The cyclist used to be seen as the guy who couldn’t afford a car, was always late for work and was predominantly decked out in sweaty Lycra. These days, it’s more likely he owns a bike that costs more than your car, he’s at his desk before you, bright and alert to boot. In fact, he probably owns the company.
The sweaty Lycra, however – that can still be a problem.
As those that already do so can tell you (and will no doubt do so at any given opportunity), the perks of commuting by work by bike are numerous: you will get fit; you will gain first-hand knowledge of how to navigate around your hometown; you need never grapple with the Northern Line at peak time ever again.
So the Travelcard will be replaced with escalating food costs, but hey – you can eat what you like.
And most importantly, as a man, you get something that has eluded us since everything from cars to computers got super-high-tech and sealed by Apple boffins – a mechanical toy to tinker with, pull apart and put back together and modify piece-by-piece at alarming personal expense.
In short, you will also experience new levels of self-satisfied smugness.
But unless you cycle really slowly or happen to be blessed with an unusually high sweat threshold, you are going to have to accept that you are not going to be able to step off your bike into the office rocking a pristine suit.
Not that it means you have to wear head-to-toe hi-vis, either.
If you’re thinking of cycling to work, and want to look sharp when you get there, here’s 13 things that you need to know (other than the Highway Code, obviously):
1 | How to get there. Obvious, but often overlooked. Handily, Google Maps now offers bike routes.
2 | Where the shower is. Today, most companies are set up for cyclists, but if yours isn’t, it’s worth badgering until it is. A shower is a must, as is somewhere to stash wet towels and clothes. Failing that, you’re going to have to make friends with the nearby gym.
3 | Be seen, be safe is the mantra, but that doesn’t mean turning up for work dressed in community service Day-Glo (remember: cycling is not a crime). Plenty of brands, from British labels Rapha to Howies, make specialist cycling gear with subtle reflective features that are also stylish enough to wear off the bike. A breathable waterproof jacket is mandatory.
4 | Don’t think you have to wear Lycra, either – any old t-shirt will do. So maybe not any old t-shirt, but one you won’t mind getting a bit of grease and muck on. Speaking of which…
5 | You will have to get used to a mounting laundry mountain.
6 | You’re also going to face up to the fact that you will be lugging a helluva load of stuff around with you, and a backpack will only get you sweaty. Think about investing in pannier bags and let the bike do the work for you.
7 | Also, if you want a crisp shirt, think about one of these.
8 | Gloves are a must – if you come off a bike, skin is something you’ll want to keep. Plus in winter your hands will get unbelievably cold without them.
9 | A helmet might scrunch up your hair, but it also might save your head, which is ultimately the better look.
10 | And get two different locks while you’re at it – this makes life a lot harder for would-be thieves (they need two sets of tools to get them off). Always lock both the wheels and the frame.
11 | Pack a spare inner tube and know how to deal with a puncture.
12 | Have a stash of clean socks and pants in your drawer at work.
13 | Take Douglas Adams’ advice for traveller of sorts and always know where your towel is.
Got all that? You’re good to go.