The Chainlink

A postal clerk was asking me how bicyclists "stay fresh" for work after biking through a hot, humid summer commute.

Me:  Some folks have showers at work or bring supplies (meanwhile, I am dripping wet and don't look too purdy...). But I really don't know how all of them do it....

A range of responses would be handy and nice to print up and give to her.

Maybe, it will entice her to ride to work.


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I keep a bar of soap, washcloth and small bowl in my desk at work and change into clean clothes after a bird bath in the restroom. As for lady hair - those thin bands are lifesavers, it stays up all summer (but styles better after a ride...)

I kept baby wipes (get the cheap, unscented ones at CVS), deodorant, cologne, and a bottle of febreeze in in my desk and brought a change of clothes with me. 

Shower before you leave, hit all of the sweaty areas with the wipes when you arrive (pits, small of the back, neck, feet, groin), freshen deodorant, and a change of clothes.  My riding clothes got hit with the febreeze and hung up so that they didn't smell too funky at the end of the day.

For the hair, I keep mine shaved in the summer and short in the winter.  A little water and your usual styling regimen for it and you're golden.

These days, I rejoined the gym at work, so I can hit the shower and drop my riding shirt into the laundry service.

I always shower before I leave, and I leave early enough that the real heat has not hit. (It does not matter when I am going home.)  I have access to a bathroom, but no shower.  I keep deodorant, soap, washcloth, and towel in a drawer, but usually only need to do a little clean up with the paper towels.  I can keep some changes of clothes at the office, but I also sometimes bring a change of clothes.  My summer work clothes have evolved to things that can be rolled and taken out unwrinkled, like light knits.

Finally, if it is too hot, I slow down while riding so I don't get there dripping wet!

All of the above, plus give yourself 10-15 minutes between arriving at work and having to start work, so your body can cool off and you stop sweating. No use in washing up when you are still sweating.

I believe that sweat itself doesn't stink, but the waste products of the bacteria that feed on your sweat does. Therefore minimizing the bacteria activity, by wiping with an antibacterial baby cloth helps. At least that is what I tell myself ;)

I swear by the baby wipes approach as well, but immediately after getting to the office I grab a gym towel and head to the restroom to throw some cold water on my face and neck. It gets any sweat or grit off and helps accelerate any cooling down I might have to do. I do it year round too, it still helps even in the winter. Then it's back to my office for the wipes/deoderant/gold bond routine.

Another alternative - if you don't have baby wipes handy - moisten a paper towel or two to wipe down all the sweaty/gritty parts. Follow with a dry paper towel if you don't have a few minutes to sit and cool down in the bathroom.  

Duppie's right about allow 10-15 minutes to cool down. Those few minutes can make a big difference if you've got 'em.  

Use a bit of baby powder if you wish. Reapply deodorant. Enjoy the rest of your day.

A friend of mine here at work keeps baby wipes and just freshens up in the bathroom.  His commute is about 4 miles.  Mine is anywhere from 12-14 miles, depending on route.  Our building has a health club that offers a shower-only membership for $25/month.  Well worth it in comparison with the cost of riding the trains.  I make especially good use of it during the hotter months.

There is also "no-water-needed" shampoos and body washes that we used to use in Iraq & Afghanistan. I think that they were intended for hiker/campers, because I just saw them at REI. Just a washcloth and the bottle. Do your important parts, then roll on with the rest of your day.


Just a suggestion.





+1 on dry shampoo. There are several brands out there now. I apply it before I ride and it takes care of helmet hair for the most part. I also keep face wipes in my desk to wipe off the sweat and sunscreen. Makeup (if she wears any) goes on at work. 

unscented baby wipes


light scented cologne (offensive/too much is as bad as B.O.)

powder for hot spots

small fan under my desk as I sit the first 5 minutes before above regimen and boot up workstations

5 years, year-round, and have not been sent to HR for B.O. or overt cologne

I like wool. I don't get to shower at work. After my 4 mile bike commute to Metra, I have a one mile walk to the office. Merino wool wicks really well, keep me cool, and 'wool don't stink'! (At least if you don't abuse that adage and keep wearing multiple days - 1 for me). I may not be entirely fresh, but I haven't noticed people moving away when I enter a room.

Many thanks to all!  I did a bunch of print outs and gave them to the postal clerk -  she was mesmerized by everyone's solutions.

Next time I see her, I'll give her a city bike route map, a pamphlet on safe biking and perhaps a shiny, new bicycle catalogue.  Maybe I can get her biking, too.



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