Maggie has some tips on cycling commuting that she feels relate specifically to the challenges faced by women who commute on bicycles. One or two of them relate to everyone – for example, men also need lunch, water and dress shoes. And I do have a male cousin who never goes anywhere without his hair dryer – but I suspect he is the exception rather than the rule. In any event, heeeeere’s Maggie:
Maggie’s Tips for Women Cyclists:
“When Joe decided to commute to work by bike he took a deodorant and a couple of extra shirts to work, bought a Gortex rain jacket (review here) and he was pretty much done. Must be nice. As I say to Joe, it takes a village to be a woman and never did I realize this as much as when I was getting ready every day out of a gym locker. Over the last few weeks I’ve made a lot of mistakes and had many bad hair days, but I’ve learned.
Mistake #1 – Thinking that if your gym has a hair dryer you don’t need to bring your own. Yeah – no. What happens when there are two or three women trying to get ready at the same time? Best to have your own hairdryer if you don’t have time to wait around.
Mistake #2 – Thinking that toiletries, clothes, shoes, towels and sweaty cycling gear will all fit in a 1 foot by 1 foot locker … and that everything will dry out during the day. Actually, not so much. Even worse the work clothes start to smell either like sweat or moist towels. Yikes! To solve the “smell” problem I got really smart and bought a second lock. Now when I get undressed in the morning I put everything in a vacant locker, including the wet towels, so they get a chance to dry out during the day and most importantly my cycling gear stays away from my working clothes. When I get back into my cycling clothes at night I transfer the now dry towels back into my main locker. Most gyms will allow you to keep a day locker at no charge.
Mistake #3 – Thinking one water bottle will be enough. In the morning I usually finish my water while I’m getting ready in the gym, keep the bottle in my locker and then refill at night before I leave. Every so often I forget to bring my water off the bike in the morning and I suffer. My commute is 14 km (8.7 miles) one way with a few good hills and a water fountain about half-way home. More than once I have had to ration my left over morning water until I could refill. Now I keep an extra bottle in my locker for those emergencies.
Here are some other things that I’ve learned the past few weeks.
Panniers! Invest in a good quality set. There is no way that I could survive without mobile storage. My daily needs are too big for a backpack, and besides cycling is enough of a workout without extra weight on my back. (Review of Axiom panniers here.)
Keep your bike lock at the storage locker. Not only does this serve as a place holder for your parking spot, locks are heavy to drag back and forth daily.
Keep dress shoes in your office. I have mine under my desk. I keep a pair of flats in my gym locker to get to the office. I also keep my suit jackets in a closet at the office too. They would take up far too much room in the gym locker.
Have a double set of toiletries. I keep a supply of makeup, hair products, creams, and hair dryer in my locker rather than packing things in and out daily.
Pack lunches in bulk. At the beginning of each week I bring in a pannier packed with all the foods I need that week. We have a full kitchen at our office so I can bring in soups, leftovers, bag-o-salad, whatever. I pack in my work clothes at the beginning of each week and pack home my laundry at the end of the week.
You cannot have enough plastic bags! I always keep at least 2-3 empty bags at the bottom of each pannier. Makes it so easy to keep the laundry from smelling up the locker and your panniers, especially the towels. (Note from Joe: And you can wear plastic bags between your socks and your shoes if there is a sudden downpour – they do an excellent job at keeping your feet dry, and are much cheaper than so-called “waterproof” socks, which are hideously expensive and don’t work anyway.)
It took me about three to four weeks to get most of this sorted out, but now I’m organized. Keeping the second day locker has been my final tweak. Since I work downtown I can buy make-up, shampoo, and some foods locally so that makes things easier. Once you are organized, the maintenance is easy.
One thing that I’m still having trouble with is organizing my locker. It is hard to keep shirt, pants and skirts all looking fresh when they are hanging off those three small hooks. I’m trying a few different methods and I’ll let you know how I make out.
If anyone has any suggestions on how to organize lockers I would love to hear them!