June 27, 2014

Where Ya Headed?

A pair of fully loaded touring bikes is a sight that makes people wonder, perhaps where we came from and where we’re headed. I think most people tend to imagine it’s Coast to Coast, while we may only be on our way to a Wisconsin state park. Nonetheless, a comradery of wanderlust is built on as little as a smile or a nod to two people on a bike camping adventure. 
In any case, we’ve found people are more hospitable to bicyclists with panniers and camping equipment than without. For example, motorists tend to slow down and give more space. People we pass along the way, whether working on their yards or walking along the sidewalk, often smile and say “Hi.” Other cyclists really get a kick out of seeing us grinding up a hill, pulling the weight of everything stuffed into panniers or bungeed across the racks. As they pass by on sleek road bikes, they quite commonly give a cheer or a thumbs up.
A fully loaded touring bike also invites a conversation. It seems like whenever we’re stopped, people come up to us to ask about touring, where we’re headed (and react with a bit of surprise to a destination in Wisconsin), or to share a story about their own cross-country trek.

June 13, 2014

A Hot Mess

If my name wasn’t Alyson, it would be Betty. Sweaty Betty. Sweating can be a major concern for people considering biking for transportation. So let’s have a candid talk about it!

For many bike commuters, sweat won’t be a problem. Your ride will be short enough that you won’t have the time to work up much heat. Or maybe your ride is stop and go, so again, you’re not likely to get sweaty.
For some of us, this isn’t the case. I bike eight miles to work and there are several stretches where I can pick up the pace and go fast for miles at a time. I know the adage is, “bike slowly if you don’t want to sweat,” but I can’t help it. If I can go fast, I will - it’s part of the fun of biking!
Over the years I’ve been biking for transportation, I’ve gotten comfortable in my own (sweaty) skin. I’ve found that sweating doesn't make you “dirty.” I can sweat a little in the morning and still feel fresh for the day. I’ve developed non-showering methods to freshen up and choose clothing that will keep me cool.
What doesn’t feel fresh and can lead to body odor is wearing sweaty synthetic fabrics. In the winter my go-tos are wool and cashmere because they are quick-drying and never smell. Tank tops are my favorite for hot summer days because of the great ventilation. Often I’ll bike in a tank top and throw on a light cardigan at work. If it’s a particularly hot and humid day, I may even bring a fresh shirt to change into at work.

Look - you might sweat, but that doesn't mean you have to shower. Get used to a little sweat, it’s ok. Really.