthwhile. I lucked out that my backway to work is pretty much the exact same mileage on a bike as taking the heavy traffic roads that I would take with a car.
      I loved German transit habits when I went there in the 90’s and I think it’s awesome that 20% of your coworkers bike to work with you. =)

  • I might eventually have to try this out. I’m about 6.5 miles from work and it is relatively flat. The only problem is that I live in Florida :)
    Lance @ Money Life and More recently posted..Warning! Your Prescription for Proper Credit Card UseMy Profile

    • Why is living in Florida a problem? We’re in South Florida and it’s definitely not a problem for me – it’s a huge plus! =)

  • Very interesting! My commute is closer to 1500’s and honestly I’ve never given biking a real serious consideration. These are all really helpful tips though, and it’s interesting to hear that neither of you felt like the sweat was a big issue. Honestly that’s been my biggest reservation, since I don’t have a shower at work. The time commitment is another drawback in my mind, but there are plenty of benefits as well. Definitely gives me something to consider.
    Matt Becker recently posted..Investing in the Stock Market Doesn’t Have to be HardMy Profile

    • It’s been a pleasant surprise at how little time it feels like it’s adding to my day. I used to want to rush to leave work in the summertime so I could catch a 5:30 spinning class at the gym. But if I’m riding my bike to/from work, rushing off to spinning class doesn’t seem like something I need to do!

  • I’ve been contemplating a 30 mile bike commute in Chicago, but I’ve been too much of a wuss to pull the trigger. Now that I’ve seen Mr. 1500 did it regularly, I need to do it! I have a shower at my work, and I also have the option of training it part of the way, so I’ve really got no excuse. This has to happen soon!
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  • Julia

    I just borrowed a bike to start testing out biking to work. It is a short commute (< 3 miles). But, it is all hills and I am out of shape.

    My goal is to start biking in the evenings after work starting this weekend. I will start with flat land (have not biked since college 15 years ago) and progress to hills.

    Gas is $4.09 where I live and I do not have an efficent jeep. I am currently spending on avg. $3.00+ in gas (includes all travel not just work). I want to see that go down.

    • Sounds like you’ve got a good plan on getting used to biking and getting stronger before giving your ride to work a try. I bet you’ll find that you improve pretty quickly. Good luck!

  • I used to cycle to work and people thought I was broke. Then a couple bought bicycles, used them twice and never came back. With rain paints for winter it was easy to just remove them and be ready with work clothes underneath.

    • Rain gear is something I haven’t invested in, but have looked into. Most of our rain is in the summer afternoons, so it’s not the cold kind of rain that will freeze you and make you sick. I’ve had a little rain so far on the way home, but nothing bad. Did the rain gear make you hot to ride in?

  • That’s awesome! I know a few guys who bike to work but no women – I think it requires a little more planning on our part.
    eemusings recently posted..Random Asian travel observations to dateMy Profile

  • Love this post! I would love to bike to work, but I’m not sure how safe it would be. My work is only 12 miles away, but there is no direct way to my work unless you take the highway.
    Michelle recently posted..Negotiate for a Raise or Work on Side Income?My Profile

    • Is there a way that’s a few miles longer but off the highways? I know for some people that’s the case and it can make a difference. But if your route isn’t safe, don’t push it. There are some roads around here I would NOT feel safe riding on, but there are often safer back roads that you can take to avoid them.

  • I love that you had a spare bra in your office drawer haha…um…..haha
    I ride my bike some days and I just out my clothes in my backpack, my route is very nice so I’m not in the sun too much and we have showers and lockers at work. I don’t shower there, just clean up. I like it on the days I ride, it it does require some effort since I have to get up earlier.

    • haha, yup. I am the kind of person that had occasionally forgotten socks or a sports bra for going to the gym at lunch, so didn’t want to trust myself to remember EVERYTHING every day. So I stuck a bra in a grocery bag, wrapped it up and shoved it in the back of one of my desk drawers for “just in case” when I started biking. Sure enough, a month into the experiment I forgot a bra and needed to use it! =) What can I say, I guess after 30 years I’m starting to know myself and my weaknesses!

