(Editor’s note: Also read Margaret’s first post in this series: Get the Right Gear.)

Once you have your bike gear all ready, you’ll have to consider what you’ll need once you get to the office.

Wrinkled clothes. Rolling my clothes up and carrying them in a messenger bag has worked fine for me, but then again I don’t have to wear a suit every day. If you have to wear a crisply ironed suit or just can’t carry the clothes on your bike, try biking three days a week and carrying an extra set or two on the other days. For women, try saving the easy-to-wear stuff for the days you ride your bike. That might mean packing a simple sheath dress or a top and skirt in a hard-to-wrinkle fabric.

By the way, Treehugger just did a roundup of messenger bags with solar panels on them, in case you want to charge your cell phone or music player. Not that you should be on the phone or listening to music when you’re riding…

A shoe drawer. The bottom drawer of my desk has…let me count them…eight different pairs of dress shoes. Shoes are heavy and it’s great not to have to carry them with you every day. Come on, how often do you need all your dress shoes on the weekend? Bring ’em in where you’ll need ’em.

Sweat. Yes, we all sweat and, depending on the time of year and length of your commute, you might need to shower. Many of us are lucky enough to work in buildings with gyms or locker rooms. If so, stash a towel, flip flops, toiletries and a hair dryer in your office or in a locker.

If your office doesn’t have shower facilities, one possibility is to join a gym or rec center near your building. If your commute is pretty short, you can get in some extra exercise and use the showers. Or, if you have to, bring in some baby wipes and take a “bird bath.” Not ideal, but neither is driving!

Pack your bags. Get a good messenger bag or panniers (saddlebags) and pack them with everything you’ll need the night before. If you keep an extra set of toiletries and a towel stashed in your bike bag at all times, packing won’t take more than five minutes.

It’s a lot easier than trying to pack when you are in a hurry and showing up at work without an important article of clothing. Not that that’s ever happened to me….

Next week: Margaret tackles planning a route to work.

(Image: Margaret checking her gear is stowed properly before a ride. Credit: Darryl Tait.)

If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. Don’t forget to pack a belt! I can’t cout the times I’ve forgotten a belt…unfortunatley I’m not in high school, so there’s no rope at the principals office for me to use either.

    1. Mickey — your principal had a rope in his office? What was that for?

      Margaret’s suggestion to leave your shoes at work has changed my life. Of course, I brought them home with me to polish over the weekend, and then forgot them on Monday. Bike shoes with dress clothes — never a good look…

  2. Wrinkled clothes? Either wear them as a badge of honor (and use a jacket and tie you could keep at your cubicle to hide them if needed), or slowly replaced old clothes with (moderately) wrinkle free trousers and shirts (I have done this over the years).

  3. It’s not easy with the hills and my ever changing schedule but my goal is once a week. Today was the day. I would love more tips to make riding more efficient from those who do this often. I do need a better bag. My messenger bag today kept sliding and hitting my leg. The backpack I’ve used before is just too much on the shoulders.

    1. Yadira, I would invest in a bike rack and a set of large panniers. As a commuter biker with a bad back, I can no longer carry a messenger bag because it bothers my back to much. Using two evenly balanced panniers and a bike rack means that you’ll never have a bag slide around your front at an inopportune moment — and it actually makes you more efficient and table, freeing you up to concentrate on your ride.

  4. Another option for women is to bring stretchy knits to wear for work. I have several skirts and tops that look dressy enough for an office environment, but they are rayon/spandex-type knit and don’t get wrinkly! I leave a hair dryer and extra pair of sandals in my desk drawer, as well.

  5. And with a bike rack (I put my dayback on the rack), you have the added advantage of getting a nice breeze on your back! Less sweating! (although on some days it makes no difference at all).

  6. Gret artile, but what about using a Bikatrunk?

  7. I have grocery bags paniers an example here: and stick my daypack in for going to and fro work…then if I need to stop at the store on the way home I can stick grocery’s in the panier and strap on the daypack. A regular backpak will do, but the belt on a daypack really helps with keeping the weight off the shoulders.

    The principal had a belt for students with super baggy pants. If boxers were showing then the principal would make them wear a big yellow nylon rope in place of a belt the whole day. Very affective!

  8. I find it helpful to have a bike commuting checklist by the door where I quickly scan and see – do I have my wallet? lock? a snack for my son who will be in the bike trailer? my crossing guard stop sign for when I cross the street? Yep – somehow it all manages to fit.

  9. Yadira: here are a couple of efficiency tips: PumP up those tires! you will notice an incredible difference in efficiency. Inflate to the full rated amount marked on the sidewall of your tires. When you need new tires, get narrow ones, 1.5 inch or even 1.0 inch which allow even harder tire pressure.

  10. I’ll second the suggestion to keep absolutely as much of your clothing in your office as possible: suits, shirts, shoes, belt, ties, …

    I get shirts cleaned at a place within walking distance of the office, and never have to carry them on my bike, clean or dirty. Its enough to carry lunch, bike lock, etc.

    Not to be indiscreet, but keep a spare (clean) set of socks and underwear at the office — there are worse things than forgetting your belt!

  11. Bringing a headlamp and reflective gear in case you work past daylight hours. Plus I am now keeping a raincoat and rain pants at work in case it storms.

  12. baby wipe baths…definitely great for the low-sweat days. great article!

  13. One hair tip: If you have short hair, take your helmet off immediately when you get to work, and fluff. If you leave it on – your hair will dry (assuming you did sweat a little) with helmet impressions.

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