commuting to the workplace/ post-ride hygiene

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    Leslie Thurston


    Locale: right here, right now

    this summer, i plan to commute a good 2 hrs. to work.
    unfortunately there aren't any shower faclities at my work, and i'm in constant
    interaction with the public. does anyone have any experience with this? after a ride in the humid new england air, i anticipate smelling ripe. can anyone share some ideas on how to keep odors at bay? i'm thinking a membership to a nearby gym just to shower?
    or….? thanks. lt

    Clint Hewitt


    Locale: New England

    Do you have to arrive in your work clothes? If not you could change into a fresh pair of clothes in the bathroom and take an Irish shower, fresh deodorant and a light spray of perfume. Wash your hands, face and forearms in the sink.

    Also merino underwear, socks and undershirts could help. In fact merino anything would help as long as its not soaked with sweat.

    Wet wipes could be another option, probably get by using 2-3 per day.

    Ride slower don't build up as much sweat. Also don't wear a back pack against your back to cut down on sweat. Earlier in the day you leave the cooler it will be. If you leave when the sun is up wearing white will keep you cooler and less sweaty. Take a cold shower before you leave it will delay your body heating up 20-30 minutes. Endurance athletes do this to increase performance.

    Putting fenders on your bike will keep you and your bike cleaner, especially if the roads are wet.

    But yea a shower would be ideal. Shame to pay for a gym membership just for that.

    Clayton Black
    BPL Member


    Sponge bath with Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern California

    I vote for the gym membership. If you leave a little earlier, you can lift a few weights. Also most gyms have food and drinks for sale. You'll refreshed and more ready to begin work.

    martin cooperman


    Locale: Industrial Midwest

    I've been commuting 6 miles to work for the last 36 years. Cleveland has about the same summer conditions as New England. I don't have big hills to climb on the way to work, but you might, so that could influence how much you sweat.
    It's cooler in the morning, assuming your commute is for an early morning schedule. Even on a 90 degree day, it's probably in the low 70s in the morning at the warmest.
    I don't pedal like mad on the way there. I keep a good pace, but just below breaking out in a strong sweat.
    I have several changes of clothes at work.
    I have a container of alcohol wipes.
    While changing I swipe my armpits and crotch with the wipes.
    I'm changed and looking and feeling refreshed in just a few minutes.
    Some folks take showers at the gym, but that would take far too long and you might not have access to a gym.
    I don't think that's necessary.
    My wife does the same commute as I do, then turns around and goes back 6 miles to her shop. Where she works with customers all day long. No shower, just an change of clothes and an alcohol wipe.
    Going home on a hot afternoon uphill is quite another matter. But that's after work.
    Marty Cooperman
    Clevland, Ohio

    Jim Colten
    BPL Member


    Locale: MN

    I'm sure a gym membership would work if there's a gym in the vicinity of the work place.

    Being born with an excellent personal furnace plus carrying too much sub-cutaneous insulation, I stay warm easily and sweat very easily. I bike commuted 6 miles for several years (often detouring to take advantage of hill climbs) but had the luxury of a shower facility when I arrived.

    But I've also made it work without showers, even during hot/humid weather (low temps in the mid 70's, highs in the 90's, dew points in the 70's) by cleaning in the bathroom and changing out of riding clothes. You can do wonders with a washcloth, a little soap, a pack towel, a couple wetwipes, deodorant and a comb.

    Leslie Thurston


    Locale: right here, right now

    cool, thanks all. this is indeed manageable! my commute is hilly, but not entirely such that i'd be spent before i even started work (though the 2 hr. commute home might hurt some) what doesn't kill ya… anywho, i gots to thinkin' there's a river about 1 mile from the workplace– dippidy-do-da!, then follow with the aforementioned wipes and a patchouli bath to end. i can then altogether skip the gym membership and buy me some slick tires.
    thanks again.

    Stephen M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Way up North

    Are you Irish Clint?

    Dale South
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast

    Sweat itself is virtually odorless to humans; it is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat and what they do (break sweat down into acids) that eventually causes the unpleasant smell.

    Bob Gross
    BPL Member


    Locale: Silicon Valley

    Remember: Horses sweat. Men perspire. Women merely glow.


    BPL Member


    'Sweat itself is virtually odorless to humans; it is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat and what they do (break sweat down into acids) that eventually causes the unpleasant smell."

