Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dressing for the Road

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    These days I will tend to walk journeys less than 4km. Any distance on a bike for me is likely cause a soaking, so wicking synthetics are a no brainer (might try merino when I can afford it).

    Outlet stores are your friend. Pt Chev to Onehunga for a visit to Dress Smart is kind of a perfect ride for me. I confess, I've never worn merino on the bike -- perhaps I should try.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Adamson, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I'm pretty much exactly the same as Stephen: mudguards, work clothes (shirt and lightweight trousers), ground effects jacket, with overshoes and over trousers in my pannier. I also have merino and silk beanies which take up no space and are good for fine tuning adequate warmth on colder days. Work is 6km away and I go fast enough that my heart rate is a bit elevated but not enough to get sweaty - not in the mornings anyway. Essential detail in avoiding sweating: I never wear a bag on my back. The panniers have been a really good purchase. Second essential detail: take off a layer _before_ getting too hot. It also helps that I live in Chch, so flat, low rainfall and low humidity

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2012 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Natalie H,

    I don’t see that many people wearing work or street clothes and I can’t remember the last time I saw a ‘frocks on bikes’ type. Why not? Because bike-specific clothing is ideal for riding in. That’s what it has been designed for! It’s comfortable, it doesn’t flap around or get caught in the moving parts of your bike (no need for trouser clips), there are zips so you can respond to temperature changes while riding, and pockets to carry your pump/work swipy card/whatever in.

    Quite. I didn't start out with cycle/active clothing. It was just a bit of a revelation when I did start using it. More comfortable, more practical.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Simon Adamson,

    Essential detail in avoiding sweating: I never wear a bag on my back. The panniers have been a really good purchase.

    Yes, panniers are part of my rig too. And avoiding back sweat was a factor in deciding to buy them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    I am definitely in the street clothes category but do change into shorts for my commute and choose woolen shirts if I go > 5kms and can't shower. I cannot wear the 'sporty' plastic shirts Russell likes because they stink before I leave the house. I have considered padded undershorts if I can get away for some touring.

    I recently bought some heavy-duty Cactus Supershorts to see how they last, since a few years in the saddle tends to wear through the crotch on denim. Still wearing them in after about a month, but would prefer that they cover my knees which work hard and deserve cosseting.

    On my feet I wear the same boots I wear for everthing else, which happen to be steel-capped as that's what was in the outlet store last time I replaced them. I need the exercise, so don't mind that they are heavy or that I'm getting less efficiency without clipping in. Street-ready mtb shoes seem to be getting cheaper, but can I wear them in the backyard clay then straight onto the bike?

    For rain I found a $20 poncho at the Avondale market that was good on my big, heavy, upright shopping bike. It hooks over the handlebars, allowing enough air underneath to avoid the usual problem of being wetter inside than out. The wind resistance was less than I expected, too. I did use lycra-ish tights up in Vancouver, for staying warm when wet. Was a bit shy, so bought a loose size.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Calcio,

    I cycle regularly for fitness and to work when the weather is good. Up to 400 kms per week in summer on a "road-bike". Makes me wonder how I find the time? I always have my bright front and rear flashing light on even during the daytime. This are on a usb so can be recharged on a PC each week. Apart from my light coloured shirt and back-pack cover I believe the lights have been invaluable in keeping me safe on the roads.

    Mt Albert • Since May 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    My commute to work is 3.8km. Being Dunedin, getting to work is largely down hill. I wear my work clothes. I have not worn a full suit, but frequently wear a suit jacket, shirt etc. In winter, I add gloves and a ground effect jacket for windproofing. Takes me about 9min, and although about half the route is on the flat, I aim not to break a sweat.

    Going home is an entirely different endeavour. It's a 100m+ vertical climb, and I take a slightly longer route (~4.2km), which is a bit gentler grade, and the roads are a bit quieter. I have 'normal' shorts and a ground effect top to get home. Takes 18-22 min depending, and pretty damn hot by the end of it. Have experimented with panniers, but have struggled to find any that stay on well enough for me to be confident for my laptop.

    Also, if you are taking the normal clothes route, I can't recommend enough investing in some old style trouser clips. Conveniently, quilters apparently love them, and I got mine from a quilting supplier on trade me!

