With today set to be another scorcher, what better time to kick start a new habit and inject some adventure into your commute? Who wants to be sitting on a bus or stuck in traffic in weather like this? Dust off your bike or a pair of trainers and get yourself to the office under your own steam.
Funnily enough, one of the most common concerns I hear about a more active commute isn’t the traffic, or lack of fitness or even the weather. It’s getting a bit sweaty. It seems we are all concerned about turning up to work a little bit clammy and not having the facilities at the office to do anything about it.
No more excuses. Here’s what you need to know to make your active commute more comfortable:
1. Get organised
OK, I get that not every workplace has showers and changing rooms. But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with a miserable commute. All it takes is a bit of organisation. A can of deodorant, a small towel and even some spare socks and underwear in case you get really pongy is all it takes. Stick these in a bag in your bottom drawer and you’ll always have them to hand.
You might also work up an appetite, so keep some healthy snacks in there too, in case you get peckish mid-morning.
Allow a little extra time the first time you change any part of your well-oiled routine. Plan your route beforehand – the best way on a bike or walking might not be the way you are used to. Even better, do a dummy run on a day off or weekend. It’ll give you the confidence to continue the habit and save you bursting through the door at 8:59am, out of breath and drenched in sweat after you’ve ridden around the city three times.
If you are planning a leisurely walk or cycle, there’s no reason you can’t just wear your normal work clothes on a fine day. There’s something very British about cycling up to the front door on your Brompton in a suit, folding it up and walking straight to your desk ready to start the day.
For most people, though, it’s best to cycle in non-work clothes and get changed when you arrive. It only takes a few minutes. I’d choose some baggy shorts and a decent wicking base layer, with a bright commuter jacket for when the weather’s not at its best.
If you need to dress smartly for work, why not buy one suit jacket and several pairs of matching trousers? Leave the jacket on your chair at work and take a clean shirt and trousers in your bag each day. I’ve never found creases to be a problem but if you are worried about looking a little ruffled, try rolling your clothes instead of folding them in your bag.
If this look sounds too dishevelled for your liking, you’ll need to get organised. Take some clean and ironed clothes in on a day when you aren’t being active, so they are ready for you when you fancy a bit of adventure.
At a previous job, I had a particularly energetic commute. There were no changing facilities, no air-conditioning and certainly no showers at the office. I would cycle in all weathers and sweatiness never affected my comfort during the day.
It’s amazing what a quick face wash, a ‘shower in a can’ and some clean clothes can do.
A rucksack is the default choice. You can fit a shirt and trousers in there, along with your lunch and anything else you might need for work. OK, on hot days like today, you might end up with a sweaty back but that shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve worn a wicking top and have clean clothes to change into.
If sweaty-back-syndrome is enough to put you off, then think about fitting panniers to your bike. It’s a more efficient way of carrying loads anyway, and there are some great commuter options out there. If you are lucky enough to own a Brompton, their bikes are kitted out for various luggage options. You can mount a professional looking shoulder bag on the front which would be smart enough for most offices.
5. Just do it
The first time you change any part of your established routine will feel strange. I remember walking across the open plan floor of my office for the first time carrying my Brompton, feeling like thousands of eyes were staring at me – as if they knew I’d forgotten to pack my trousers. Once you’ve done it for a week, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to get into the office the old, unreliable way.
It’s a talking point too – I found people who had never spoken to me before became interested in my commute. Just goes to show we all secretly crave more adventure in our lives!
However you decide to mix up your commute, just make sure you do.