November 24, 2017

A new commuting challenge?

For the entirety of my bicycle commuting life I've relative ease regarding the logistics of handling clothing.  My personal preference is to ride in full kit and change into fresh clothing when arriving at the office, so, having a place to dry the clothes from the ride has always been a consideration.  To date, I have enjoyed a large cubicle with high walls and a bookshelf/cabinet arrangement, as shown in the photo below.  Repurposing the metal brackets normally used to hold up shelving, a simple clothes line arrangement emerges, made from small-gauge speaker wire and wooden clothespins.  out of frame sits a desk fan, and voila!  A self-contained closet for drying cycling layers. 

From the outside of the cubicle the contents are fully concealed, and since the office is well ventilated and low-humidity everything is usually dry within an hour of hanging, and then quickly put away for the ride home later in the day.  Smells?  Not likely - although, sometimes sweat stinks, it's usually when sweat-laden clothing is left to dry unventilated (put away wet) that the "funk" can arise.  So, quickly washing things once they reach home in the evening, trying to tender one's efforts in the morning, and quickly getting clothes out of the bag and onto a clothesline after the morning ride is critical to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention at work. 

For me, being able to fly under the radar is critical:  I don't want to be the guy that smells, or the guy that has a bunch of smelly cycling gear strung across his desk.  Due to a recent office remodel, however... this is becoming harder to avoid.

The old set-up - a luxury, for sure.  Contained, concealed, and comfortable.  I miss it.  A lot.

I have to wear the full kit and dry things at work.  I'm just too fast.
(this is actually a GPS app error (duh), which gives me a giggle every time I stumble across it)

Out of full visual context, it's difficult to envision what this shot represents; but, this is the underside of our new "wall-less" desks.  They are height-adjustable (motorized), and pretty nice, honestly - but, there's literally nowhere to hang my clothes anymore - at least, not in a concealed fashion.  The simple clotheslines deployed between the desk's underside supports works - but, the fact that I'm hanging clothes underneath is impossible to hide.

Now, in order to create a more open, collaborative, and energy-efficient workspace, the cubicles I've been using as a crutch for the majority of my riding-to-work life are gone.  In their place are open desks with very little storage space; and, well, it's been difficult to establish a good routine.  My neighbors - all non-cyclists - are really, really close by.  One has already commented on the clothesline under my desk in a less-than-thrilled manner, and, well, that puts doubt into my head.  Also in the entirety of my working life, I've only come across a small scattering of like-minded bicycle-to-work people.  One, "Crowbar" is nearly as consistent as I am.  The others - well, there's only perhaps three others in our building who sporadically ride to work.  Across the office complex, I can imagine that number is about the same per-building; maybe 4-5 per building tops at any given time; and that's only during the peak riding months for our area, based on the seasons.  For anyone to "understand" our situation is rare; so, I don't expect much understanding from building managers and co-workers.

Surprisingly, however, the facilities managers have offered up a large, pretty much unused coat closet, which is a decent option... for me.  If anyone else wanted to take advantage of it, it would start to get tight and crowded - but, it's better than nothing if someone really takes issue with my plan to continue hanging clothing under the desk.  But, as I tend to do - I try to plan for every scenario, and often worry about scenarios that never present themselves.  What comes naturally for minimizing risk tends to have me overthinking people's reactions before giving them a chance to react for real.  So, having said that, I just need to start showing up at the office, early, and hanging up my clothes... and handling fallout if and when it happens.  I already have a plan "B" and "C", but, I'd rather have my stuff nearby.

The internet, thankfully, is loaded with ways to get around some of the challenges I'm facing with regards to riding to work.  I've had to step out of the sunshine of my comfort zone and rethink some of the ways I've made a success out of bicycling to work.  I don't plan to stop.  It's a great opportunity to face the challenge and see how things shake out.  Workplaces need to understand the needs of those who don't choose the easy route of automotive transportation, and - from an advocacy standpoint - it's each of our jobs to support what we believe in.

So, stay tuned... yes, this blog was founded on commuting to work by bicycle, and while the last several years have focused on randonneuring, this topic still deserves attention.  I have a feeling that more of bicycling-to-work population has to deal with not-so-accommodating conditions, so, this just brings me in line with that majority.  If I come up with any groundbreaking discoveries or insights, look for them in future posts.

Until then... let's go ride; no matter the destination!

Thanks for reading!

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