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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 05-12-17, 08:56 AM   #1
Abe_Froman
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So, looks like my commute is increasing to 15 miles each way

So, my previous commute, that I did about 3 times a week, was ~11.5 miles each way. I'm getting transferred, and commute is going up to just under 15 miles if I take what I think is the smartest route. I could get it down to maybe 13 miles...but it would mean riding on some nasty busy streets. The 15 mile route is on a bike path almost door to door.

No showers at this facility...and I'm going back to wearing a suit now, rather than dress pants, shirt, maybe a tie if I felt like getting crazy. Any suggestions on keeping relatively fresh, IE not sweaty/nasty, after 15 miles? I'm sure this has been asked a million times...but oh well
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Old 05-12-17, 09:10 AM   #2
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Fifteen miles is pretty long for a commute. The usual little tricks--shower before leaving, wipe with damp towel, deodorant, etc. You can likely make that ride without sweating much during cooler weather, but it'd take quite a bit longer. Like if you slog 10-12 mph, you might arrive relatively dry.we But that's a good chunk of time.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:16 AM   #3
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I'm sure you'll just be told to ride slower. Make that 15 mile trip take two hours and you'll be fine.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:38 AM   #4
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I don't see how riding 15 miles in the summer, Chicago if your location is listed correctly, and not sweating. I don't care how slow you ride, you will sweat. The only tips I can offer are this:

Get good cycling specific clothes that will help your body breathe, and avoid cotton at all costs.
Carry nothing on your body, no bags or whatever.
Leave the suits and dress clothes at work and change them out weekly if possible.
Have body wipes, deodorant, clean up stuff at work.

Give yourself extra time to cool your body temperature down BEFORE you change into that suit. <--this is huge! Do you have a private bathroom/office that is available to use? In the summer, I strip down, and just let my body cool down before anything goes on it. This is an ideal time to chug ice water and get breathing under control depending on how fast you rode.
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Old 05-12-17, 10:02 AM   #5
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Give yourself extra time to cool your body temperature down BEFORE you change into that suit. <--this is huge!

This. Leave early, give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes before you'll be visible to the public. That's usually enough time to check your email, say hello to the other early arrivers, then do the baby wipe routine.
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Old 05-12-17, 10:14 AM   #6
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Drive the first 14 miles.
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Old 05-12-17, 10:53 AM   #7
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Get an E-Bike, 1/2 the work, 1/2 the sweat, 1/2 the time... But you can still pedal as much as you want/can...
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Old 05-12-17, 11:03 AM   #8
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You're going to need a garment bag or some other way to transport. I got moved from a 12 mile one way to now a 26 mile one way. You're just going to get sweaty.

I made it for a few months with wet wipes baths. It's not fun. They finally put in showers here at the new building and life is so much better now. It's doable either way though.

I have considered an ebike conversion on one of my bikes. The mid-drive units are pricey (what I've been looking at is about $1300 for just the conversion hardware) but it allows variable assist driven from the pedals. You can turn the assist up on the way in and arrive maybe not so sweaty, and down or off in the evening and get the workout.

I also have a spare car and have considered driving half the route daily (drive in, ride back, next day ride in, drive back). Or driving halfway and switching in a park-and-ride lot.

So there are lots of options.
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Old 05-12-17, 11:22 AM   #9
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This. Leave early, give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes before you'll be visible to the public. That's usually enough time to check your email, say hello to the other early arrivers, then do the baby wipe routine.
+1 That's how I do it (12-14mi one way, office environment, no showers, very sweaty)
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Old 05-12-17, 12:33 PM   #10
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This will make you hot but will keep you dry(er): wear a wool t-shirt under your dress shirt.
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Old 05-12-17, 02:23 PM   #11
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I ride 17 miles each way 2 to 3 times a week. I use the off days to carry my clothes and other items to and from work. I also have a trunk bag in which I can carry other odds and ends. I do not have to dress up at my office and everyone there is very supportive of my transportation choices.

I live in central Florida and there is no way that I can bike 17 miles and not be soaking wet, winter or summer. The office has no shower, so I dry off as best as I can and apply deodorant liberally. I have a place to store my bike inside and a place to hang up my riding clothes so that they can dry out.

Sometimes I drive part way, which leaves me a 12 mile bike ride on two trails, which is amazingly easier in time, effort and traffic than my normal commute. I probably should do that more often, but somehow it feels like cheating. I promised my wife that I would not ride in the dark, so during the winter, I struggle with having enough daylight to bike and still get 8 hours of work in. Fortunately, my job is pretty flexible. During the winter, on days that I bike, I work a little less and make up the time on the days that I drive. The fun time is dodging the thunderstorms on the way home during summer afternoons

I say try it and see what happens!
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Old 05-12-17, 02:45 PM   #12
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15 miles in Chicago with no showers? That's tough. I don't know if I could do it.

I can only suggest what everyone else will: shower first, baby wipes, give yourself time to cool off, maybe a desk fan.
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Old 05-12-17, 10:32 PM   #13
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The cool off period will be the big breaker for this. If OP can get his/her body temperature back down to normal, it will work. Will take some trial and error more than likely, much like everything with commuting does.
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Old 05-13-17, 06:49 AM   #14
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A number of factors affect how much you sweat; how fast you ride, wind, shade, hills, clothing, and obviously temp & humidity. Bike choice has a big affect as well. I can ride 15 miles in a suit without sweating up to maybe 85-90f and sweat little above that.

You will sweat a lot less on a proper Dutch upright. Leaning forward, even a tiny bit, will cause a lot more sweating. Check out JC Lind in Chicago for these bikes. More: City Bikes | LocalMile.

