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Thread: sniff sniff

  1. #1
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    I'm about to graduate from college, and I dread the idea of commuting to work in a car, so I'd like to try biking it. All the posts on the Commuting forum are very encouraging, but there's one thing I can't help wondering about:

    After 10 miles in 95F degree 80% humidity, how can anyone not arrive at work drenched in sweat? Even assuming that maybe you keep some nice clothes at the office, I can't imagine that coworkers' snouts would appreciate such an olfactory aura.

    So, seriously, from a hopeful velocommuter, how do you get around practical things like arriving at work in presentable condition?

    thanks,
    Joseph O'Brien

  2. #2
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Summers in Atlanta are 90 - 100 degrees, high humidity.
    Mornings are a bit cooler. But no matter what, I always
    sweat, the more the better, to keep me cool!

    Just remember to drink, drink, drink, drink (you get the idea) and make that drink as cold as it gets. You'll just have to change clothes and wipe/wash down in the bathroom and use more deodorant and baby powder than a Sumo wrestler.

    Remember that the two stinky areas are armpits and crotch, due to the different types of sweat glands in those places (hence deodorant, for armpits, and baby powder, for crotch). If you're clean to start with (shower in the morning) and you change ALL your clothes, you will smell better than anyone (unless you forget to keep your helmet washed)!
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 04-17-01 at 10:33 PM.

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    I don't make commuting an aerobic work-out.

    For me, the goal is to get to work, have an enjoyable ride, and be safe.

    I do step it up for short stints, but nothing that will get me sweating profusely.

    Honestly, though, I don't have to deal with 95 degree weather on a constant basis, so there may be some other tricks to the trade for the heat riders.

    Some cats actually pack work clothes separately and even shower at or near work. I never had that much time or appetite for fiddling about with dressing and grooming at the workplace. I like to get to work, go to my office and get crackin'.

    When suits and neckties were in, I wore suits and neckties while I biked - looked just like a British tea commercial. I'm glad the suit and necktie fashion finally died.
    Mike

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    TB Player A F Baker's Avatar
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    I live in Kentucky, and the suggestion I have to make is GET A JOB IN THE COMPUTER INDUSTRY. Nerds don't care what you smell like. The topic of discussion is usually about movies, mp3s, or mother boards. They don't have time to discuss what the newbie smells like. Believe me on this one o'brien...I'm both a computer geek and a cyclist. :thumbup:
    'No other folk make such a trampling,' said Legolas. 'It seems their delight to slash and beat down growing things that are not even in their way.'
    The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings
    JRR Tolkien

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    I find that cooling down on the bike is more effectrive than standing around flapping my arms. For the last few hundred yards I freewheel and catch the breeze.
    Reducing your cycling speed will reduce your cool-down time, and may even speed up your overall journey time.

    A wet sponge can clean up most of the sweat if your employer doesnt have showers. BTW if you want to enquire about showers, you might say I want to cycle in, but it may be more effective to say "I like to jog at lunchtime". Some companies have an odd attitude to cyclists, but think that running in circles is a wholesome activity.

  6. #6
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    I find that cooling down on the bike is more effective than standing around flapping my arms. For the last few hundred yards I freewheel and catch the breeze.
    Good point! I've noticed that when I stop at a traffic light, or at my destination, my sweat glands suddenly start
    pouring out the sweat. I thought it was just that while riding, the sweat evaporated, and that stopping prevented the evaporation. But I read somewhere that it has more to do with blood flow and excess body heat, which can be normalized by cooling down on the bike, taking it easy for the last few of minutes of your ride and catching a breeze. Good one, thank you, Michael!

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    i do a sponge-bath with papertowels, soap, and water and rinse my hair. i go into the bathroom in my cycle clothers, w/my work clothes in a bag, get my sponge bath (i.e. wet soaped papertowels) ready, go into a stall, and.... come out magically transformed and smelling wonderful!

    just kidding. i'm sure i don't smell wonderful but at least i don't stink. i also bring facial soap, deoderant, comb, and hair gel into the bathroom with me - once i'm changed i work on the face and hair. face gets a full wash, the hair is not so lucky, but with some water and gel i can usually get it to submit in some fashion.

    i find that it's my office that gets kind of rank. i have a "room spray" that i use in there. this is probably because i lay out my cycle clothes in little piles so they can dry before the evening commute (something is alway wet, either because of rain or sweat). also air circulation inside the building is not so good.

    -jb

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Go, go, JB!

    Shoot, girl, you're way ahead of those perfumed, make-up'd, "I-can't-climb-a-flight-of-stairs-or-walk-a-block-lest-I-ruin-my-look" girls! Nothin' like rosy cheeks and a springy step!

    (Yeah!)

    I bet they are privately watching you for secrets to weight loss...

  9. #9
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    Many good suggestions already posted!

    Sweat itself has little or no odor. It's the bacteria in the crotch and armpits that largely determine any offensive smell. So using a washrag and soap in those areas will take care of that problem, in a normal body, if it exists in the first place. That's what I did for years at work, and I never got any funny looks or frowns.

