The "Discomfort" Zone: Cycling, Commuting, And Caring For Your Gear

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Guest Contributor: Liz Furmanski (Nikwax Ambassador)

The “Discomfort” Zone: The Experience of a Cyclist

As a year-round bike commuter in Seattle, the change in seasons is a bittersweet time; as we go from winter rains to warming temps and ample sunshine, there is a sweetness and a bitterness to the season.

The sweetness comes from the fresh scent of newly blooming flowers on every street and the views of the mountains emerging from their hibernation. In the Spring, beautiful & boasting views are around each corner I turn. I'm dry, I'm warm, and I'm comfortable-- but I am certainly not alone.

Along with the warmer temperatures, comes the throng of people, emerging from their hibernation, as well. Along with the changing of the seasons, the trails change from peaceful to crowded. The bees bustle from flower to flower and the commuters dash from place to place. We’re scurrying around each other, trying to get to work on time, while avoiding the various potholes and road-raged drivers that could ruin the day.

This is where the bitterness comes in.

It makes sense, of course. We have all learned to adapt to creature comforts, and good weather is simply more comfortable. Being wet, cold, and uncomfortable is not the desired feeling for most bike commuters, so in the less-favorable weather, the majority of us err on the side of comfort and stick with the ease of motor vehicles.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excluded from the bucket of people who love creature comforts. I relish in turning a cheek to the rainfall outside my bedroom window on a Saturday morning, cozying up on the couch with a movie and wasting the day away.

Hot chocolate during a snowstorm in front of a warm indoor fire, playing board games with friends?


I feel more than content in that comfort zone, protected from the elements and physically at ease.

But sometimes, contentment just doesn’t cut it and I need to do more.

I need to push into my "discomfort zone."

Thankfully, I don’t have to feel miserable when I opt to expose myself to those harsher elements. A "discomfort zone" doesn't have to be a zone of absolute misery and desperation.

During the winter, I spend my weekday mornings and evenings biking to and from work, rain or shine. I spend my weekends out in the mountains, snowshoeing to high summits and winter camping in my tent. And believe it or not, I always stay comfortable in the worst weather conditions.

How, you ask? I’ve invested in the best quality gear for these types of outdoor activities, and most importantly, I take care of that gear to increase its durability and overall lifetime. This saves me money and keeps me cozy while I’m traveling through the backcountry as well as commuting through the city.

While I’m not too crazy about sharing the trails with hundreds of bike commuters all year round, I am willing to share my year-round bike secrets to encourage others to do more outdoors and escape their “comfort zones”.

Taking care of my gear is simple; I use just about every variety of Nikwax products a few times a season to keep all of my pieces clean and waterproof.

Below are 3 easy steps to become a year-round bike commuter using the Nikwax essentials that I swear by:

1. Clean all tech gear (and the washing machine!) with Nikwax Tech Wash.

2. Waterproof outer shells that are meant to keep you dry by using Nikwax TX. Direct Wash-In.

3. Spray commuter backpack with Spray-on TX. Direct or Tent & Gear SolarProof.

…That’s it!

No matter the weather, I arrive to work dry, and I change into my work clothes that have been protected by my waterproofed backpack. When the day ends, I put on my dry bike clothes and head home.

This gear-care takes hardly any time and allows me the freedom to play in whatever weather Mother Nature throws our way.

I’ll spare you the cheesy quotes about how life begins at the end of your comfort zone...

How you should constantly challenge yourself to be the best version of you...

How a ship is safe at shore, but that’s not what it’s built for..

I’m sure you’ve heard how a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but that nothing ever grows there, and how you are only confined by the walls you build yourself…

But it's true... you can DO MORE, find your discomfort zone, and ride on.

See you out there.


Liz Furmanski is a nature lover and an outdoor enthusiast, hell-bent on getting the most out of life. An educator by trade, she loves spreading her passion for exploration and for the earth's endless wonders. She and her husband make up the dynamic duo, "Teton and Moose", otherwise known as "The Wild Outsiders." You'll likely find her outdoors hiking, backpacking, cycling, mountaineering, kayaking, or camping, and doing it with all with a genuine smile.

To keep up with Liz, check out or her and her husband's adventure-filled Instagram feed @thewildoutsiders.



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