Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cycling Shorts: Care and Rotation

The process of laundering padded bicycle shorts has confused me for as long as I've worn them. Over the summer I cycled pretty much every day, which meant having to wash the one pair of shorts I owned every night (the shorts were wool, but the chamois still had to be washed). After several months of this the shorts looked like they'd been dragged through the hedge backwards, and I am sure the frequent washing and wringing caused this at least as much as the wear. The same happened in the fall/winter season with my synthetic tights. I've tried different techniques, washing by hand in the sink in the most gentle manner possible. I also try to wash just the chamois area and not the entire short, which speeds drying time and decreases wear on the rest if the fabric. Now that I have a new pair of special club-embroidered shorts, I don't want them to meet the same fate as my old ones. Is there a special soap I'm supposed to use? Is there a way to dry the shorts overnight without wringing them out?

The other day I received the packing list for CORPSCamp - my upcoming 5 day trip to Death Valley - and this list says to pack 5 pairs of cycling shorts. As in, one for each day. I was kind of shocked to see that, and suddenly felt like that kid at school who gets made fun of for wearing the same outfit every day. Are you seriously telling me that cyclists own that many shorts? What about the people I ride with who always wear their club's kit - do they own multiple pairs of identical shorts, so it just looks like they're wearing the same thing?.. The logistics are mystifying.

So let me ask this straight out: Assuming you are a roadcyclist, how many pairs of bicycle shorts do you have in rotation at a time? And how do you launder them?

83 comments:

  1. I have at least five pair of shorts and I wash them after every ride. I suppose you could go with some nice wool shorts, then you might only need two or three pair.

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    1. I've got wool shorts. A pair of Ibex shorts and a pair of Ibex knickers. The chamois still need to be washed every day though. For a woman to wear that stuff twice without washing is a good way to get a UTI or yeast infection.

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    2. MelissatheRagamuffinMarch 1, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      Don't you wear drawers?

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    3. Under padded bicycle shorts on a roadbike? No, and you aren't "supposed" to, b/c the panty lines irritate. The shorts are designed to be work with nothing underneath. YMMV of course.

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  2. I definitely don't own a pair for every day of the week! I have 2 pairs that I alternate between for my daily ride to work and rinse just the chamois area until the weekend when I do a full wash/air dry.

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  3. I've got at least a couple dozen, but I've been racing since 1997 (one team gave us several new kits every year). I probably use less than 10 regularly. I launder them in the washing machine with gentle soap and hang them to dry. They don't dry overnight, however.

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  4. I have about 5 shorts in rotation, and wear each one twice prior to laundering. Being a guy, I am not fastidious and simply chuck them in with the house laundry. I have a good amount of shorts because I not only have general purpose black ones, but also a few "team kit" shorts/jersey matching ensembles.

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  5. I have two but that is only because I lost weight and the original pair doesn't fit as well. The loose ones are what I use on rides that are long enough to justify shorts but short enough to not need the nicer and better fitting ones.

    I try to always wear a clean pair but I do not fret if the "dirty" ones were only worn for a short ride.

    Also, I found that almost all of my cycling clothes dry very quickly. That is probably because of the fabric. However, if I am worried about them drying, I put a fan in front of them. Moving air dries things out significantly faster. (I am an engineering PhD student and I have put too much thought into the reasons for this).

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  6. I'm glad you asked this question! I needed to see these answers. :) My method, up until now, has been to throw in the washer, hang to dry. I'll have to experiment now...

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  7. In the winter I tend to wear the same pair for two or three commuter days - 15 miles a day, or just once if I've done a longer weekend ride - 50+ miles. In summer fresh pair every day. I have about 6 pairs of shorts and three pairs of 3/4's
    Touring I'll take 3 pairs. One on, one dry, one drying.

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  8. I've gone on many week-long tours, and nearly all of us had two pairs of bike shorts, and eveythign else.