  10. #10
    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    I am lucky enough to work in an office with a small fitness center and showers. However, when training for a marathon many years ago, I ran to work (about 10 miles) 2-3 days a week when there was no shower. I left changes of clothes as well as towel, washcloth, etc., in my office. I live in New Orleans where 95 degrees and 95-100% humidity is the norm in summer. I found that soap was not even necessary. A sponge off of the smelly areas with wet paper towels or washcloth, dry, then apply deodorant and baby powder (hey, Pete Clark, another thing in common). Sometimes I would wash my hair in the lavatory, but most of the time I just rinsed it. I usually got in before anyone else so privacy was not a problem, but if there were people around I stepped into a stall to rinse the more private areas. Though rinsing pits will get pretty much the same looks as rinsing crotch so it really doesn't make much difference.

    An aside - I find that plain old Argo Corn Starch works even better than baby powder, even the corn starch kind, and costs about $0.60 per pound compared to almost $2.00 per pound for baby powder. Try it. Doesn't have the tell tale aroma either.

    Hey, Junebride, if you have any way at all, hang everything on hangers. Even my wettest stuff gets practically dry by riding home time.

    So to the budding commuter, ideally, look for a job with a company that has facilities, there are quite a few out there. And if you are creative, you can almost always find routes that have less traffic than the most direct routes. If you have to ride a couple of extra miles, so much the better. My morning ride is on main streets and is 8.6 miles. Going home it was 11.4 until a few weeks ago when I changed the route to avoid even more traffic. Now it is something like 13.4 miles, including several miles through a big park and by the lake. It actually takes a couple of minutes less time to go the extra 2 miles because of fewer traffic lights and stop signs. It also helps to work an early schedule if the company has flexible work hours. You can avoid the worst traffic that way.

    Good luck,
    Raymond
    If it ain't broke, mess with it anyway!

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    Thanks for the reply, all. Out of curiosity, I checked the milage on the shortest (expressway) route to my future job. Turns out it's around 17 miles one-way. It's a little more than I estimated

    Looks like I'll be taking the bus until I move out of the 'burbs. Oh well. Thanks for the advice anyway!

    joseph

  12. #12
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    Just musing about those seventeen miles....

    You could ride your bike to work, take the bus home, bus to work next morning, ride bike home in the evening, etc.

    Of course not unless you could leave your bike inside the workplace overnight.

    Just a thought.

  13. #13
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    JonR is on target, if you want to ride. I live 14 miles and used to use the train part way, cycle in 4 miles, then cycle home. 18 total.

    Now I skip the train. I started out going 3 miles to the bus stop. Always a way, if you want to.

  14. #14
    0^0 fubar5's Avatar
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    I only have about 1/2 mile to work. Actually I don't work yet, I'm still vonlenteering there, but I start May 7th. Anyway, its a short distance and on the way there its mostly downhill. Soooo, I crank it (my cyclist term for "floor it", or"pedal to the metal") all the way there. It must suck for the guys there cause my shirt is usually sticking to me, I'm gasping for air and sweat is dripping of my chin. I don't wash or anything. I guess I'll have to take the advise you guys have and get there early to wash up a little

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    dark and cynical PapeteeBooh's Avatar
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    Everything is in the equipment. Get a reliable bike (does not matter if your paid $1,000 or $10 for it - reliable does not mean fancy) and I would suggest to carry:

    - a spare tube
    - a glueless patch kit
    - a CO2 pump
    - a manual pump
    - a decent commuter bag
    - always a spare shirt
    - waterproof pans + jacket
    - a deodorant

    and you are good to go

  16. #16
    Senior Member technogirl's Avatar
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    All really good info! I keep baby wipes with me in my pannier and at work. I will add the talcum powder on my list of stuff to add to washing up at work. Geez, that's pretty dual purpose, I have talcum powder for bike michanic reasons!

    Hey, Ba-Dg-Er, I was LOL at your post about the crotch...but still didn't know about the crotch gland!
    Man, did I miss that on the 5th grade hygiene video, or what?

    I heard that there was a gym in the next building, where some folks would play basketball. I might have to check that out to see if they have showers there. I read some make shift shower contraption on one of the bike sites, that you can bring with you at work. I'll have to look into that as well.
    -------------------------------------
    "Hard work often pays off after time, but craziness pays off now."
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  17. #17
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    Originally posted by junebride
    i do a sponge-bath with papertowels, soap, and water and rinse my hair. i go into the bathroom in my cycle clothers, w/my work clothes in a bag, get my sponge bath (i.e. wet soaped papertowels) ready, go into a stall, and.... come out magically transformed and smelling wonderful!

    just kidding.

    .....

    -jb
    Actually, this is EXACTLY what I do! Takes only 5 minutes, and is well worth being able cycle as hard as I want.

    -Sean

  18. #18
    Senior Member Andre's Avatar
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    Hi Obrian,
    I too live 17 miles from my workplace and have just started bike commuting.When i initally started i would drive part way and then ride the rest of the route.My next step was to ride to work 3 times a week, which i am now doing, and next week i will increase to 4 times a week.
    On paper 17 miles sounds like a lot,and it is,but you will be amazed at how quickly your body adapts to riding that distance.You also feel great once you get to work but be warned,you will have to take a lot of food to eat after riding that far first thing in the morning!

    Andre

  19. #19
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Andre is quoting my exact experience. Uncanny.

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