This blog is for you if, like me, you commute by bike but can’t shower (there are no facilities, and there is no time - I pedal slowly, my 36 mile round trip commute already takes AGES and I can’t leave until I’ve pushed my son out the door to school); also, if you can’t wear skinny jeans.
If you can wear skinny jeans then every women’s cycling trouser ever designed is for you – enjoy. But I’m, let’s say it, a bit overweight. A British Cycling survey recently asked respondents to sum up their attitude to cycling in 3 words. I said, “more cake allowed”. So skinny jeans are not for me.
Nor are standard lycra Tour de France outfits. Not only do I look ridiculous while I ride (slowly) but I couldn’t stand in front of 50 undergraduates dressed like that.
I avoid shiny, wet-look everything (just on principle, really)
I’ve had to research what works carefully. I’ve made some mistakes. Maybe I can help prevent you making the same ones.
Let’s start from the bottom (literally). Every cycling outfit is built on a foamy insert. I go for the lowest profile I can. Usually in a boy short. I love the cycling panties but they give me a VPL and I don’t need to add that in addition to the feeling that I’m wearing a nappy.
I don’t wear cycling leggings, because when I arrive I don’t want to reflect every light beam. I also avoid shiny, wet-look everything (just on principle, really). I wear leggings that are as plain and matt black as I can find and that are thick enough they don’t show my knickers (or rather the boy shorts).
I regard my merino top collection as one of the best things I own – for cycling or not
Over the top of my leggings I sometimes wear a dress, something stretchy and short (but not revealing when I swing my leg over the man’s frame on my bike – remember the thickness of my leggings). The only trouble with a dress is that it makes layering more difficult. More often I wear a skirt on the same lines, that is, short and stretchy – and at least a little A-line. If you are shaped like me you need to avoid the hip-hugger skirts. If you can wear hip-huggers, it's likely you can wear skinny jeans and again – enjoy but you don’t need this blog.
You probably already know never ever to wear a cotton blouse. It will get sopping, it will crease, it will smell. Leave it for days when you’re forced to take the car. I have also learned not to wear polyester for commuting (many sports tops are made of this). The problem here is that it can smell freshly laundered out of the drawer, but warm it up to body temperature and you realise it hums even before you’ve started the ride. Once sweaty and smelly there is no option except a good dusting with bicarbonate of soda and you risk looking like you’ve been in a bizarre baking accident (it can’t only be me this has happened to?).
My top choice is merino. But there are other anti-bacterial (i.e. smell inhibiting) choices. Most of these also wick the moisture away and dry quickly. Many makers are now selling smart, work-friendly options. I regard my merino top collection as one of the best things I own – for cycling or not.
Finally, shoes. I clip in. For a shorter journey I’d be happy with any shoes with a grippy sole (I can just flip my pedals over: clips one side, no clips the other). But for 36 miles I need my clips. I’ve found a pair of all black bike shoes that look like standard pumps. As long as I don’t have to do any more than walk the corridors they do fine for work. I probably wouldn’t go for an interview dressed like this. But it’s good for everything else.
Great Gear for Stylish & Practical Commuting
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