  • Meg

    You’re tempting me to consider commuting from Flushing Queens to Gramercy in Manhattan where I work. I don’t think I’ve ridden a bike since middle school. I wonder if my office even has a place I could stash a bike? What does everyone else do?
    Meg recently posted..Managing a WindfallMy Profile

    • I know nothing about NY geography, so have no concept of how far that is. Are there good cycle lanes across the bridges? Those are the areas that I worry the most about since if a car cuts too close to you on a bridge it’s not like there’s a shoulder for you to veer off into.

      As for where to put your bike, I store mine in a hallway that’s off the back entrance to our office. It’s basically just the hallway to get to the bathroom and the backdoor, so the bike doesn’t disturb anyone and by entering/exiting through the back door I don’t dirty our pretty bamboo floors in the rest of the office. When I used to ride a lot for school, my bike often got stored outside on bike racks, so I would bring grocery bags to cover the seat in case it rained. I hated sitting down on a wet seat.

      • Meg

        It’s about 9 miles; I currently take the subway for most of that and walk a mile and a half. I have a feeling bringing a bike to work would go over like a lead balloon, but then my coworkers can’t think I’m much nuttier than they already do.
        Meg recently posted..Managing a WindfallMy Profile

        • I would have thought in NY biking to work was fairly common! Though with the new rental bikes being installed throughout the city maybe it’ll become even more so?

  • You two are really inspiring, great tips! I’m in a similar situation as Michelle: the best way to get to my job is the highway, and I haven’t ridden a bike in ages, so I think I would have to do a lot of practice runs before committing to it. I definitely wouldn’t feel safe otherwise.

    Mrs. Pop, I love the tidbit about the baby wipes, cucumber and green tea sounds nice – might have to check these out now!
    E.M. recently posted..Getting An Apartment: Part IMy Profile

    • Oh the Green Tea and Cucumber wipes are great! I used to buy fancy ponds wipes to clean up after hitting the gym at lunch if I didn’t need a full shower and they were ~$5 for 30 wipes. But a mom friend told me about these and they are ~$2 for 60 wipes. And they are just as soft and work just as well and don’t leave you smelling like a baby!

  • Mrs. Pop – flying ants?! I do agree with the awesomeness of baby wipes – it makes lunch time runs less embarrassing afterward. Mr. 1500 – 127 miles as a commute?? Wow!
    anna recently posted..The one where we do things bass-ackwards (and where I reveal I am slightly cray-cray)My Profile

    • Totally flying ants. Here’s a link that talks all about them.
      I can’t ever remember being bit by one, but when running or being outside at night, they tend to be around lush plant areas and will swarm. If you’re running and see the swarm you can usually run around it, but biking, I’ve just been closing my mouth and breathing through my nose when I go through them. Then when I stop, I brush them off my shirt and sunglasses since they tend to kindof stick to you.
      Do you guys have noseeums out there? The flying ants are a lot like noseeums in how they act, but I actually prefer the flying ants since they’re bigger and easier to see and bite a lot less than noseeums.

    • Yeah, the 127 mile ride was awesome. I’d really like to work up to 150 or even 200, but I’m not there yet.
      Mr. 1500 recently posted..Thursday Rant: 2008? Huh? What!?My Profile

  • trudy

    Someone used to bike to work where I worked before. No shower. Gak.

    • Did they not clean up after? Depending on the ride and the rider, you don’t always need a shower, but not cleaning up at all might get pretty stinky.

  • Anya

    My husband and I have been commuting the 4.5 miles to work for some time, although we haven’t made it a year-round habit.
    Lately we have tried another form of transport to get to work: on foot. It was quite inspiring. The walk took about 1.5 hrs but it felt like we were on an early morning hike. Just wonderful. On the way back, we were able to take the bus but I could also see us walk back home in the future.

    • Your hike to work sounds great! Are you able to take nice paths without many cars? I think that’d be a lovely way to start the day!

  • Congrats to you both! 30 miles each way is no joke…I remember how long 40 mile rides felt and I did that for a charity event..not to mention the weather you’re dealing with! I work from home so I guess I have the ultimate commute, but I do need to ride my bike to the beach more where I spend a lot of my free time. I don’t even have the excuse of not trying to sweat or having to change! I just have one year and a big hill, but other than that…
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  • 127 miles, now that’s a ride! I have yet to clear a century. I go about 21 miles each way on a nice, used triathlon bike, which is great because I can average 17-20MPH depending on weather, traffic and lights. We have lockers, showers and a gym at work, so there are a bunch of people that ride and my hours are flexible. Great job riding! Keep it up!
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  • Sluggie

    Don’t you ever have to go places during work? Meetings in other buildings, mid-day doctor’s apmt, hustle a document around for signatures?