    We would hand wash the pair we were wearing, along with cycling socks and jersey, etc. in the shower at our daily destination, and most would hang them on a tree limb ( I always camped) to dry. I always took a 8 foot piece of cord with me to make an improptu clothsline to hang up my shorts, socks and jersey - something that probably won't work in the desert.

    If the stuff wasn't dry by morning, I would put them in the net pocket on my rack trunk to dry and they would generally be dry in a few hours. Other people carried net laundry bags for the same purpose.

    On really long tours we would run eveything through a washer/dryer once a week at a laundrymat.

    I used synthetics, though, which dry quickly.

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  9. Yes, you need several pairs because you ride a lot!

    As for cleaning anything wool, use Woolite with cold water, by hand, in your sink. Lay flat to dry. Your shorts will return the love a lot longer than you describe!

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    1. I've heard that Woolite is Bad: you have had success with it?

      I have a couple of pairs of wool shorts -- got ride of all my Lycra because I didn't like the clammy feeling -- but generally, for rides under 35 miles or so, don't bother with padded nethergarments at all: just cycling pants (+fours, tights) over regular underwear. No problems.

      I do wear wool jerseys and find that the best way to wash is to gently agitate by hand in cold water using Kookabura, then gently squeeze dry -- no wringing! -- and then roll in dry towel and then do the grape juice think on the towel (ie, stomp on it with yer feet). Then hang dry. All of this, requiring a paragraph to describe, takes about 5 minutes to accomplish.

      I also wash many wool jerseys and even wool knickers made from hi quality dress pants in the machine on Delicates with Kookabura; then hang to dry. No problems so far.

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    2. Another fan of Kookaburra here. We have a front-loading machine at home with a "hand-wash" cycle.

      Kookaburra doesn't always get out all the funk, so we add about 1/4 cup of baking soda to our wool loads.

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  10. I also have 5 pairs of bib shorts. However, I only have 2 pairs of 'underwear' bike shorts that I use when riding casually or on tour. I find that with 5 pairs of riding shorts they last a lot longer due to the fact I'm only wearing them once every week or 2 depending how much i'm riding.

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  11. I think wool is your problem. Lovely stuff that it is it doesn't like washing and certainly not wringing. I have about 6 pairs of shorts on the go. In the summer with the longer warmer commutes it's a fresh pair daily. In the Autumn, first the kneewarmers come out which are wool but still the shorts are there washed, maybe every other day as the commute shortens. Winter and the direct commute, a pair of padded longs will run 3-4 days as it's only 6 mile each way.
    Wool gets a wool wash in the machine and dried flat, never wrung.

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    1. My winter tights (synthetic) have gotten similarly ravaged after daily washings, so I don't think it's the wool. Ibex shorts are pretty tough.

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  12. 2 shorts, don't usually wear them so day-after-day is not usually an issue.

    They'll definitely dry fast in Death Valley, but will they have facilities for washing? As to soap, either something liquid (e.g., Dr. Bronners) or something intended for the purpose (e.g., Eucalan, sold at Wild and Wooly just off the MM Trail in Lexington Center).

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  13. What are your new shorts made of?
    The writing looks like "ride studio cafe" :)

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    1. Yes it's Ride Studio Cafe : ) This is the jersey that goes with them. Both are Rapha. The shorts (this is them) are made of a very thin, matte lycra.

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  14. Man, so unsexy!
    Can't believe I'm gonna have to deal with this in less than 2 months.

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    1. What are you doing in 2 months that you have to wear padded shorts?

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  15. HA! I have one pair of bike shorts. I haven't counted how many times I wear them between washings, but sometimes 4-5 times. Smelly and proud!

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  16. PS - if there's bears in the area, unscented soap only (perhaps eucalyptus is okay). And don't underestimate the power of sunlight to kill nasty stuff, if you're willing to turn your shorts inside out and pin them chamois-side-up over your panniers.

