Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Name My Blog contest and Continuing Thoughts on Bicycle Commuting

OK, I'm just about managing a "Weekly DeBlass," but that doesn't have the same ring to it, so I'd I'm asking you for suggestions on what to name the blog. The winning suggestion will get... um... to pick the name of my blog (sorry, I don't really have anything good to give away at the moment!)

In other news, high gas prices and a continually unreliable vehicle (it is technically drivable, but the transmission is acting up, so I've left it in the driveway the last few weeks until I get a good diagnosis and raise the funds to fix it), I'm doing almost all of my traveling by bicycle lately. Since I'm pretty severely underemployed, it's not too much of a hardship for me, most of my trips are under 10 miles each way.

As I mentioned before, my current ride is the first bike I've had in a while that isn't a "sport" style. It's definitely a utility bike with no pretense towards racing. In keeping with that, I've decided that instead of either the lycra look or the wanna-be messenger style, I'm just going to ride in regular "people clothes." With the generally cool early spring weather, it's actually been pretty comfortable to cruise around in khakis and light windbreaker, and as it gets warmer I'm shifting towards shorts and polo shirts. I'm still sticking with flat pedals and regular street shoes as well. In addition to being able to get off my bike and walk around the supermarket without feeling the constant urge to blurt out "I'm bicycle commuting" to everyone I see, I feel like riding in regular, even slightly preppy-ish, street clothes helps do a bit for cycling advocacy by sending the message that bicycling is a normal form of transportation that doesn't require special gear or athletic discipline.

There's a lot of information on the internet that addresses cycling as transportation, and even a few blogs devoted to bike-related fashion. Among this you can find a lot of discussion on fabric choices (lightweight wool seems to be tops for quick-drying/not-smelling-funny), the length and cut of pants, less-geeky looking helmets, etc. But amid all this information on non-sports bike wear the blogosphere seems to be strangely silent on one particular topic: underwear. Anyone who's ever pedaled a modest distance on a humid day can understand how one's choice in skivvies can have a dramatic affect on one's comfort level, but it seems very hard to find anyone who's willing to say "hey, wear these and they won't chafe/bunch/feel like you dredged them out of the Everglades when by the time you get to work."

I'm debating on whether I want to chronicle (sans illustrations, thank you) the results of my own research into the topic or not. On one hand, I would be providing useful information and leading an important discussion, on the other, I don't know if I'm ready to surrender the tiny bit of dignity I have left.


Eric said...

While nowhere near a quorum, the people I've spoken to on this topic usually respond "I wear my bike shorts under the slacks."

Neil said...

Jockey makes some pretty awesome seam-free boxer brief "athletic" underwear, but it's expensive. (I bought a bunch of it back when I had money.)

Matt DeBlass said...

I've tried the bike-shorts-under-slacks thing and never really felt comfortable with it for more than a couple hours. I wonder, however, if unpadded bike shorts would work better (still seam-free and breathable, but without the "diaper" feeling when walking around).
I'll check out the jockey stuff, maybe if I can only afford a pair or two I can get by, since I'm not working every day at this point, and usually have time to do laundry between. I've got some from EMS and just picked up some by Champion... well, it looks like I'm going to be writing about this after all. Damn

Ana said...

Why not "Blasts from DeBlass"? Speaks to the (unfortunately) sporadic nature of the posting.

Living in Northern NJ, I know very few people who use bicycles to commute (it's either cars or public transit... occasionally taking a car TO public transit...) So-- stay safe out there!

Neil said...

@Ana - Speaking as one who grew up there, the state of the roads are in northeastern NJ is pretty sad; they're basically laid out to get people into NYC and the malls.

You can bike commute there, but it involves a lot of roundabout clever routes.