    • On days that I have a doctor’s appointment or something like that, I’ll drive. No biggie. But that’s maybe once every couple of months? As for meetings elsewhere, mostly no. We occasionally have lunch meetings and if they’re not at one of the many restaurants that are a 5 minute walk from my office, they’re usually with other people in the office and I’ll ride along. But most meetings or “document hustling” are done electronically in our office. Video conferences with people across the country, scanning and emailing documents.

      One of the nice parts about biking to work is that I find fewer excuses to run out to the shops at lunch, so I have fewer mindless Target or Publix purchases as a result. Instead, I go for a walk around the nearby golf courses for fresh air and it’s much nicer. =)

  • This is so brave and so cool! (Well…except maybe in summer.)

    Thank goodness I don’t have to commute anymore. Mine was 18 miles one-way through awful parts of town to a university campus where any decent bike was likely to be stolen.

    Even if I’d had a job closer to home, though, there’s not a chance. It’s just too dangerous to bicycle anywhere near the main drags around here. Suicidal, I think, is the word for it. We do have a canal that runs diagonally through the city, and the county has installed a bike trail along it. If you lived near the canal and your workplace was fairly close, then it would make sense to commute by bike.

    Too bad they can’t convert the freeways into gigantic bicycle trails.

    Some day, I expect… 😉
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    • I can just imagine the 202 loop covered in cyclists! That’d be awesome =)

      Around here, all the newer roads that are being built are very bicycle friendly – big bike lanes on the road and additional asphalt bike lanes off the road as well – so I think that bodes well for the future of non-car transportation.

  • […] Planting Our Pennies has been with us for a whole year! These days, they’re contemplating ways to bicycle to work, with panache. […]

  • Anne

    Mine is about 7 miles to my carpool location, but I haven’t successfully done it yet :-/. I tried last week with my craigslisted bike and new helmet, but sadly only made it about a mile before turning around- it took me well over 10 minutes for that first mile because it was so WINDY I was barely moving forward pedaling full force, and the same distance probably took 2 minutes on the way back coasting the entire way. Like Julia I plan to start biking more around town (grocery store is about 2 miles) and then try again. I think I would have been fine if the wind hadn’t been so crazy, but 20+mph winds are a pretty frequent occurrence around here.

    • Oh, the wind can be tough. We had some brutal gusts here last week and I swore I was going super slow, but it only took about 10 minutes longer than normal. Give it some practice on shorter rides and build up the confidence and I bet you’ll get to your 7 miles even with the wind! =)

  • Deanna

    Length of Bike Commute: 4 miles each way two hills
    Describe Your Gear: capri leggings, polar fleece shirt. Helmet, 10 y/o bike that was recently tuned up.
    Locale & Weather: Newport Rhode Island. All four seasons, I’m not sure I’m tough enough to try biking in the snow.
    Work Attire Expectations: Uniform. I’m in the Navy.
    1. Weather specific adjustments you had to make to your riding routine depending on the time of year? I’ll drop the polar fleece once summer gets here. The entire ride is only 15 minutes so I might skip sunscreen (I ride at 7am and 430pm).

    2. We have locker rooms and showers. I try to ride on the same days that we have PT (physical training) so the plan was to shower at work all along.
    3. How do you deal with keeping clothes professional looking for work? I drive on Tues to bring in my uniforms and stuff for the whole week.

    4. Did your coworkers ever have anything positive/negative to say about your bike commuting? Was it unusual? I ride with a co-worker at least once a week. I think since 8 of the 9 of us live practically on the same street – I think they are wondering why they haven’t tried to do it too.