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  17. if I am going to be wearing cycling shorts (I will do even 40-60 mile rides in jeans) I just jump into the shower with my shorts on after my ride wash the whole business (me and the shorts) with dr bronners and air dry.

    I did RAGBRAI last year with only one jersey and two pairs of shorts...and by the end of the week no amount of washing could get that jersey clean...also it was in the 98-101 temp range all week and I ended up melting a lot of my clothing. I could totally see why you might want 5 pairs of shorts for a week in death valley.

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  18. Same as above.

    Synthetic shorts - another phobia bites the dust.

    As a side note, the Hell century profile looks a beast. If you get through it without injury I'd be amazed, based upon your training.

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    1. I can wear lycra/spandex, but not polyester. But will see how they do in the summer.

      Yes, the Hell's Gate Hundred looks out of my league. I'll do the best I can, most likely won't finish.

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    2. Injury? Sunburn, sunstroke, sure. In the event of anything bigger than that Death Valley doesn't have a lot of infrastructure.If anything unpleasant happens Chris Kostman is going to be rescue team, paramed, ambulance driver or maybe all three. If he's not doing all that personally, he knows whoever does the job real well. And he's just not going there. Bad karma, bad for business.

      The Hell's Gate trip is more possible and more under control than imagined. Everybody relax.

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    3. Ah, sniped anonymously again.

      Uh, injury as in the process of ramping up to tackle 9k ft. of climbing when base miles have been few and sustained climbs non-existent. It's about the build up more than the ride itself.

      Thanks for your input and chill yourself.

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    4. Lots of different ways to define injury of course, including potential damage from dehydration, pulled muscles and even bruised bottom, all of which is of course possible.

      Before I took a break for a few weeks, I was doing 100-150 miles a week, and I am doing that again now (currently on week 2), so in theory at least that is sufficient as far as base miles go. In practice I am not sure. The climbs are problematic, because we simply do not have 15 mile climbs at 5% grade here, like there will be in Death Valley. I've done 1-2 mile climbs at 10-12% grade, but that is not the same. Doing intervals is not the same either, because on a 15mile climb you don't get a break to go downhill. Anyhow, we'll see. I don't think anybody seriously expects me to finish, so it's more about doing my best. And yes, they have a good support crew so it's unlikely Chris Kostman &Co will let me perish.

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    5. Most common injuries due to under training, ime, are knee pain/tendinitis.

      In theory you have enough base to do a century with a little climbing no problem.

      I don't know what's going on "behind the scenes" with your various consultants but I'd hope a bike with very low gearing, as in a 1:1 gear, is part of the plan to learn how to spin up climbs.

      Sagging is an option, of course. Some day you may want to finish a ride this hard.

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    6. Boy, Jim, you sure seem determined to talk her out of the ride.

      Velouria, near the beginning of me and Shawn's tour, we did our first mountain pass. It was something like 4,000ft elevation gain over 35 miles, I think, I know it was about 4% to 8% elevation for the whole thing. It took us most of the day on our fully-loaded bicycles. The weather was in the 50's F for most of it.

      And it was tiring as hell, and we did a rest day the next day, but we were fine. And I was certainly not really trained enough for it.

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    7. April, quite a poor reading of my comments.

      I believe I was one of the first, if not the first, to encourage road riding here.

      Really, you need to re-read my comments with an open mind before you accuse me of anything further.

      Delete
  19. What may work better than just wringing it out is rolling it up in a towel, pressing some of the water out, then laying flat to dry.

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  20. Perhaps CORPS is backhandedly advising that they have very limited laundry facilities?

    Very few of us have 5 good pairs of shorts. I think I once had that many but it was only because I was an honorary member of multiple clubs and they gave them to me. Can't imagine going out and spending like that.

    You will do fine at Hell's Gate.

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  21. Is it maybe the wringing that causes the issue? Few fabrics like being wrung, and wool probably even less so. My wool stuff I usually put on a big bath towel, roll it up, and step on it to get a good amount of water out of it. Then air dry on the rack.

