Life on a bike is so much more appealing in summer. Never mind that it’s warmer, you have fewer pieces of clothing to wear/ pack and you’re not contending with that undesirable mix of sweaty skin vs brittle wind. But for the sake of your wallet/ the environment/ your mental health – you soldier on. And this is how we make the cycling commute more palatable.
If your commute is long enough for you to bring a change of clothes with you to change into, you’re already looking at needing a bag. Pannier bags are key if you have a rack and they keep the heat and the pressure of your back and shoulders so things will be a little cooler and a lot more comfortable. They also have more room than a backpack but with a backpack (or bag you can put on your back) you can continue to use it throughout the day. Either way – you’re lugging that weight from A to B so you’re going to want to keep it light as possible.
Where practical, wear the shoes you’re going to be wearing all day. Cycling is easier on your shoes than walking so as long as you can move in them, it’ll save a tonne of space by not packing your shoes into a bag and will also save them from being crushed. If you wear smart shoes to work like brogues or loafers and you don’t think this is practical (and that it will look quite weird when paired with lycra), invest in a shoe tree for the journey and leave them at work for the week.
This can make things a lot trickier but presumably if you’re opting to ride, you have the means in your office to shower, change, and hang up a suit.
If you can steam anything at work, bring all your shirts and suits at once and steam or press them so they’re ready for the week ahead. Then take them home one day at a time to wash again ready for the next week. If you prefer the drycleaner (look for a local eco one) then this whole thing becomes even easier and you don’t need to transport them home at all and they can live in your locker.
In a pinch, you can bring in your shirts and leave them hanging for a few days to let the bigger creases fall out. The steam of the shower will help speed this process up. You can also make up your own de-crease spray that can be spritzed onto clothes and left to relax. Mix 1C distilled water with 1tsp of fabric softener and just spray and leave to dry.
You don’t need to cut corners in the grooming department just because you’re cycling. Hair is one of the biggest pain points and with helmet and sweat, it’s not a big surprise. We spoke to Gina Conway, owner of three Aveda Lifestyle salons in London to get the professional scoop on how to work with helmet hair.
“Wearing a cycling helmet to work, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have a ‘bad hair day’! I actually love the way helmets can create fun shapes and interesting textures in the hair. Style as usual in the morning before setting off, then once at work, spritz and work Aveda’s Rinseless Refresh Hair and Scalp Refresher through the hair to reinvigorate the scalp and re-style the hair with movement and texture. It also has naturally derived styling polymers to help combat humidity so perfect to de-frizz unruly hair!”
We also recommend leaving one set of toiletries at work (or in your bag) so you’re not liable to forget anything and end up at work with no deodorant and no moisturiser. On days we’re running a little late or feeling the pressure of getting ready, we opt for The Gruff Stuff face and body moisturisers which we spray directly onto skin and rub in. These ones are vegan and contain a bioactive complex composed of Australian super fruits. This is key in winter when the cold wind is whipping your face and then 20 minutes later you’re in an artificially heated room. They’re not too big so won’t be cumbersome in lockers and bags and the spray bottles means they’re not liable to spill.
The best time to moisturise is at night, where your face is bare. When cycling you want to make sure you are protecting your skin so your skin would still looked fresh. Our face oil has squalane which is super moisturising and meadowfoam and broccoli seed oil helps lock in moisture and acts as a barrier stopping the winter breeze drying you out.
The mornings are, unfortunately, still darker than we’d like and it’s a rare day you will leave the office while the sun is still up. So visibility becomes a priority. In addition to lights on your bike, get a bell or other audio signal (pedestrians often don’t look for bikes when crossing the street) and maybe extra lights for your helmet.
Kit-wise; reflective gear and bright colours up top are attention-grabbing and on-trend so you won’t be restricted to wearing them on your bike and instead work for casual days, adverse weather, and festivals just as well.