    5. Set yourself up for success by trying just one direction first. Arrange a rideshare to break up the distance.

  • I’m so jealous. I’d really love to bike to work but there is just no way to get to my office without using the freeway. I have to get my biking in after work and on the weekends!
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  • Renee S

    Uh oh :( I am really happy you wrote this post because it really provided me with an AH-HA moment, but at the same time has made me quite sad. I have not LOST my peripheral vision (like your coworker), but when I look in my periphery, I see double. I have been thinking about purchasing a bike so that I could bike to work, but I am starting to think that wouldn’t be safe. Do you have thoughts on that? Well it sounds like you saved me some money that I would have spent on a bike, but I wanted to be like you and Mr. 1500 and Mr. MM and ride a bike! Are there other alternatives?

    • Sorry about your vision. Have you seen a doctor about that? They might be able to advise you as to whether a side mirror or something else would provide enough clarity to your vision to ride.

      My coworker is a weird story – he has a degenerative eye disease so the peripheral vision is just part of it. He does still bike regularly, but it’s usually on tandem (that’s a 2 person bike).

  • […] The Logistics of Bike Commuting And Staying Professional […]

  • Rick

    – Length of Bike Commute: 3 miles

    – Describe Your Gear: I have a road bike with a rack, lights, pump, and water bottle attached. I don’t like using a backpack because of 1) back sweat, and 2) wrinkly clothes, so I got this bag:
    It goes over the rack and there are several similar bags on the market. This one was relatively cheap and is working fine.

    – Locale & Weather: Baltimore, MD – hot and humid summers, cold winters.

    – Work Attire Expectations: Business suit/business casual (law office).

    – Weather specific adjustments you had to make to your riding routine depending on the time of year? I have only bike commuted for a couple of months now. I expect to layer on warmer bike clothes in the winter.

    – what do you do to clean up when you get to work?
    I commute in some sort of bike or workout clothes and then change at work and clean up with cheap Costco baby wipes (the same ones we use to change our baby). I also keep the following in my office: extra clothes/underwear, deodorant, comb/spray bottle/mirror for my hair. Basically, I show up sweaty, disappear into my office with the door closed for a few minutes, and emerge fully put together.

    Going to work I try to take it easy so I don’t sweat too much and then I race home and take a shower. I am a pretty profuse sweater, but the baby wipes do the trick. I also keep the clothes I came to work in in ziplock freezer bags so they won’t stink up the office. That means they don’t dry out over the course of the day, but I think the sacrifice is worth it to avoid the risk of having smelly clothes in my office.

    – How do you deal with keeping clothes professional looking for work?
    The garment bag pannier keeps my clothes in pretty good shape. It doesn’t wrinkle them any more than sitting in a car with a seat belt for 10 minutes.

    – Did your coworkers ever have anything positive/negative to say about your bike commuting? Was it unusual?
    Overwhelmingly positive so far. Biking to work has an auro of toughness which is not a bad thing in the legal world. One co-worker did question why I keep my bike in my office instead of locked up at the rack outside.

    – Any other comments/helpful suggestions:
    I take a slightly longer route than the most direct path in order to avoid main roads. It’s definitely worth it to sharing the road with lots of cars and buses.

    So far, it’s been so enjoyable that I can’t see myself going back to driving.

  • […] The Pops: Along with Mr. 1500, Mrs. Pop breaks down the logistics of biking to work. I have to admit that while this is something that has always intrigued me, I’ve never taken the plunge. This article was really helpful though in terms of thinking about how it would work. […]

  • […] affecting your traffic patterns all that much. And if you want to avoid the effect entirely, try bike commuting. There’s no better weather than winter in Florida to give it a try […]

  • Thomas

    Length of Bike Commute: 11 miles each way
    Describe Your Gear: Dahon D7HG (summer) – Surly Moonlander (winter)
    Locale & Weather: Chicago. Hot summers, insane winters (we hit something like -50 this winter after wind chill)
    Work Attire Expectations: Business Casual.
    1. Weather specific adjustments you had to make to your riding routine depending on the time of year?

    For the heavy snow days, I really have no choice but to take the Moonlander. Benefit of the heavy snow was being able to justify the purchase of a Moonander :)

    2. Since I’m presuming you don’t slip into a phone booth Superman style and change from BikeMan to Clark Kent, what do you do to clean up when you get to work?