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    1. Yes, this exactly! I hand wash my cycling and running gear right after I wear it. I don't wring it out, I just squish it, and then roll it in a towel to get the excess moisture out. Not everything dries overnight, but it's close!

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  22. After struggling for too many years with too few shorts, I now own 3 commuting pairs and four that I use for brevets, populaires and training. As they wear, I will toss the commuters, move the riding pairs 'down' the chain and buy new ones. I only wear bibs, btw, as they are way more comfortable. I get my shorts at a discount, on-line store (named for the dreaded bonk).

    As for washing - in a front loading machine, using Sportswash, or something similar and hang to dry. My commuters are worn twice between washes, my riders only once, due to the length of my rides.

    You can never have 'too many' shorts.

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  23. To dry woolens, sweaters, bike shorts, etc., roll them in a towel and squeeze instead of wringing. Then lay flat to dry. There exist sweater dryers for this (a flat mesh stretched over a rack), or use radiators if your house has the large hot-water kind.

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  24. I have 1 pair lycra padded shorts... washed in a frontloader (a modern miracle!) and air dried.
    The frontloader really has reduced wear on clothing and manages keep summer clothes (like swim towels forgotten in kids swim bags) clean.
    I often use a padded saddle, though, so the shorts get 33%-50% duty cycle.

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  25. Umm... I am going to come off as sounding a bit "unwashed" here... I have 2 pairs of bib-shorts (on old, one newer) and one pair of thermal bib-tights for Winter. I ride at least 5 days a week and wash what I am wearing once a week. After a ride, the item in question may be a bit damp from perspiration, so I always hang up my bib-short/tight to air dry. Yes, by the end of the week they are getting to be a little less than fresh, but I have found that if I do not let them air dry (sit in a pile, for example) they get downright funky rather quickly after only one wearing.

    My reasoning for this is that I used to wash my riding bottoms after every ride and the same thing happened to me as happened to you, Veloria... they wore out very quickly. As a result, I wanted to prolong their life since (at around $100 for a decent pair of bibs) they were so expensive.

    As far as washing any/all of my tech/sport gear goes, I use a dye free hypoallergenic detergent in a cold water wash on the gentile setting, and air dry them overnight... I believe wringing them out may be a big factor as well.

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  26. Padded bike underwear under wool shorts. The underwear is less expensive and you can wear the wool shorts several days between washings.

    Vary the type of underwear so the seams won't be touching same areas previously covered. This helps keep the chaffing down and lets previous seam chaffed areas heal. Talcum powder seems to help too.

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  27. I have about 15 pairs of shorts in rotation, but that being said, I work for a manufacturer. Let me tell you this though: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wash every piece of performance wear after every single use. It will actually be more detrimental to your fabrics to wear multiple times between washings and this is why:

    The type of yarn used in performance fabrics (usually polypropylene or something similar) is spun to make it move your moisture away from the skin and out to the ambient air, it has large pockets on the interior of the yarn where the bacteria from your sweat will get stuck. This is why polypro carries such foul odors. If you do not wash your fabrics between each wear the bacteria from your body will start to eat away at the fibers of your fabric and cause them to fall apart faster. The first question I ask people when they say their gloves fell apart in two months is whether or not they ever washed them. Their answer is always no. Wash your stuff after every wear! It will actually last longer.

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    1. Yes i agree...wash your gear after every ride.I cycle lots.
      I have been suffering recurrent skin infections ...boils to be precise.All infections below the waist...so led me to think it was to do with my lycra gear. We all have bacteria on our skin anyway and this nasty staph aureous can have a fun time playing havoc with your hair follicles(thats how the germ gets in) if the conditions are ripe.It only takes one unwashed pair of shorts to allow the staph to begin its nasty work.The more you sweat the more chance you have of getting the infection..
      The lycra harbours germs from your sweat and if you dont wash ..well its party time for those bugs.
      Buy more shorts so you have a clean pair to wear each time...soak them in antibacterial wash before washing.
      Having recurrent boils is a pain in the ar...
      So stay clean and stay safe

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. I buy a couple of pairs every year. Nothing fancy; 60 - 75 dollars. The more you have, the longer they last. I probably have six pair in active rotation. This is an area, particularly for women, where having lots of pairs of ok shorts is better than a few pairs of expensive shorts.