No iron shirts don't breath so wear good 100% cotton oxfords. Solid white is best. Same breathability for your suit. Helmets and gloves keep your body from cooling itself naturally so avoid them. Many people sweat and stink a lot less if they avoid anti-perspirants and deodorants (yes, this goes against the marketing line of the anti-perspirant companies).

As mentioned above, an e-bike may be a good solution. You'd likely only need a tiny bit of extra help on hills or on extra hot humid days so maybe 100-150 watts. Azor and Batavus are the better one's I've ridden with Azor the better of these.

Do what you can to make it work and then don't hesitate to take a train or drive on days when the weather doesn't make it possible. A little bit of sweat isn't a problem, it's a lot of sweat that is and I'm not sure any bit of cooling off after sweating a lot will do much good unless you shower. American's solution to road fatalities is to make crashes safer while Europe's focus has been on reducing crashes. One has worked massively better than the other. Similarly, avoiding sweat is the ticket since once you sweat a lot you've got a problem that baby wipes and fans in your office will not effectively deal with and will likely offend a lot of people around you.

Last edited by CrankyOne; 05-13-17 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 05-13-17, 06:52 AM   #15
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I second the ebike idea. Your situation is kind of ideal for it.
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Old 05-13-17, 06:55 AM   #16
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Can you take the bus half way and then ride in? When bad weather hits, the ride seems a lot longer.
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Old 05-13-17, 08:26 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
A number of factors affect how much you sweat; how fast you ride, wind, shade, hills, clothing, and obviously temp & humidity. Bike choice has a big affect as well. I can ride 15 miles in a suit without sweating up to maybe 85-90f and sweat little above that.

You will sweat a lot less on a proper Dutch upright. Leaning forward, even a tiny bit, will cause a lot more sweating. Check out JC Lind in Chicago for these bikes. More: City Bikes | LocalMile.

No iron shirts don't breath so wear good 100% cotton oxfords. Solid white is best. Same breathability for your suit. Helmets and gloves keep your body from cooling itself naturally so avoid them. Many people sweat and stink a lot less if they avoid anti-perspirants and deodorants (yes, this goes against the marketing line of the anti-perspirant companies).

As mentioned above, an e-bike may be a good solution. You'd likely only need a tiny bit of extra help on hills or on extra hot humid days so maybe 100-150 watts. Azor and Batavus are the better one's I've ridden with Azor the better of these.

Do what you can to make it work and then don't hesitate to take a train or drive on days when the weather doesn't make it possible. A little bit of sweat isn't a problem, it's a lot of sweat that is and I'm not sure any bit of cooling off after sweating a lot will do much good unless you shower. American's solution to road fatalities is to make crashes safer while Europe's focus has been on reducing crashes. One has worked massively better than the other. Similarly, avoiding sweat is the ticket since once you sweat a lot you've got a problem that baby wipes and fans in your office will not effectively deal with and will likely offend a lot of people around you.
I am calling absolute bs on the suit in 85-90° temps and not sweating while riding 15 miles. Unless you are some sort of freak of nature that doesn't sweat, this is just not possible. Just the thought of trying to pedal a grossly overweight dutch style upright bike that is pushing 50lbs makes me sweat. Chicago gets humid, and 15 miles in 90° temps with the humidity and it doesn't matter if you are naked, you will be drenched.
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Old 05-13-17, 09:24 AM   #18
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He's talking about riding an upright dutch-style bike, which I've heard has some special magical powers, one of which is being able to stay completely sweat-free while riding in 90* heat in a suit. Amazing stuff!
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Old 05-13-17, 10:54 AM   #19
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Or maybe he doesn't call it sweating if it is only a certain amount.
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Old 05-13-17, 11:54 AM   #20
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Assuming you can keep work clothes at work and don't want to do this EVERY day... Wear light cycling gear (it's amazing how quickly wind can dry your sweat if you have your cycling jersey unzipped well down your chest), DON'T wear a backpack (obviously), ride easy on the way in, keep a small towel at work or bring it with you and go take a cold water rinse in the bathroom (face/neck/shoulders) to cool down, towel dry and then change into suit.

There are some essential oils that do well at neutralizing body odor without wreaking of overpowering cologne smell. My buddy brought some on a tour cross country and we had a small squirt bottle we would dilute it with water and spritz on to not smell like hobos when encountering the general public, worked pretty well.
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Old 05-13-17, 12:01 PM   #21
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That is an impressive commute. Do 11mi 3-4 times a week in central illinois. I certainly sweat. I just get there 20 minutes early and change my shirt. Fortunately I can work in cargo shorts.
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Old 05-13-17, 04:41 PM   #22
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The fears of people on here about Dutch bikes is kind of like the fear gas car folks have had of electrics. :-)
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Old 05-13-17, 05:15 PM   #23
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It's not fear. Kinda like using a hammer to drive a screw--not the right tool for the job. If my commute was less than 5k and I were wearing dressier clothes, then yeah, a dutch bike with belt drive and chain cover would be the right tool. Thirteen mile? No way.
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Old 05-13-17, 06:32 PM   #24
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The fears of people on here about Dutch bikes is kind of like the fear gas car folks have had of electrics. :-)
I suspect, it's also the same with E-Bikes and regular bicycles...
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Old 05-13-17, 07:52 PM   #25
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Ebike is the only realistic solution if you want to keep bike commuting those distances with less/no sweat. Get one with torque sensing & it'll feel like a normal bike, but with the effect of a constant tailwind.
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