    True. I would look into a product called "Lavilin", as a substitute for deodorant. Does not have a perfume smell and it's not an antiperspirant. Only need to apply it once a week.

    edited…lavilin, not lavolin

    Nigel Healy


    Locale: San Francisco bay area

    Bike long hard rides at the weekend so your fitness is higher than you need for commuting. e.g. my commute is 23 miles on the flat so on a Sunday I do a 70 mile 7000ft loop. I do about 350-500 miles a week, about 10,000 miles/year.

    I been commuting via bike for 24 years.

    I decide WHO I WORK FOR and WHERE I LIVE based around cycling. Bike geek :)

    These are ALL the ideas, many won't apply to your personal situation, you can't use, but pick which ones you can use.

    Under-dress when riding, you need the high output of cycling to stay warm.

    Ride slow the last 10mins, as slow as you possibly can do. freewheeling. Under-dressing will mean you're beginning to feel cold when you stop. If you have any flexibility of route, try to be in the last minutes coming downhill or with tailwind to be putting the least effort the last minutes, that might involve over-shooting not taking the shortest route, be creative. Think about who you work for, prefer those at bottom of a hill! Think about where you live, prefer those higher up than where you work! In one job I looked for houses upwind (happened to be to the west) so I was blown into work and had headwind going home.

    Talk to your manager about your wish, highlight how the average sick days of regular cyclists is 20% of those who drive in, you pick up less bugs out in the air than in public transport, and mental alertness is higher post exercise and higher through the day due to elevated fitness. Your arrival times will be more consistent due to no road blockages or public transport strikes to impact your arrival time. Highlight your work leaving time is far more flexible, not trying to get out before traffic gets bad. Turn cycling in your management eyes into a good thing – then turn that into tolerance of the ideas below.

    Offer, or expain, you are coming into work earlier, if required ask permission to come in early, state the first 20mins you are doing personal stuff, you are "chilling". Then, find stuff personal you can be doing to make this a true statement, moving some chores you'd otherwise do in the evening/weekend.

    Keep a fan at work, a powered one at your desk and a battery one you can take into the changing facilities. Be prepared to move desk to make this work.

    Arrive as slowed-down and as cool as possible. During riding you will be sweating but its evaporating instantly and you are always dry. You then when you stop moving lose the evaporative effect of moving and the sweat you are making is then accumulating and you begin to get really wet, and will keep sweating til the elevated metabolism of the exercise dissipates. It takes about 10-20mins for my metabolism to warm-up as I begin riding and then about 20mins for it to slow down when I stop, the need to breathe drops instantly, like 2 lung-fulls but heat output drops much slower. In changing facilities strip down as quick as possible after getting off your bike, so think about where you are changing and where you keep your bike relative. Consider moving your bike after you changed and after you've cooled down. Change SLOWLY, putting in the least effort, no rushing. Sometimes using changing facilities in a different office and then biking again to your office might make the bike-changing geography better.

    Have an ice-cold drink near your desk, either in a fridge you pass, or you brought with you.

    Think about the fact you need to be in a cooling breeze to aid evaporation and yet putting in the least effort. A casual walk will cool you down.

    Sit at your desk and put on the powered fan (even better than walking, all the breeze no output), sip the drink. Try to lower your core temperature as quick as possible.

    Creative tricks are to get permission to sit in your cycling gear for first 20mins as in general less-insulating than work clothes, if you arrive before normal work time, it might be permitted, then when chilled put in the effort of changing clothes.

    Try to have your desk in a secluded spot, a cyclist with a fan is something to be hidden and unheard!

    Actual smell off a cyclist in general is LOWER than the average person because your work clothes are put on AT WORK not over an hour earlier and sat in a car sweating. Your elevated fitness means once you've slowed down, you're cooler than others, you'll not get as warm as others walking around.

    Also, whilst not mentioned, you'll need 2 lunches! I'm hungry a good hour before others due to the exertion and I need to eat to fuel the return journey.

    Bike harder on the way home than into work so your fitness level is well above what you need to get into work.

    Hope some of these suggestions are applicable. If not, change your employer!

    Scott Todd


    Never heard it referred to as an Irish shower but that is what I do. Once I get into work I wash the road grime from my hands and face, change out of my cycling clothes, apply deodorant and cologne, and change into my work clothes. I keep my work clothes, shoes, and toiletries in a small pack.

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