Successful bicycle commuting requires a little planning in the humid, DC Metro area. Luckily UMD makes it easier with a shower pass to facilities in Ritchie and Eppley Recreation Center.
Consider biking in your work clothes:
The University of Maryland has a relaxed dress code in most offices. Plan your first bike commute on a Friday when standards are even more lax. In many offices you can get away with a Terrapin jog set. Many cyclists find that if they bring a washcloth and immediately wipe away any sweat bacteria has no chance to grow. Also buying a pannier (saddlebags) for your bike avoids the sweat stain that a back pack can leave on your back yet allows you to carry items such as your laptop or other gear.
Bring a change of clothes:
If your position requires more professional attire or your commute is just too long to avoid sweating, use a roomy backpack or purchase a pannier attachment for your bike to carry a change of clothes. (A local retailer, REI has them in their shop on Rhode Island Avenue and online (http://www.rei.com/category/4500848) and make sure that you do not overstuff your bag. Carefully roll up your clothes and they should remain wrinkle free for a short trip. See Fodor’s website for more detailed tips on wrinkle-free packing: http://www.fodors.com/news/story_1449.html
To get a Commuter Shower Pass:
Contact Lawrence Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, he will arrange for a time for you to come and get your ID card. After that the front desk staff will admit you for the use of the locker rooms. Please let the biking community know about your experience with the showers by writing email@example.com.
If you are going to bring your work clothes, it still pays to put a little thought into what you are going to ride in. If you are comfortable in traditional cycling gear, you will find many stores that specialize in it. However, special wicking fabrics such as that found in yoga clothes or running clothes also works well. The key to comfort is breathability.
Many cyclists wear padded pants. Before you run out and buy them it is worth it to get your bike properly fitted. Seat tilt and position can make a big difference in terms of comfort. For short trips less than 10 miles long you may find that it makes enough of a difference that you do not need special pants.
As you know, DC is very humid and it is possible to sweat sitting still in the shade. As I mentioned previously breathable or natural fibers go a long way towards improving comfort. Despite 6 months of steamy weather we get our share of rain and snow as well. It is a good idea to dress in layers with a good pair of riding gloves to preserve your grip in wet or cold weather. Many cyclists find that a wool sweater keeps them warm while allowing air to get to their skin which is sweating due to exertion. Layers also accommodate for temperature differences for each leg of your commute. It can be cool in the morning and muggy in the evening.
Alternatives: Shuttle-UM and Guaranteed Ride Home
If the weather is just too bad to bike home, remember that Shuttle-UM has bike racks on every bus. Many WMATA buses also have bike racks and DOTS also participates in the Guaranteed Ride Home Program. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about your eligibility for this program.