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • craigm,

    I ride most days for commuting - about 9kms each way. Taupo to Wairakei. I have the luxury of either Mtn bike track or main road (SH1 - but with nice wide shoulders for most of it.) I ride a road bike with clipless pedals (or mtn bike with spd's) and usually take a change of clothes in my bag, along with lunch etc. luckily dress code at work is jeans / tee shirt, so no worries with wardrobe issues.
    Used to be totally lyrca for shorts, but this summer have been wearing some groundeffect baggy shorts. Totally fine for the 9k and a bit more stylish if you want to stop off in town for something on the way home.
    We have a shower at work, so i just wear a sports tee shirt in summer or in winter it's lyrca cycle shorts with groundeffect daddy long legs tights over the top. then a merino top (or 2 if it's real cold). Then over that a groundeffect Flash Gordon jacket. Just got my 2nd one of those after wearing my previous one for 10 years! Then if it's super cold a full face ski mask. It can get to -4C in winter here so full cover is totally necessary.
    Gloves, always. In summer fingerless gloves, in winter full finger gloves. These are my favourite, ninja ice gloves http://www.argus.co.nz/mainmenu99/cat113/Freezer+Gloves/p767/Ninja+Ice+Gloves.html.

    Lights, just got one of these for winter. super cool!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix2sNGhXJ2c

    Helmet, always.

    Taupo • Since Nov 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Pierre Bourdieu stays in your head for ever and ever and ever, and sometimes you just have to share.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Adamson, in reply to James Green,

    James, my panniers are Deuter and have a nifty catch which means you can hold your bike upsidedown and shake it (yes I've tried) and yet it lifts off with one hand in a single motion. I bought mine for about $140 about 8 years ago from the awesome Cycle Trading Co in Chch and so far the laptop hasn't come to any harm

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2012 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Essential detail in avoiding sweating: I never wear a bag on my back. The panniers have been a really good purchase.

    Yes, panniers are part of my rig too. And avoiding back sweat was a factor in deciding to buy them.

    I bought panniers after about 6 months of using backpacks when I first got my bike. All I got was a sweaty back no matter what I did. Panniers are great and I’m never going back. I have 4 now; 2 Deuter round town panniers, and 2 Ortlieb touring panniers.

    Probably will get a 5th one – an Arkel Commuter bag as the Deuter/Ortlieb panniers are not really suited to commuting purposes.

    James - most reputable pannier manufacturers make products that stay on rear racks, so I'm not sure what the problem is that you are having.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Glen Koorey,

    I think I follow many of the commenters here in saying "it depends". It depends on whether I shower at work (and therefore am happy to work up a bit of a sweat and exercise on my 6.5km in) or whether I am already showered and dressed for the day before I leave home (perhaps because I'm going to a meeting elsewhere first). It depends on whether I am just nipping down the road to the shops (and thus won't bother changing) or whether I've decided to go on a 30km tour of sites around town (occupational habit) and hence some lycra might be reeeaaalllyy handy to minimise the saddle-soreness.

    "Lycra mode" would be some bike shorts probably underneath some "normal" shorts or trackies (pockets are very handy!) depending on the weather, with typically some breathable fabric on top or maybe a thermal if it's a bit nippy, some fingerless gloves, often a headband to keep the sweat out of the way, and some sneakers or black velcro shoes. "Normal mode" is of course whatever suitably formal or casual wear I am wearing or deem appropriate for my day, although my pace may be a little slower if I want to minimise the perspiration.

    If it's a bit cold I have a GroundEffect Baked Beanie for my head, a terrific Polo Poncho to keep my chest/neck/ears warm on a frosty morning, some full-length gloves, and a toasty Columbia Interchange jacket. If it's really wet, I'll opt for my Kathmandu jacket (although even the waterproof-ness of this is not what it used to be), my ski-gloves, and perhaps some overtrou and my tramping boots. A real downpour might also sway my thinking to having the shower at the other end; then it doesn't matter if I get wet first.

    In the case of trousers/trackies, I'm quite happy to let socks do their magic to protect them from the chain, although I do have a couple of reflective ankle snaps for wet days with my overtrou. And I will generally swear by my two panniers for carrying my stuff, although occasionally I'm also taking my laptop home in its own backpack as well.