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  30. I have two pair of shorts, two pair of ankle length and a pair of kneewarmers. All are synthetic, they go in the "wol" cycle of our EU washer. Very little soap, little water as compared to US machine. They seem to be doing great.

    All of my wools get washed with human shampoo. I read somewhere that regular soap is too harsh for animal hair and we don't have Woolite over here in NL. We use our finished attic as a drying station and everything gets hung to dry or put on sweater racks. I love it when I sniff a freshly washed wool sweater and it smells like babyshampoo or flowers!

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  31. Another vote for rolling them in a towel then stepping on it. Then air-dry. Gina is an inveterate towel-roller with her woolens, and she's indoctrinated me. It works great!

    As for Death Valley, yes, beware the sun, especially if you're a natural redhead. Also, rattlesnakes. But it is, as I mentioned a few months ago, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

    Sunblock, sleeves, and lots of water.

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  32. MelissatheRagamuffinMarch 1, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I only have 1 pair of padded bike shorts. I have 3 pairs of cheepie Walmart chamois not padded bike shorts which work okay for most of my around town riding.

    I'm gross I only wash my wool cycling pants every two weeks in the winter months - unless I go on a really long ride. But, I wear drawers underneath.

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  33. Kevin MacLachlanMarch 1, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    As a cyclist from the days when all we had were wool shorts I remember the days of hand washing my “woolens” in Woolite at night. I agree that rolling your wool in a towel and not wringing them seems to help the fibers in the long run. They still take a full day to air dry. I would NEVER put my wool shorts in a dryer. And so comes the age of the synthetics! I have 12 pairs of shorts. They can be washed in a machine (on gentle cycle.) and can be tossed in the dryer for a few moments to speed the drying. Some I have had for 6 years and they are still in great shape.
    When I would tour with wool shorts we would turn the shorts chamois side out and let the sundry the shorts and disinfect the chamois. I would guess that this is not an option for you. I do not spend $60-$90 per shorts. I am a thrift store junkie and have found several pair new with the tags still on. It is this way that I have $120 Castelli shorts that I paid $4.95.

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  34. I'm one with 6 pairs of shorts. They were bought over time and replaced as they wore. I have two very new that fit well for weekend rides, two moderately old, and two that are near death. The oldest get thrown out when I buy the next pair.

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  35. I have two pair in rotation when needed, but use one pair primarily. I was a long term user of Café Suds and hand wash only. I'm currently cycling through a variety of other wash care products and occasional machine washing. What I've learned: Multiple rinse cycles is important with most detergents to prevent residual astringent irritation of the skin when riding hot & sweaty. Hang dry in the shade when possible, the low side of the garment can be hand squeezed (not wrung) to speed the drying process if not run through a machine spin cycle. Alternately the garment can be hung on a shower nozzle for the majority of water draining, and then rolled in a towel before hanging to dry indoors. Woolite contains oil that can interfere with the wicking properties of modern technical fabrics, the oil is tenacious, and extra-extra rinsing is required for that product.

    I think you will be fine with rotating two pair, hand wash, drip dry, and use the mesh bag storage suggestion mentioned above if you need to carry the damp garment with you. The unknown is whether you will have energy & motivation remaining after a day(s) in the saddle to perform the task.

    To answer the number of shorts owned, it's several, but the majority are intolerable for more than a few miles.

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  36. "What about the people I ride with who always wear their club's kit - do they own multiple pairs of identical shorts, so it just looks like they're wearing the same thing?.."

    can't speak for others, but yes I own 2 identical pairs of team bib shorts.

