"...it's the humidity!" When I was working at a convenience store when I was younger, I nearly came unhinged every time I heard someone utter this from the other side of the counter. But it's true.
And it's been a while since I did an update on what I'm wearing for my rides and what I do to clean up. A couple folks on Twitter have asked about this with all the nasty sticky weather we've been having recently, and this seems like a great time to discuss this topic again.
First, what I wear. We'll just go head-to-toe here.
Head: well, a helmet, right? And a pair of cycling glasses. They'll keep the wind and dust out of your eyes. TIP: When you get to a stop (you DO stop at stop signs and lights, right?), pull your glasses down to the end of your nose so that they don't fog up. Then as the light changes and you're pushing off, push them back up.
Torso: I always wear an UnderArmour or some other type of technical shirt. It's cool, loose, and breathes easily. Plus, it dries quickly during the day so that I'm not putting on a damp shirt to go home. Avoid pure cotton if you can - that'll just keep you soggy the entire ride and take forever to dry. No one likes to put on a damp t-shirt to go home in.
I also wear my Pearl Izumi Vagabond jacket with the sleeves pulled off to make it a vest (the sleeves come off as one of the features). It breathes pretty well, and the visibility is awesome. You could also just wear a reflective vest which would cost a lot less. And it's got some pockets for keys so that they're not jangling around in your shorts (if you're like me and already carry too much stuff in your pockets).
Below-The-Waist: Okay, to answer the question ladies have been asking for years, I'm a boxer-briefs man. And the boxer-briefs I like most are, once again, from UnderArmour. They keep their shape, dry quickly, and wick the sweat away from... yeah, those parts. I've recently tried out a pair of boxer-briefs from Slix as well with good results, we'll keep you posted on that. Once again, cotton is bad, for the same reasons it is in t-shirts. An added nasty bonus is that when it is dry it'll be stretched out and bunched up and uncomfortable.
Over that I just wear a pair of shorts - usually cargo shorts because I like the pockets. My bike has a pretty wide, padded saddle and I don't need padded shorts for my ride every day (about 11 miles round trip). If your bike DOES have a more racing-style saddle and you want the padding, I suggest something a little more like this - still has pockets for convenience but also has the padding to keep you comfortable. I wore a pair like this for the recent BikeColumbus Festival Mayor's Twilight Ride and they were great.
Feet: My bike does not have clipless pedals, so I just wear a pair of stiff-soled sandals (what my wife calls "Mandals."). Stiffer soles make riding more efficient, and these particular sandals help keep debris away from my feet as well as help me avoid stubbing toes, etc. And they're nice and cool.
And that's it. I have two panniers, one to hold my work clothes and extra gear I like to have along on my commute (a rain cape, small towel, and some extra tubes and the like) and one that doubles as a messenger bag/briefcase for my work stuff.
As far as cleaning up, I don't have a shower or locker rooms available where I work so I use Action Wipes. The link gives you my review of these gems, and they're well-worth it. Two things I'll add to the review: they also come in single-packs now if you just want to toss a couple into your saddle bag or keep them in your briefcase. Very convenient. And keep a couple used ones around in a baggie or something when you're done - because for my money, nothing gets bike grease off you as well as an Action Wipe.
And for the final step, have a small desk fan in your office/cube/whatever if possible. A few minutes sitting in front of that will cool you down nicely. Seriously - I perspire rather heavily and it gets me cool quickly.
So there you are - the update on what I'm wearing and how I'm getting clean and ready for work.
What tips do you have for new riders on what to wear and how to clean up? Share it in the comments!
People, not speed.