    Evanston Athletic Club Gym membership! Talk to your employer and see if they have an agreement with neighborhood gyms. An added benefit is hitting the climbing wall for some vertical Zen before or after a long day of meetings!

    3. How do you deal with keeping clothes professional looking for work?

    Waterproof pannier bags and wrinkle-free clothing. I NEVER ride in my work attire, keeping the clothes separate helps me keep a totally different mindset between work and play.

    4. Did your coworkers ever have anything positive/negative to say about your bike commuting? Was it unusual?

    Most of my office bike commutes! It was very helpful to get advice and encouragement from them!

    5. Any other comments/helpful suggestions for someone who wants to give bike commuting a try but is afraid of losing their job because they smell like death at the end of the morning journey?

    Don’t be tempted to wear your work clothes unless you can really regulate your pace to keep sweat to a minimum. I always tend to zone out and push it when I don’t specifically focus on riding slowly. Good hygiene becomes much more important (not that you had an issue with it to begin with, I’m sure). Go buy a spare outfit (Shirt, Pants, Socks, Underwear) and leave it in a closet. Don’t make a habit of using it. Keep it for emergencies only. If you plan used to show up at 9am showered, shaved, brushed and adjusted, then don’t show up at 9 on a bicycle with the intent of doing all of those things in the company facilities. Adjust your schedule so that you are ready to go and at your desk at the same time you would if you were driving.

    • I am totally impressed with your snow-riding. Amazing! And totally agree on making sure you are clean and at your desk at the same time (if not earlier!) than you would be if you had driven to work. The plus side for me is that I’ve generally already been thinking about some projects and to-dos on the ride to work, and by the time I clean up, grab my tea and get going, I am deep into my work by the time other people start showing up for work.

  • Doc

    56 years old. 8500 feet . 2 mile commute downhill to clinic from my house. 2 mile uphill from clinic to hospital. Downhill to clinic. 2 miles uphill home. Currently using a cruzbike softrider I use non studded snow tires in winter here in Colorado at 8500 feet. Due to the downhill run to clinic- I just wear my business casual clothes. In rain, starting to use wind pants and jacket and rain cover for helmet. I wimp out in lightning and pea sized hail. In winter: knit cap, facial wrap, lobster claw gloves. I look like a Tuscan Raider from Star Wars, but am warm. Deep snow is a traction problem but is not commonly encountered. I may have to look into a mainlander. When I am particularly brave, I put my trombone case on a burley travois for local rehearsals and gigs. It’s fun.

  • Dan

    1. Weather specific adjustments you had to make to your riding routine depending on the time of year?

    I live in the Southeast, so we don’t get snow here. We do get rain, and occasionally I will wear work out pants and change into work pants when I arrive. Otherwise, I bike in my work pants.

    2. Since I’m presuming you don’t slip into a phone booth Superman style and change from BikeMan to Clark Kent, what do you do to clean up when you get to work?

    My commute is only 3.5 miles, so I don’t always sweat. If I do sweat because it’s humid, I go into the bathroom and splash water on my face and wipe off my face and hair with paper towels in the bathroom.

    3. How do you deal with keeping clothes professional looking for work?

    I ride in them, otherwise, if it’s raining, I keep them in a backpack and simply put on the pants when I come to work.

    4. Did your coworkers ever have anything positive/negative to say about your bike commuting? Was it unusual?

    This is the South, NOBODY bikes here, except for weekends and after work hours. Most think it’s dangerous (it isn’t) and others admire me, some wish they lived closer so they could do it (of course they could but they think they can’t, I can’t argue with them since it’s only 3.5 miles each way).

    5. Any other comments/helpful suggestions for someone who wants to give bike commuting a try but is afraid of losing their job because they smell like death at the end of the morning journey?

    My suggestion is this, do what I did. Start biking on the weekends, start doing your route as a “test” on the weekends. You won’t anticipate 100% of your obstacles, but this will build the confidence you need to start doing this during real rush hour traffic. Also, since this is the South, drivers are typically kind to me, almost to the point of extreme “weird.” I mean, they will stop behind me instead of passing me on the left, even though I give them plenty of room. I simply hand signal them to pass me, then they slowly creep by. Then again, most car drivers here don’t honk horns at other cars, it’s very rare. I have been honked at a handful of times but this happens less and less, I can ride faster now so I don’t annoy drivers as much as I used to.

