What to Pack for a Bike Commute

Oh man, this has been an insane week: when I started to write this post, I automatically opened Excel rather than Word. But it’s over with, and I feel I can go back to more of my normal level of craziness next week. One thing I’m particularly excited about is the arrival of May and the start of Bike Month. With the newly gorgeous weather, I can’t wait to get back in the habit of bike commuting. Also, my university is offering prizes for those who register as bike commuters and log in their mileage. More exercise, save money, less pollution, and prizes? I’m pumped.

Anyways, with the beginning of Bike Month, I thought I’d share my essentials for bike commuting longer distances, when you show up at your destination a little less than fresh and sparkling. I’m lucky enough to have a locker room with a shower around the corner from my office, where I keep a set of toiletries and towel. But, when I started, I didn’t have that luxury, and came up with a pretty good system for freshening up in a shared work bathroom in just a few minutes.

Let’s start with getting clean. I’d throw a bar of facial soap and a washcloth into a Tupperware container. Use the soap to wash your face (surprise!) and dry off with the washcloth. Next, get that washcloth wet and soapy, and hop into a stall (preferably a large one) and wipe under your arms and any other sweaty area. Wet soap and washcloth can go back in the Tupperware and keep your gym bag from getting too mess-y. A friend of mine swears by baby wipes (bath in a box), but I’m too cheap for disposable products. From there I’d apply fresh deodorant and sprinkle on a little baby powder.

Obviously, pack a complete change of clothes and shoes, including underwear. Actually: especially underwear. It’s so much easier to be happy and enthused with fresh underpants. Pack clothes that don’t get wrinkly, or that are supposed to look rumpled. I’ve got limited space in my bike basket between school stuff and my lunch, so I also avoid bulky clothing.

Finally, I throw in a small bag with a few key pieces of make-up, jewelry and maybe a headband or scarf. For once this pasty girl doesn’t need blush, but a little pressed powder doesn’t hurt to deal any leftover shine or redness. With lighter hair, I can also run a little baby powder through my bangs and along my roots, and then pull my hair back. If my bangs just don’t want to cooperate, I grab the headband or scarf.

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