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Commuting : How Not to Wear Spandex

6 Outlier Pants

Originally posted at our sister site : CommuteByBike.com

My tri-modal commute to Charlotte has partially changed my perspective of commuting concerns. One of these concerns is clothing which I’ll be deep diving in the next few articles.

Photo Credit : Outlier

Photo Credit : Outlier

Business Attire and Dress Codes

Since I now work back in the marketing and advertising industry there is more of a dress code than what you find in the bike industry. There are days that one is able to wear khakis or even jeans, but on the days that there is a slight chance of a meeting or client call those clothes won’t cut it.

Dress clothes, especially nice ones, don’t wear well for riding a bike and sweating. They also don’t do well with being shoved into a messenger bag. While I’m looking into a better solution of carrying the business attire, laptop and paperwork I still haven’t found it.

Shopping for Bike Friendly Dress Codes

While my better half cringes when we go shopping, I’ve been shopping for styling clothes that are “bikeable.” If I was a guy, this would be easy but it seems like the idea of technical fabrics and womens dress codes are very rare.

Thankfully the mornings have been cooler so I can pull off the 2.5 mile bike ride from the bus to work by simply rolling up my pants legs and pedaling slowly not to sweat. This won’t always be the answer, especially when it’s raining! (Currently those days I walk.)

Bikeable Work Clothes

What do you use? What brands or fabrics wear well and still can allow you to walk into a board meeting?

Tracking Your Progress

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Polar CS200

Polar CS200

As humans we like to track things, some humans more than others, but needing to know speed, averages and time is built in from birth. This need is sometimes justified, you track miles and distance on a car to calculate gas expenditure and to know hoe much gas is left, or when you may need more. Your body and bike are no different.

There is a Need, a Need for Speed

One of the first things I recommend for a new cyclist(behind a helmet, hydration and padded shorts) is an on board cycling computer or cyclometer. Today I don’t want to sell you on a computer or to explain the basics of computers, as we’ve done that before. Instead I want to talk more about the variety of styles, getting more into technology and why or who would need them.

Starting Basic : A Watch

As simple as it sounds, many of us have a great measuring device on our arm. The watch on your arm can help gauge compared to previous rides or laps, how well you are doing.

Cyclometers or Bicycle Computers

Blackburn Neuro 5.0

Blackburn Neuro 5.0

We have covered the basics of bike computers here before, to recap visit the page over here.  Over the years of use the standard computer doesn’t excite me anymore, but it is a much needed tool for cyclist as they are starting off.  Knowing your speed, averages and distance will make you a stronger cyclist but knowing your limits make you a smarter cyclist, a bike computer can help with that.

Heart Rate Monitor’s

Polar CS200

Polar CS200



The step up from a standard cyclometer in my mind is the heart rate monitor. The key to heart rate monitors is to know your proper limits and zones. With that you’ll need some sort of testing done to check your limits with an accurate test. There are some people that recommend using a formula where you take your age and then subtract a random number. I’m not recommending that formula here because every body, diet and activity level is different. A program for testing I do recommend is New Leaf, I’ve used this only for testing in the past and can’t speak for their weight loss and exercise program. (I’m not paid or endorsed to say this about New Leaf either.)

GPS

Garmin 405

Garmin 405

When GPS first came to market designed for bikes, roughly 6 years ago, it was revolutionary but rather expensive. Pair that with the facts that many people didn’t know about them or what the could do with them. Now, you can get into a Garmin 405 GPS tracking watch for $299. They are easy to move between bikes, or even use it for running and walking. Some of the more advanced styles can double as an on road or trail GPS with street or topography maps.

Cycling Gives Women Feelings of Freedom

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As a young child I always going out on my bike or out on a run to get out. I wasn’t one to play video games or watch tv, I always needed to get out.

Because of this the bicycle gave me a freedom further than my two feet. I didn’t need my parents, boyfriend or anyone to aid me in getting where I wanted to go. Exploration and adventure were a pedal stroke away.

“I think (bicycling) has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.”

Susan B. Anthony’s words, spoken in 1896, ring true today. Courtney Ramey, a dedicated bicycle commuter, agrees with Anthony: “It’s easy. It feels great. It’s freedom.” Pam Polizzi loves that “biking gives you a great deal of freedom in getting around the city easily.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/03/10/NSPP1CAFIB.DTL#ixzz0hsrYwouB

Today this is going one more step as women seem to be hesitant to get out on the road or bike trails to try this new skill. The second they do try it, they feel empowered and free of all the ties they left at home. The children, errands, work week or BlackBerry can go on hold for a couple hours as they ride.