  • Matt

    I’m in DC – live out in the suburbs, about 17 miles if I were to ride the whole way. But I just started commuting about 4 miles to the metro twice a week, and then have about 30 minutes on the metro, and a 5 minute walk. It’s all downhill in the morning, so I don’t really work up much of a sweat. On the way back, it’s a pretty good workout since I’m out of shape, but once I get in shape I’m sure it will be no problem.

    I’m considering working my way up to biking the entire way in twice a week, but according to Google maps that would take 1 hour and 30 minutes by bike. That’s 3 hours each day I commute. That’s the hardest pill to swallow. Plus riding at night makes me a bit nervous, and it’s getting darker and darker.

    I have a shower at work, and a decent size “closet” to put my work clothes. Also, two of the executives in the office bike to work, so that helps with the culture at work. I appreciate the tips by Mr. 1500, though.

    Right now with the short bike ride, I’m considering wearing business casual “breathable” clothes in so I don’t have to change – just do the wipe thing and some deodorant since I am completely dry by the time I get in the office.

    Do you have any recommendations on where to buy such “breathable” business casual clothing? I saw some on the Internet, but looking not pay too much – maybe $50 per pair of pants?

  • John Dough

    No. I don’t believe that anyone is doing a 9-mile ride home by bicycle in the late afternoon or early evening at an intense 15 mph pace in the hot and humid SUMMER months in South Florida when the heat index is 100 to 110 degrees and the road surface is 140 degrees to the touch. Not unless you’re young and in excellent physical condition. Sure, you can do that commute in the cooler 7 months of the year…or in the early morning at any time of year. But you’re risking heat sickness every time you do that level of prolonged exertion in those hot conditions. No health care expert would recommend that kind of bike commute on summer afternoons. You see very, very few people biking at that time of day in the Florida summer.

    • Are you from here? My doctor knows I bike commute and has no issues with it – in fact, all the docs at our GP are pretty avid cyclists/triathletes. While it’s true that I’m fairly young (early 30s) and fairly healthy (exercising daily, including bike-commuting!), I think you’re over-dramatizing South Florida coastal summer evenings. It really is do-able (by a recreational athlete – not anyone winning athletic competitions!) and I’m not the only person that does it by a long shot.

      My reality here is that from June – September, we get afternoon/evening showers almost every day (I’d bet at least 80% of the time I’m timing my commute home to be in between rain showers if possible) that drastically cool down the weather compared to sunny days. By the time I’m getting ready to leave the outside temp is usually in the high 80s (having come down from the low-mid 90s of 2pm), and the weather is very overcast or even actively drizzling or with heavier rains. Every once in a while the temp has even come down into the 70s from earlier rains which for the ride home which is lovely!

      There’s also the fact that when you’re near the coast (and by near the coast I mean most of my commute is 1/4 mile or less from the back bays that separate the small barrier islands from open sea), the ocean has a large cooling effect compared to the weather that might be felt by someone even 5 or 10 miles further inland. Not only do I get to take advantage of the sea-breezes (which are accentuated by the summer storms), but the ocean actually acts as a giant heat sink, which means the air temperatures nearest to the ocean swing in much smaller ranges than the air temperatures inland. In the winter, it’s warmer near the ocean, and in the summer, it’s cooler.

      Yes, I still sweat riding home in the summer and the rare time I rode home at 2pm on a sunny day in July was definitely a slow ride with lots of water at stop lights. But I most of the time I don’t even need to sip the water I always ride with. I sweat, but 35-40 minutes isn’t too dehydrating and I just hop in the shower or take a quick dip in the pool to cool off (and drink more water) when I get home. My average speed does drop a bit in the summer. Looks like I’m averaging 13mph or so on my recent afternoon rides. But there are a decent number of more serious recreational cyclists (MAMILs, mostly) that pass me on my rides going at a decent clip even on summer evenings and I’m assuming they’re not giving themselves heat stroke on a daily basis.

  • […] The Pops: Along with Mr. 1500, Mrs. Pop breaks down the logistics of biking to work. I have to admit that while this is something that has always intrigued me, I’ve never taken the plunge. This article was really helpful though in terms of thinking about how it would work. […]