Prevention is better than cure. Try to avoid becoming soaked in the first place by using full-length mudguards, waterproofs, and overshoes.
You can sidestep the problem of drying out gear by storing some old cycle clothing at work. The most important items are the layers that go next to your skin – socks, gloves, shorts/tights, and jersey – along with a couple of plastic bags. These go over your dry socks before you put your feet in your wet shoes. You can then take your wet kit home and dry it there for tomorrow’s commute.
Wringing, wicking & tumbling
When clothing is so wet that it needs wringing out, the most effective way to do so is with a towel. Lay the garment or garments on a large towel. Roll the towel over with the clothing inside so that you’ve got a sort of tube. Put a foot on one end, then lift the other and twist it round and round until you can twist no further. This will squeeze out as much water as possible.
Shoes dry quicker with something to wick the moisture from the inside. Scrunch newspaper into loose balls and stuff a couple in each shoe. The moisture will transfer to the paper. If the newspaper gets too damp, replace it.
An alternative to newspaper, which will also help deodorise your wet shoes, is cat litter. This is more practical to use at home. Put a fist-sized amount in a thin sock or (better) old nylon tights. Then put this in your shoe.
Tumble drying is a quick but energy-inefficient way to dry clothing. The odds of having a dryer at work are low, and tumble drying can damage some synthetics; check the label. If there’s a nearby launderette, that might be an option.
Hung out to dry
Direct heat can damage cycling gear, particularly helmets, which are made of plastic and polystyrene, and shoes, which will stiffen up and possibly crack. Don’t put them on, or even too close to, a heat source.
Gloves and hats dry out well on top water-filled central heating radiators. Don’t put them on top of electric ones for obvious reasons. Other gear is best hung near the radiator or other heat source, where air can get at it.
The smell and drips of drying kit may be an issue in an office environment; old wet shoes can smell like a cat has weed in them! (Solution: cat litter, as above.) If it’s a problem, speak to your manager about where else you can store your drying kit. Maybe there’s a boiler room you could use?
If there’s a few of you cycling to work, and particularly if you’re organised into a Bicycle User Group, you could ask for small room or cupboard to be set aside for cyclists and equipped with pegs, washing lines, and a dehumidifier. This works best if the dehumidifier is plumbed in, as it then won’t need emptying of water, and if the floor has tiles or lino.
Ready to improve your commute?
Tyres that are too soft spoil the way a bike rides and make punctures likely. Pumping them up now and again is an essential job.
You don’t need to look like a racer for the journey to work. Normal clothing is fine – as long as your bike is properly equipped.
It’s colder, darker, and wetter, but cycling to work can still be the highlight of your day if you have the right equipment and attitude.