    As for the cycle lane discussion, could I commend to you the various posts at Cycling in Christchurch, including avoiding dooring, Chch cycleway designs, and the Ilam Rd cycleway under construction.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Celia Wade-Brown,

    Wellington has hills, sun, rain and wind - sometimes all together. I live almost 8km south of the Town Hall and find cycling really convenient within the city. Often I have 7:30 breakfast meetings so cycling in and then having a shower is really not ideal. So if it's calm and I just go to the city, I might use my "chocolate powered bike " but if it's a brutal north-westerly or I have to go a bit further up hill, I'll use my electric bike.

    That means I can wear a suit jacket and arrive looking fresh rather than bright red - or late. I either wear trousers or a dress/skirt with cycling shorts underneath - as I did when cycling to airport to meet Hillary Clinton.

    I don't cycle every day but serial times a week. Sometime I go in by car or bus and use a pool bike to cycle to parliament or another meeting. It's such a friendly and convenient way of getting around .

    I do pop on a high-vis jacket on top of business wear and have both a helmet and bike mounted light. And won't go through red lights - but that's a whole other conversation. People oddly enough say " but it's dark " but I love riding in the dark - usually less traffic and lights are very visible! Just got back from a very full day and was pleased to be cycling back from presenting our draft annual plan and governance - but some NZers think it's totally weird I don't have a car and driver, let alone that I cycle. Diplomatic corps, especially European ambassadors, get it. Tomorrow I'll be going insincere other half does a night class further north so life for many of us is very multimodal - bus, walk, cycle, drive, passenge (new verb!).

    Anyone in Wellington who wants more rapid development of cycling facilities please come along to the Council Chambers, Wakefield St., on 1st May - refreshments (fuel) and networking from 5, forum discussion from 5:30. And make an annual plan submission - we doubled the funding already but it doesn't deliver enough!

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Celia Wade-Brown,

    Kia ora and thank you for chipping in.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    Forgot something I used last night - a cycle cap under the helmet.

    Mostly for the brim to keep the rain off my glasses, but also for protecting the pate from water falling through the ventilation. On sun-strike days the brim pulls down low to minimise glare (no prescription sunnies here).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    Has anybody thought to Capture the cyclists at the Avondale Market (or similar)? The 'old Chinese gentlemen' demographic, for example, displays a fine variety of refurbished bikes with ingenious cargo facilities.

    Such cyclists rarely feature in discussions like this -- perhaps like the construction workers discussed upthread. Are they considered by planners and advocates? Have they ever been engaged in cyclist community building?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    I bought panniers after about 6 months of using backpacks when I first got my bike. All I got was a sweaty back no matter what I did. Panniers are great and I’m never going back. I have 4 now; 2 Deuter round town panniers, and 2 Ortlieb touring panniers.

    I am seriously looking into panniers now I've seen so many of you recommend them for round town. I love my Kathmandu backpack, but in midsummer - which here can easily mean 30C+ temps and high humidity - it's no fun.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I am seriously looking into panniers now I’ve seen so many of you recommend them for round town. I love my Kathmandu backpack, but in midsummer – which here can easily mean 30C+ temps and high humidity – it’s no fun.

    I'm definitely a backpack > pannier convert. The Vaude one I bought from Rode even doubles as a backpack.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    Has anybody thought to Capture the cyclists at the Avondale Market (or similar)? The 'old Chinese gentlemen' demographic, for example, displays a fine variety of refurbished bikes with ingenious cargo facilities.

    I've considered it many, many times since Avondale is my hood. They're dudes after my own heart, utterly impervious to style, dedicated to cheap, and all about the practicality. I'm a mere understudy.

    I'll see what I can do.

    Such cyclists rarely feature in discussions like this -- perhaps like the construction workers discussed upthread. Are they considered by planners and advocates? Have they ever been engaged in cyclist community building?

    This type is also a frequent occurrence hereabouts, the industrial area is just past me, Rosebank Rd is somewhat cycle friendly, there being something resembling a marked lane, but most importantly there is no parking. Also, it's dead flat. Guys in their work fluoro and boots ride past every morning.