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  37. The years I did the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, I had a fresh pair of shorts for each day. So maybe 6 pair? I didn't want the hassle of having to wash out shorts every night. In Georgia humidity, even in early summer, I couldn't be sure that shorts would dry overnight either.

    Of course, back then I was wearing undies AND padded bike shorts, with no noticeable ill effects. But I was a good bit younger then. :)

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  38. When on a tour, I take two pairs of shorts, and wash my shorts each day, using Ivory Snow. After gentle ringing, I roll them up in a towel to remove excess water. They are usually dry by morning (except in really wet places like Ireland). If they are still damp the next morning, I put them in a plastic bag to keep from getting anything else in the pannier wet. They should finish drying by the next day. This is why I take TWO. In a dry place, like death valley you can easily get away with a single outfit, since stuff will dry so quickly. For a tour I also take two jerseys, one light-weight, one medium - usually wool or sportwool. I tend to go a few days between washing jerseys, depending on how smelly they are or tired I am. I use arm and leg warmers to adjust for temperature variations. I always have a rain jacket, handy not just for rain, but cold descents from mountain passes. The reason for taking 5 pairs of shorts is to avoid the nightly washing ritual. For a supported multi-day rides, *some* folks take steamer trunks full of clothing :-( I admit I do own lots of shorts. I've had a few years to build up the inventory. When at home, I usually do laundry on a weekly (not nightly) basis. I wash my good shorts and wool stuff in a front loading washer on the delicate cycle with Ivory Snow. I hang them to dry.

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  39. And apologies for the double comment, but I forgot this:

    Also, those of us who work with wool a lot (handspinners/knitters/weavers) know that Woolite isn't the best detergent to use, as it's a bit harsh. Instead, I use products like Eucalan, SOAK, or Kookaburra Wool Wash. I do spin the water out of my wool garments in the washing machine, rather than wringing them out, but rolling them in a towel and treading on it works pretty well too.

    I have no affiliation with the wool wash products mentioned above. I've just used them all at one time or another washing my sweaters, socks, and handspun yarn.

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  40. I ride 3-4 times a week, mostly for commuting, but also recreationally on weekends. I ride around 300 miles a month. I own 2 or 3 pairs of shorts (none are wool), but I wear the same ones all week and wash once a week. All three (or so) have held up for years. One trick, for shorter rides at least, which I know is a faux pas when it comes to “conventional cycling wisdom” is I wear underpants, that alone keeps the shorts way cleaner than otherwise and unless it is 90 degrees out, they last all week.
    I don’t dry them in the dryer, I hang them and I don’t use fabric softener.
    But then again, I am a guy and taking laundry advice from me is suspect I guess.

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  41. I have 5 pairs of bicycling shorts at any given time, one pair of knickers, one pair of tights and one pair of winter pants. I wash all after only one wear but for the winter pants which are often worn with another layer underneath.

    If I didn't have such a hilly ride to/from work and didn't sweat much, especially in the summer, I might be able to get away with more than one wear. But taking off sweat-soaked gear (yes, wash the gloves regularly too) would be just too smelly and gross for me personally. Not to mention if it's raining how much road grime gets all over the pants or other places, even with fenders.

    I wash all my bike gear with gentle soap, gentle machine wash and air dry most of it. In summer I always dry the stuff outside in the sun - it really does seem to help!

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  42. DO NOT WRING!!! Wringing is the fastest way to wreck clothes, ESPECIALLY wool.
    Lay them flat on a towel, starting from the shorter end of the towel, roll towel and shorts together into a tube. You can then gently step on the towel/shorts tube to get excess water out, then hang to dry.
    I alternate between two sets so one pair isn't bearing the brunt of wash & wear.

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  43. i've bike toured for three months at a time with only one pair of shorts... wash 'em when i can at night by a river...

