How this professional commutes to work via bicycle.
Catherine LLeras Montage

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08.03.2015

How this professional commutes to work via bicycle.

Catherine LLeras Montage

 

Happy International All-Women's Day!  I have a great post to honor this day which was created per request of Laura, of Grease Rag Ride & Wrench. They saw some social media postings that I had done about bike commuting to a professional work setting & asked me if I’d be interested in sharing my tips with others.

Would I?????!!!! I felt like a star struck teen being asked to dance onstage at a concert (you should be visualizing Courtney Cox with Bruce Springsteen right about now).

Seriously, the Grease Rag Ride & Wrench is this amazing group in St. Paul & Minneapolis who “encourage and empower women/ trans/ femme (WTF) cyclists in a collaborative and fun learning environment through rides, discussions, shop nights and educational seminars in a safer space.”

In summary, they rock.

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This is how I show up to my job. I am the Spa Director for Haus Salon - a high end salon and spa.

Now, I know what you’re thinking “Oh, she has tons of hair & makeup stuff at her disposal to get ready with.”

Let me tell you, the answer is a big ‘ol giant ‘NO.’ Although I have incredibly supportive employers, I absolutely do not get to use the salon space or it’s supplies to get ready (no one wants to see my sweaty head bent over a shampoo sink when they’re paying for a $50-$150 haircut).

 

 

 

I wanted to include an image of my typical winter gear/supplies that I have. The day of this picture was my normal 7 mile commute in to work with a -5 degree Farenheit temperature.

 

  1. Two paniers attached to my bike rack.
  2. base layer (that is almost always soaked through w/ sweat cause I still over layer on a regular basis).
  3. Mid layer(s) based on weather.
  4. Showers Pass coat (love this, it’s thin & has served all this winter).
  5. Showers Pass Wind Pants (by far my favorite item).
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  7. Gloves.
  8. Neck warmer.
  9. Helmet (the one shown here is my Snowboarding helmet, which I like because it keeps me warm w/out having to layer a thick hat under it).
  10. Wicking socks.
  11. Wicking cap.
  12. Lastly, the most important item, my thermos of coffee. I want my hot coffee ASAP when I arrive in.

 

20150227_091643I get ready in my spa room. At my last job that I bike commuted to I used a bathroom in a similar fashion. A real bonus that I have in my spa room is that while it was being built new, I asked my employers if they would build a closet in it for me; which they did!

It’s not as large as a standard size, but I’ve created a system to make it work for me. In this picture, you can see that I’ve attached clips inside the door to hang up all of my smaller items to dry (gloves, socks, face masks, etc).

These are the first things that I hang up when I arrive. I keep my work shoes & some work clothes in here, too. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m figuring it out as I go along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, I hang up my outer clothes to dry while I get ready. I sweat a LOT when I work out, like, a serious amount of sweat (blame my faulty thyroid, I guess). How much?  Here's a short story:

When I was dating my husband, my friend heard we were going biking for our 2nd date.  She warned me about the warm weather forecasted for that evening & had concern about my infamous sweat marks having a negative impression on this blossoming relationship.  I'm happy to report, my husband was unphased by my overactive sebaceous glands.

To combat my sweating issue, I use wicking materials such as the Patagonia brand (another company working towards sustainability). I love these products because they are created for high performance lifestyles and are made with quick drying fabrics. Basically that means that I can wear them, sweat, sink wash them if needed, hang them, and they'll be clean and dry in time for me to wear home at the end of my work day.

 

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Since I shower in the evenings when I get home from work, I can quickly do a sink clean up to start my day after biking in. I wash my hair in the sink, or at a minimum, rinse it with water (due to the aforementioned sweating issue).

 

 

 

 

 

This is my makeshift vanity (it’s a hand mirror on top of my Wax Pots).

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…who beat all the drivers in who are stuck waiting for the traffic not to stall?”

 

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I use N4 (pronounced Number Four) Hair Care Products & One Love Organics Skin Care - (two high quality product lines) because they are both *vegan, organic, and sustainable in that they are very concentrated. This means less consumption which also equates to less packaging waste and transportation footprints.  I love that I work for a company where I can purchase both of these product lines.

*Please note, the One Love Organics skin care line has 1 non-Vegan product:  the Skin Savior Balm, as it contains Beeswax.