    Are they considered by planners and advocates? Have they ever been engaged in cyclist community building?

    I don't know for sure, but I'd be amazed. It seems to be a demographic people not commonly associated with riding. Their reason is almost entirely around the cost, I'd guess, since we're talking about intra-suburb commutes, for which cars are much more "convenient". But maybe they don't own cars, or can't drive. I don't know if this is common in other "poor" neighborhoods - Avondale is unusual in Auckland for being flat.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    Such cyclists rarely feature in discussions like this – perhaps like the construction workers discussed upthread.

    +1.

    I feel a Tumblr coming on.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I got a really good deal on Ortliebs by haunting UK cycle retailer websites for a few weeks until one had some on special. Got them about half the price they would retail at here. They have proved to be excellent.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Thanks for the pannier suggestions everyone. When I get back later in the year I will definitely check those. I picked a pannier that doubles as a satchel that seemed like a great design, but turned out to be a turkey. Basically the attachment mechanism was removal (for satchel use), but it turned out that it was the attachment's attachment that failed, typically with a decent bump. The other thing I was considering was a rear basket, because I wondered if I should just strap my backpack into that. I haven't gone wholesale pannier, because I'm a mixed mode commuter, and would prefer not to have to switch bags on days that I walk.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The Vaude one I bought from Rode even doubles as a backpack.

    Yes, and, contrary to my expectation, it's actually a good backpack too. The across chest strap redistributes the weight downwards so it doesn't become the horrible forward leaning grind that poorly designed backpacks become. The zips and straps are good quality so waterproof and hardwearing. Separate book/laptop and general compartments keep things like wet clothes and food away from paperwork and electronics. The lack of padding in the straps seems mostly compensated by their separation at the top, and their width.

    Only niggle - the zip for the pannier compartment does rub against my pelvic bone at the back. For any hike longer than a few minutes, this is fixable by attaching the chest strap, but a few minutes is exactly the hike I do up to 5 times a day when at varsity. I expect callousing will become the long term solution :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I personally don't really get on with panniers. Instead, I have a saddlebag on my commuter bike - it hangs just behind the saddle and holds about 8ltr of stuff, which is plenty big enough for raincoat and work clothes. Plus, it makes the bike look like an old school English tourer - I've had several other riders comment approvingly on it. Carradice saddlebags, handmade in Lancashire.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    The ‘old Chinese gentlemen’ demographic.... Are they considered by planners and advocates? Have they ever been engaged in cyclist community building?

    Yes :)

    In Sydney a number of councils go out of their way to find people like them and work out what they want. It can be hard when their native/only language is not English (Fairfield council does community surveys in 12 languages, for example). Usually they do stalls and info days rather than surveys, because grabbing whoever happens to have 10 minutes spare as they ride past is nearly worthless. But that reaching out is expensive, and often produces results that the powers that be do not like. Hence the "reforms" That Nice Mr Key{tm} is currently putting through, for example.

    I've been paid by councils to do everything from bike counts to route design to sitting on stalls badgering cyclists. Stapling strips of paper to handlebars works really well, BTW. Just put a one-sentence request ("tell the council where you want a new bike path") URL and phone number of it, plus the council logo. Or in Fairfield, 12 sentences...

    Discovery is also difficult because counting "cyclists not using this route" is hard, and many cyclists don't think about planning issues much. So asking "what routes would you like" can be pointless or meaningless. The bicycle user groups (BUGs) over here do a lot of this work for council, at some risk of the interests of engaged cyclists dominating. I'm a BUG member, and we try to cover all cyclists, but we're really ad-hoc (inevitably).

    What seems to work really well is general obstacle awareness. We try to get the railway, road and motorway people thinking about the scale cyclists work at (they'll ride further than pedestrians, but dislike hills more, for example) when building or modifying obstacles (railway lines, main roads, pedestrian malls etc). Sometimes it works really well, sometimes it works well but the planners are unhappy (cyclists riding on pedestrian overbridges being a big one... like anyone is going to dismount and walk 100m over an otherwise-empty overbridge). So some BUG work is just educating both sides, and some of it is post facto infrastructure adjustment.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1193 posts Report Reply

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