The best cycling-to-work tips from Chatelaine staffers

Because no one wants to arrive to the office a hot, sweaty mess.

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Who says women don’t ride their bikes to work? Well, Margaret Wente, for one. In a recent Globe and Mail column titled “Where are all the female cyclists?” Wente wrote, “I know why women don’t cycle to work…. It’s the sweat. How, exactly, are you supposed to arrive at your job fresh-smelling and well-groomed after a hot ride in July? It’s not possible. Presumably the answer is to stuff your work clothes in your backpack, towel yourself down in the ladies’ room, and reapply your makeup before that 9 a.m. meeting. Which still doesn’t address the problem of helmet head.” Not possible, you say? Challenge accepted.

Quite a few of us at Chatelaine do indeed ride our bikes to work — and we consider ourselves a relatively fresh-smelling and well-groomed bunch. We also aren’t willing to sacrifice safety for style (wear your helmets, kids). So how do we do it? Read on for our best cycling-to-work tips.

cycling-to-work-tips
Helmets on!

“Bike helmets are a necessary evil. I resisted wearing one for a really long time because it just wasn’t cute. Now I own a sparkly number that makes me happy every time I put it on. I’m also a big advocate of bike shorts! American Apparel makes a pair with lace along the hem, so they look cute even when they’re peeking out from under your skirt.” — Nicola Hamilton, senior designer

“No one sees me until I’m at the office, so I bring my makeup kit and apply at work. I do the full treatment: concealer, BB cream, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, blush, powder. I’m 40 now, and my face takes some doing. It’s exactly what I’d do at home, but in a nifty travel-pouch that fits in my purse!” — Claire Tansey, food director

“I always carry a can of Batiste dry shampoo in my handbag. I spray it on about 15 minutes after I get to the office, after I have acclimatized to the air-conditioning. It solves any sweat concerns.” — Vanessa Wyse, creative consultant

“I take the side roads and cut through neighbourhood streets rather than the more direct main roads. It’s more chill and you avoid trucks, buses and other hazards. Plus it feels less like a commute to work and more a leisurely morning ride. When I get to work I feel more relaxed and ready than I do taking the subway or even driving.” Rose Pereira, senior associate art director

“I have a cycling outfit: compression shorts and a tank top. I wear my sports bra and bring a change of underwear (nobody likes sitting in sweaty undies) along with my work outfit. I have a cycling-specific backpack so my ride is ergonomical. I also give myself extra time in the morning so I am not booking it to the office and arriving a total sopping mess.” Laura Brown, managing editor

“Keep the following at your desk: deodorant (you will need a top up on those super humid days), a spare bra (for the days you forget to pack one with your office clothes), hair backup (anti-frizz treatment, hairspray, bobby pins, sock bun) so you can put some life back into that helmet head.” — Nadine Silverthorne, senior manager, consumer publishing, digital product

“Bike shorts all the way. Slip them on under your work dress or skirt, and take them off when you get to the office. I also leave my hair wavy and semi-damp from the shower, then when I take it out of my helmet, I just tousle it a bit with my fingers — I’m all for embracing the helmet hair.” Alexandra Gater, assistant editor

“I only ride in a separate (sportier) outfit if it’s really hot (above 30) or if I’m wearing an outfit that’s not cycling-friendly. But I have a selection of summer biz-cas shoes at my desk to change into when I arrive, as I ride in running shoes for stability. I don’t apply moisturizer in the morning before I ride because it sweats off. I apply moisturizer at night instead.” — Dominique Lamberton, associate editor

“I have a pair of simple white bike shorts that doubles as a half-slip when I wear them under skirts. Black or nude-coloured ones would work just as well.” — Diana Duong, assistant editor

“I always bring a change of clothes and if they get wrinkled, I use the steamer in our style closet. It’s a god-send. I highly recommend getting a small, portable one for your office. I also have a bottle of sea hairstyling spray to spritz on when I get to work — it turns helmet hair into beachy waves.” — Carley Fortune, managing editor, digital

Related:
Essential cycling gear, including the cutest bike ever
Why cycling is an amazing way to get in shape
Canada’s six best bike trails worth pedalling for