 

 

 

I do not haul my hair & makeup supplies daily.  Instead, I keep this container at work that holds my brushes, hair products, hair dryer, skin care products & makeup.

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I then get ready. I usually rock out to MPR news while drinking my coffee…

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By the time I’m done getting ready, my clothing is dry. I throw everything in my closet & shut the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I realize not everyone has a closet available to them, but I’ve seen some portable closets that are very budget friendly. You can get them at stores like Target or, of course, online. These may be a possibility for some worth looking into.

 

 

I’m ready to start my day!

 

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Catherine’s Bonus Tips:

  • I keep my personal care routine minimal.
    • For makeup, I intentionally use my collection of bold eye glasses as my ‘eye makeup’, so that I only have to fill in my brows & put some mascara on. Then, I accent my lips. A little concealer under the eyes & light powder or foundation. Boom. Done. My makeup routine takes 5-7mins. A great tip: pick one thing to accent. Eye makeup typically takes longer to do than a lip color, so if you choose lips, you''ll save yourself 5-10mins of prep time.
    • Regarding my hair, I cut it shorter the moment I decided that I would be bike commuting, again. For me & my hair texture, I find that short hair work best for biking. Having short hair, I can wash & dry it quickly; as well as style it easily. I keep my hair in the back cut up pretty short & retain more length in the front (hmmm...I guess that's a reverse-mullet, huh?). It's a personal thing, but that front length keeps it feeling feminine for me. Since I subscribe to the motto of, 'if I can't see it, neither can you...', it is just best that the back of my head requires no styling tools other than my hands & a blow dryer.
  • Ask your employer for support in your bicycle commuting needs. They may say ‘no’, but they may also say ‘yes’. I asked for a closet, & they were kind enough to give it to me. Maybe your employer would allow you access into the building to arrive early & have privacy to get ready before anyone else arrives or possibly they know of a spot to store/hang your stuff/put a portable closet in, etc.
  • If you have a car, you could reserve one day of your work week as a driving day. Up until just 2 weeks ago, I utilized this system of driving one work day/week. I used this driving day to bring in my clean clothes for the following work week, take home my dirty stuff, bring in extra meals to store in freezer, etc. A doctor I once met used this same system to switch out his suits, wrinkle-free, for each week.
  • I do not have a work uniform, but I’ve created my own personal ‘uniform’ for my biking ease. I almost always wear black slacks, black layered tops, black socks & black shoes (ummmm….I work in salon setting, big surprise). But, the reason that I do this is so that I can wear similar or the same clothing repeatedly without it being noticeable. I then use accent pieces to adjust my outfits & to add a little bit of my personality into the mix (necklaces, my different eye glasses, pins, broches, scarves, belts, etc). These accent pieces are tiny & I can easily transport them on my bike. I have two different pairs of black shoes that I alternate between, & these are both stored at work so that I don’t have to transport them.
  • Individuals with medium or long hair can use some dry shampoo powder at the roots to soak up sweat & then pull it back into a polished looking ponytail, braid or bun or diffuse-dry/air dry if their hair has curls. This Hair Powder is AMAZING for non-shampoo days & contains light, non-synthetic aromas for those who dislike having 'dirty hair smell'. How you style your hair post biking really depends upon each person's cut, length & texture; as well as how much time you want to dedicate to it. Like I said, I prefer ease regarding my hair, so I find it's more beneficial in my life to sport a sassy shorter cut rather than struggle on a daily basis with styling more length. But, for someone else, length may not be a challenge.

 

I found some other images on the web that show how wrapping a piece of hair around your hair binder takes a yoga-pants-day ponytail to office professional ready! Also note the minimal makeup look with a pop of color on the lips. Yeah.

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Here's a great image I found of a professional looking bun. Note, once again, the minimal amount of makeup. Here, it's the brows that are accented (huge thumbs up from me, as a Brow Shaping Specialist), the eyes have a small amount of eye liner/shadow and then the lips are nude. Beautiful.

 

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Aaaaaand, man buns are all the rage right now. I adore them!

 

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I hope that this post may have given you some ideas or tips that aids you in adopting bike commuting as a piece of your life towards living sustainable. Happy Biking!!!!

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