Getting Ready

Rolling out regularly on an early morning commute requires preparation, at least for me. I pack my panniers the night before at least mostly. Both panniers are waterproof and that allows me a lot of flexibility. The panniers are Novara brand from REI that I picked up a while back on closeout. They no longer offer them. They are similar to these Ortlieb panniers.

One pannier has the things I need in the gym to shower and change and the other requires the things I need in the office. I have the luxury of leaving the pannier I don’t need on the bike. Security has not been an issue at work. I don’t lock my bike while I am in the gym and I even leave a bag with a laptop and iPad on the bike while I shower.

The night before I fold my pants in half, fold a shirt so it is the width of the pants and roll them up with the shirt in the middle. I place that in a camping stuff sack that has my security badge and two leg bands in the bottom. Then I add socks and underwear to the top and cinch it closed. It goes in the gym pannier on top of two spare tubes and a repair bag. Most days I place some shoes to wear during the day on top of that. While this does allow me to wear fairly nice clothes if I want, I actually wear jeans, a casual shirt/sweater and sneakers most days. This bag can be completely packed at night although I usually wait to zip it closed until morning.

The office bag is only partially packed at night. Usually I am either charging the iPad or using it to read a book at bed time. So it is added to the pannier in the morning. But the laptop is shutdown, in a sleeve and in the pannier when I go to bed. I use a small zippered bag that came with a laptop backpack to hold pill bottles, glasses case, wallet, nail clippers, USB drives, etc. That is mostly packed but I often add my glasses in the morning, zip it close and drop it in the office pannier.

My cycling clothes are also laid out at night. What I wear depends on the weather of course. This morning was 41 degrees and drizzly. I wore:

  • bike underwear, 
  • Novara Headwind pants (currently I can only find the women’s model), 
  • a Layers brand (they may not exist anymore) long sleeve base layer shirt, 
  • my Pearl Izumi Slice rain jacket (similar to the current Quest Barrier), 
  • Sock Guy 2 Mile Challenge crew socks,  
  • SmartWool hiking socks
  • GoreTex hiking boots
  • long finger cycling gloves 
  • a close fitting fleece cap. 

Occasionally I bring a short sleeve shirt to wear riding home or an extra top layer for the morning.

Getting all ready at night helps me ride in the morning and cuts down on how long it takes. What kind of routine do other people have?

  • will1

    I may or may not have covered this here before, but this is an appropriate place to go over it either way. So…

    My prep is often done ahead of time so I can get out quickly in the mornings. On the weekend, I will select five outfits for the upcoming week and pack them in Space Bags. I will either grab one of these off of the top of the stack eack morning (or evening before, if I’m industrious) and toss it in the messenger bag. If I have room (or have to drive for whatever reason), I’ll take in multiple outfits and keep them in a filing cabinet at work. As for shoes, I keep a brown pair and a black pair in my office along with a reversable belt so I can always coordinate with whatever outfit I grab for the day. (I also keep an emergency pair of jeans, shirt, socks, and towel in the office, just in case I get caught in an unexpected rainstorm on the way in).

    I’ll also package my lunch for the next day or three (depends on how many leftovers we have) the night before work so I can just grab one (or more if I have room) to toss in the bag and take to work. If I’m thinking, I’ll also fill a water bottle ahead of time. I eat my breakfast at work, after the commute; however, its prep and packaging vary greatly depending on what I’m eating that week. Other than my food and clothes, I will also set out anything odd that I need to bring in the next day (coffee beans or filters, clean coffee mug, ibuprofin, etc.) otherwise I will never remember to pack it the next day.

    I will occasionally lay out my clothes for the ride the night before, but this is usually done in the summer when I know ahead of time that the weather will be hot in the morning and even hotter in the afternoon. In the winter, things are less predictable, so I usually form an idea of what I’m wearing in my head and I modify it in the morning based on the weather forecast when I roll out of bed.

    After I get up, I immediately check the weather forecast before I even get out of bed (go go gadget iPhone!), and make any mental adjustments that I need to make. Then I get up and might start breakfast cooking if I need to, or I might shower if I didn’t do it before bed. Then it’s on with whatever clothes I’m wearing for the ride (or 70% of it in the winter so I don’t get too warm too soon), let the dogs out, make the big dog his breakfast, package my breakfast if I just made it, pack everything in the messenger bag, and make sure I also have my wallet and work badge, the only other things I take in on a regular basis (90% of the time, the wallet and lanyard stay in the zippered pocket of my bag and the badge itself is clipped to the bag’s strap).

    Once the bag is packed, I’ll put on the rest of my winter clothes (if it’s winter), put on my jacket and shoes, strap on the bag, put my phone in the pouch I have velcroed to my bag’s strap, put on my headband and glasses, then put on either helmet A or helmet B depending on if I need the headlight that day, then put on weather appropriate gloves, grab my bottle, and I’m out the door.

    As for winter clothes, here’s what I wore on Friday when it was in the mid 20s for the morning ride. I had base layer top and bottom, bib shorts, woll tights, short sleeve and long sleeve jerseys with a pullover top over those, two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, headband, balaclava, shoes, and my Batman jacket (Hincapie Kevlar). Yowza! About half of that rode home in the bag when the temps went up to 55 for the ride home.