Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Okay, now the gloves are coming . . .on!

I feel it's important to continue writing about the apparel I don for my near daily commute of close to three miles and fifteen minutes each morning and afternoon the days school is in session. The reason I think it's important is because I am attempting to change the perception of commuting by bicycle in my own little corner of the world and in my own little way. I wish to show those around me they can ride their bikes nearly every day of the year; they don't have to spend large amounts of money purchasing the "latest" gear and bikes; and the type of bike best suited for commuting around here.

What does this have to do with apparel I wear to and from my destinations on the bike? Well, it's important for people to see me wearing "regular" clothes. Take that descriptor with a grain of salt because my wardrobe is definitely threadbare and secondhand, thus disqualifying it from being "regular". Well, people may in fact wear secondhand clothing and still be "regular", but my problem is that my clothing is not fashionable. Anyway, what I mean to say is that I simply wear the clothes I'll be teaching in that day, out on the bike for my commute.

Rather than buying and wearing special jackets and pants,and shoes which are advertised as being cycling specific, I choose to wear my slacks and dress shirts, blazers and leather shoes on the bike. Most of the problem, at least here in the mid west, is the dramatic temperature change from morning to afternoon. When I leave in the morning now, I am wearing a white tee shirt;a semi-turtle neck;  a button up long-sleeve dress shirt;  a blazer of one design or another, a pair of black driving gloves; my slacks, shoes, and helmet. It goes without saying I choose to wear a highly reflective work approved vest as the outermost layer on my torso. This morning I added an additional article of clothing: a black synthetic "scarf" or muffler. It's one of the most versatile things to wear I can find. I love it for preventing the wind from going down the back of my neck. It also seems to act as a heat stopper and allows my body to heat to remain near my chest without escaping up out of the neck of my shirt.

This morning when I left I felt the cold, and by the time I arrived at school I was nearly hot. That's one of the tricks of commuting by bike. It's difficult to be prepared for nearly every weather situation, but there are a few situations I want to always cover. First, the rain. I always carry an old two piece rain suit in my backpack folded as compactly as I can manage. It's old and believe it or not,the crotch is all ripped out. It's totally the wrong color for commuting by bike: gray! But, luckily I've taken the time to attach quite a few reflective adhesive trailer stickers to it. By stickers I mean the adhesive white and red rectangle ones used to attach to trailers and the rear of work trucks and gates and the like, not the ones depicting our favorite cartoon personalities such as Scooby-Doo.

I like the many layers approach to dressing for the cold. That's because I can always remove articles as the need arises and I have adequate temporary storage for transporting them when not in use. Layering clothing seems to make the body breathe a little easier and reduce the overheating effect.

That's about it. Each day more or less determines how I'll dress. In the upcoming weeks I'll add a windbreaker type article which I'll wear to keep the cold wind and air from freezing my arms and chest. After that has exhausted its usefulness in the cold, I'll begin topping off all this with a zippered leather jacket. The difference is dramatic!

One thing I would like to add to my list of accouterments is a balaclava. My ears do tend to get cold and ache in the truly cold weather. But, I don't like to wear caps and such under my helmet.

Just don't despair. All the stuff I wear and use is not cycling specific gear and has been purchased or given to me from a variety of sources. I definitely don't wear spandex. I utilize platform pedals with no clips. That's because they allow me to wear whatever shoes or boots I wish to wear, rather than using clip-less pedals and the accompanying shoes, which means I'd be forced to carry extra shoes for teaching, or keep a pair in the desk or somewhere else in my room. Instead I keep a boot brush in my desk to maintain the leather if it needs it.

You don't have to wear cycling specific clothes in order to commute by bike.You just need to realize what you need and determine if you have it, and then use it. Part of the reason we commute by bike is save a little bit of money. I figured I saved roughly $3 per day I ride my bike. If we go to school 180 days, that's a savings of $540. That's money I'm spending in other places. That's not the only reason I commute by bike, of course. The main reason is I just like it so much. For those who remain uninitiated, it's difficult to understand. Some folks may decide to try it and become discouraged and give up. Try not to. You can do it. I'm no expert and I'm not anything special. I'm just a guy with a goal.

Keep on commuting by bike!

of Lately, the temps have been quite cool in the morning, and dark.

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