What about riding a bike makes you feel free?

Why I Ride with an iPod, and Don’t Think I’m Stupid

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For many years I’ve been riding on the road with music. Originally it was one of those crazy Mini-Disc players that my mom thought would take over the music scene.  Little did she know, it fueled my cycling passion.  One of those little Mini-Disc players could hold hours of music, and run off AA rechargeable batteries.  It had the ability to record on various disc and dub out/delete.  I could ride, ride and ride without listening to the same song twice.

For many reasons music was needed for my riding style

  1. Boredom – normally kicking in around 45 minutes to an hour and a half
  2. Riding alone – see above
  3. Motivation – Certain songs would kick me in 6th gear and I would be able to push it, be it for time or watts.. the music moved me.
  4. That Go to Track – On days I would put a song on repeat for my 3 hour ride, it allowed me to focus and tune out the day of crap
  5. Wind whistling pisses me off – the noise that the wind makes when it hits your helmet straps, or hair.
  6. Feeling “PRO” – All the pro’s were wearing radios in their ears back to the team car, I’m sure their managers played some sort of music for them.  If they didn’t, they should start now.

At first I rode with one earphone in, leaving the left one that was closest to the road out.  Actually, I had a couple headphones that I cut off the left earphone so not to get in the way.  Time went by and I had theories, if the music was low enough I felt I could hear just as well as I did with the wind whistling in my ears.  I tested my theory for several rides and feeling confident enough, yes my hearing isn’t paired as long as the volume is kept low.

Mirrors are your friends

Often mirrors are even better than your ears.  You can SEE, you don’t have to turn your head and you are prepared.  By the time I hear a car coming up behind me, it might be too late to react.

iPod is not iDeath

one of the main issues of the headphones is not so much its removal of the individual’s ability to hear
it is more the combination of the inability to hear and the lack of focus
instead of being in tune to the surroundings the individual is focused on the music
letting the focus drift away from the variables around them
the same goes for mountainbiking… snowboarding… rollerbladding… whatever…
- Gwadzilla

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to disagree with my buddy, Gwadzilla. The main issue within congestion or lack of senses, are the bicycle riders and not the iPod.  As a cyclist for many years, all my senses are tuned in more than the average rider.

Now, I do find it hard to ride mountain bikes with both ears plugged in.  The hearing that Gwadz mentions above is very necessary while mountain biking.  Hearing how the bikes handing, the tires gripping and the gears shifting are all very important.

One Last Thing

Out of the few times there has been a run in with a car, my bicycle, and myself.. there was never ANY music playing in my ears.

Photo Credit : Gwadzilla

Pre-Season Planning

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Off SeasonThe off-season and pre-season are two of the most important parts of your training program.  If you are a competitive cyclist or athlete, you are aware that off season is slowly ending and pre-season for 2010 is right around the corner.  You also could be like myself, my pre-season started about two weeks ago and I’m two weeks into my first 6 week leg of training.

The off-season is time to put your feet up, take in a couple beers and reflect on what you achieved in the past year, or want to achieve in the next year.  Pre-season can also be called early base, but normally starts late in the prior year before your season.  So 2010 pre-season is actually in late 2009.

Quickly I want to talk about pre-season planning and why putting it off until January/February can cause more trouble.

The holiday season is hard for everyone, and it can be even harder as you’re traveling, not bike riding and eating lots of yummy holiday meals.   That’s okay, realize you are going to do this and stop stressing.  This also means you need to ride your bike during the holidays to keep your pounds low going into the next season.

Sit down during Thanksgiving vacation and think about what you want to do next season, what are your goals and how can you obtain them.  Tell them to us, put them in writing down in comments so you aren’t only committing to yourself, but to the world wide web that this is what I’m doing for 2010.

Next, look at your holiday schedule and figure out how to fit one more stretching routine, small group class or run in, even once a week.   It will keep your stress down and weight off from all the holiday events.

The 2009 season just ended, but you now are in the seat to make 2010 even better.

Photo Credit : NBPL Teen Book