I'm a gear geek. I'll be the first to admit it. I love stuff. And there are certain things that I just can't seem to do without on my daily commute or when I get into the office.
1) iPod/Shure SE215 earbuds - I know. I know. Riding with earbuds in is verboten to so many folks. Sorry, but I have to do it. During the commute I listen to podcasts and during single track rides I listen to music. I'm a one bud in type of guy, and I do try to keep the volume low enough to not hamper my hearing too much. There are some legalities to wearing headphones while riding, but when you're riding every day, it is nice to not have to be too stuck with your own thoughts day after day.
2) Garmin Colorado GPS - Sadly, I use this mostly for the clock so that I can easily keep my eye on the time, since I am always pressed to meet someone else's schedule (bus, work, etc.). I have a watch - this is true. Ever try getting to a watch when it's 20 below zero and it is under 4 layers and the gauntlet of your big arse expedition gloves? Yeah - it's much easier have the GPS for that. And the speedometer is helpful as well when making calculation such as "do I have time to stop in the woods to take a leak?" or "should I stop and pick up a doughnut on the way to the office?" If you know the time, your approximate distance and your average rate of speed, well, you can figure out just about anything.
3) Beat up Fox Digit gloves (summer)/OR Versaliner or Mountain Hardware Liner gloves (Spring/Fall)/Black Diamond Guide Gloves (winter) - I like gloves. In the summer it seems a bit Fredish to wear gloves during the standard commute, but I do it regardless. Once upon a time I liked having hands that looked like they had been run over by a semi on a regular. Now, not so much. Actually, when it is really hot out, having the gloves helps me keep a better grip on the bars, which can't hurt, can it? And they make a nice soft and absorbent wiper of sweat. Function. In the spring, fall, and winter gloves are not a nice to have, but a must have. I'll spend a lot on gloves if I know that they'll keep my fingers toasty.
4) Shoes/Clipless peddles - Another nod to my Fredness. In the ice/snow free months I roll with my Egg Beaters and a pair of Perl Izumi shoes. I like being attached to the bike. It might be more efficient. It might result in better power transfer to the bike. Or it might serve as theft deterrent as the average bike thief doesn't have the shoes and Egg Beaters hurt to ride on without the proper shoes. Or maybe I'm just a Fred after all and in both senses of the term.
5) Helmet - Have to wear it on every ride. Had a close call once upon a time that resulted in a badly broken tooth and a couple of cracked ribs (or at least some deep bruising) that would have been much, much worse without the helmet. I wear a cheap one. Nothing fancy, but it fits my big nogging, so it works.
6) Former collegiate logo coffee thermos - Picked it up at a Pacific Northwest's university book store years ago. Still keeps my coffee warm for the commute even when it is 20 below.
7) Hibiscus tea and assorted snacks - Love me the hibiscus tea. Supposedly good for the heart. It has helped me reduce my caffeine intake, which is good. Snacks vary. Right now I'm on a dried fruit kick.
8) Sunglasses - Currently I'm wearing a pair by Native eyewear. They have interchangeable lenses so I can wear them in low light as well as bright light situations. That's nice, because in the winter it is really nice to have something covering my eyes. Frozen eyelashes are not fun.
Next time: Tools every cycle commuter should have - or how to screw up your bike big time without even trying.