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  44. I have three pair of lycra shorts (that I normally wearunder a pair of baggie non-cycling shorts ;) ),rotate them out and wash weekly (I don't ride every day,unless the spinal injuries are feeling exceptional). I normally just throw them in the wash on gentle cycle. They aren't wool though...

    The Disabled Cyclist

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  45. I am no pro so I don't have as much inventory as others. I guess the more you can rotate your gear, the longer they will last... What the heck, at the end of a long day, you may not want to be messing around washing stuff

    Side comment: the above picture must be your most uninspiring photo to-date! I suppose laundering isn't the most inspiring of topics however... Are these the shorts that "look as if they have been dragged through the hedge backwards"?

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  46. Bah for commuting in the winter I wear one pair over the 5 day work-week. If it is wet out they are still a bit wet when I go home from work, but I hang them on the heated towel dryer over night. I suppose if I'd put my nose down into them they wouldn't smell great but I avoid that. I wash them over the weekend. I have two pairs of winter tights but which ones I wear depend on temperatures.

    I'd bring two pairs and rotate them between days. Maybe it is worse for women with UTI risk etc, but my guess is 2 pairs would work for you. Bring some detergent and do a hand wash, dry chamois out in the sun. Got to be tough bacteria to take both detergents, drying and UV rays. If washing is a problem content yourself with drying them in the sun.

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  47. BTW, if you start using that chamois creme I saw you with the other day, you will definitely need to wash your shorts quite thoroughly.

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  48. When I was on tour, if the campground had showers, I did it this way: I brought the shorts into the shower with me and washed them with Dr. Bronner's (which is what I washed myself with). Then, I'd roll them up in the towel and stand on it. It was a camp towel, so I'd wring the towel out, then roll up the shorts again and stand on them. I'd find a place to hang them over night and they were dry enough to wear in the morning. I could wear one pair of shorts day after day after day this way. But it was also a pair of synthetic liner shorts, so your mileage may vary. You're sleeping indoors during this trip, aren't you? They should dry just fine overnight in your room. The towel trick is much kinder to your clothes than wringing them.

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  49. At a roadie I have 7 pairs of bib shorts that I rotate through. I try to replace every other year or so. I reserve my best shorts for my longer rides. My more used shorts I reserve for riding the trainer or rollers.

    I wash in the washing machine. During the summer I only wear once before washing. During the winter I use to wear twice, but now that I use chamois butter I only wear once before washing.

    As for tights. I have one pair of padded tights and three pair that are not padded. I normally wear the unpadded tights over my big shorts. In fact my favorite pair of tights is over 25 years old and getting a little thin. Since I wear the unpadded tights over shorts I don't wash them very often.

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  50. Peppy (you said you wanted some holes in the wools, yes?)March 1, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Just leave them to me. I will take care of it.

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  51. I machine wash cold, with all my cycling or hiking items in mesh lingerie bags. All my gear has held up for years this way.

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  52. 3 pairs of shorts got me across the US, but we did laundry every three days, for the most part. If there was no laundromat, we just took them in the shower with us and let it air dry overnight.

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  53. I've tended to hand-wash my lycra stuff, at least I did when I was wearing it a lot. I toss it in the machine now but since I don't wear it so often, that's not a problem.

    Here's a different approach: http://www.fatcyclist.com/2011/09/27/just-the-essentials/

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  54. My son and I were discussing, this morning, what might be the most expensive sport....skiing, golfing, rock climbing, ice hockey, and on and on and it soon became apparent that if one gets seriously involved in any sport these days one has to be willing to put down a serious chunk of change in order to simply keep up. Cycling ranks up there, too! I used to rotate three pairs of shorts, two bikes, many jerseys, etc., and as you may imagine now only cycle in normal clothes, whether for transportation or exercise, on a rather basic bike and truthfully am happier. Hand washing, air drying, and every year or so replacing the worst pair was the grind. Mine were mostly all synthetic materials. Cheapest sport?? Hmm.....Juggling, hacky sack, slack lining, ultimate frisbee, swimming and a few others made the list :) Love your blog!

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  55. Three from performance and one pair of santini bibs I got on sale. I don't wear the bibs very often so it's mostly the three. I wash in cold water and then let them hang dry. They look fine for about two years

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  56. I have two "nice" pairs, and also have four "cheap" bike shorts that I alternate with. I wash after each wear and hang dry.

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  57. I am only a sometime roadie now; but still I own 5-7 pairs and only wear one at a time (and keep the best ones for the long trips)....I do ride bikes frequently but don't need my shorts all the time!

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  58. I like bib shorts the best, way more comfortable.

    Be sure and wash them in cold water. I just let them air dry. If you turn on a fan directed at them this does make them dry faster. With a fan they should be dry over night.

    Hot water or heat from a dryer is what can kill bicycle clothes.

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  59. I've never owned any cycling shorts. I own three pairs of polyester cotton shorts which I wash about once a week.

    On my annual week's touring holidays I only take one pair of my shorts - the one's I'm wearing.

    The only cycling specific clothing I have ever bought are SPD shoes and helmets.

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  60. Have 4 or 5 pair. Wash in the gentle cycle and air dry.

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  61. When it comes to cycle clothing, remember this: Heat Is The Enemy. So, don't use hot water to wash your cycling togs, and don't put them in a dryer--or leave them near a radiator or other heat source. And not using an iron--even on wool shorts--almost goes without saying.

    And use the gentlest soap or detergent you can find. It's kinder to your skin as well as to the garment. Also, I've found that washing with powdered detergents or soaps helps to extend the life of the garment and keep its shape. It's a bit of a pain to mix powders with cold water when you're washing, but it is definitely worth the extra minute or two.

    Four or five pairs sounds about right. When I've gone on loaded tours, I've usually had two or three pairs. At the end of the day's ride, I'd wash whatever I wore in the hotel/hostel/campsite sink and leave it to dry overnight. As often as not, especially when the weather was warm (or dry, as it is in summer in the mountains), the shorts were dry enough to pack or wear the next day. If the chamois was still damp, I'd strap it atop my panniers or rear rack

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  62. I have two pairs in rotation generally, with a 3 back-up pair that's cheaper and ill-fitting, so I try to avoid wearing them. I wash them gently by hand when I shower after a ride, and, depending on how sweaty I got, I usually focus on the chamois, not the shorts.

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  63. nice idea..thanks for sharing....

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  64. re the experience in doing long sustained climbs: I can only speak from my experience, but in my first year cycling I'd built up to club spins of 120km or so with no really long climbs (maybe a couple of km at max, because that's all we've got, and no mad gradients) and yet 6 months after starting I went on a charity cycle to France where (as part of a 6 day cycle) I rode the Col d'Izoard (HC) and the Col du Lauteret (Cat 2) in one day (190km)... on a cheap bike that was really too big for me and weighed a ton. Just got low gearing for it - compact on the front, and mtb rear derailleur and cassette. Did Alpe d'Huez the following day too :-) Go for it!

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  65. I have too many bib shorts, and my wife teases me about it relentlessly. That said, on a trip, two will cover you. You wash every night, towel roll them and hang them. More is just more junk to haul.
    As chief guy in charge of sports laundry (my wife rides too, and does other exercise) I wash cold and always hang dry. Our bathroom looks like a bike clothing shop.

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  66. When I go on a trip, I take two pairs - wash each night and they do dry in 36 hours. One of my favourites for hot summer cycling is an old pair of Castellis which are cotton and lycra and waaay cooler than the synthetic lycra ones. I'm trying to find some more.
    ps I just your Nov.11 2011 post on bike shoes and wanted to add my 2 cents. I ride with zefal mini clips wich are totally safe and still allow lots of power on the uptake, and mtn bike shoes for stiffness and walkability.

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