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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 04-03-11, 07:24 AM   #1
Callalily
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New to bike commuting - lack of showers

I would like to bike commute to a new job in DC--I see a lot of people bike commuting on my drive in to DC and I'd like to join them.

The one problem is that my new coworkers keep pointing out the sweat issue and lack of showers at the office. I don't want to be offensive to my new colleagues. I was thinking about bringing an athletic washcloth/towel and a hairdryer and just ducking into the bathroom to change and freshen up.

How do other people handle a lack of showers? What do people do with sweaty bike clothes during the workday?
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Old 04-03-11, 07:37 AM   #2
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Take a shower at home, put on clean clothes, ride to work, dry off, hang wet stuff up in office or cubicle.
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Old 04-03-11, 07:44 AM   #3
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Ride slower. I generally ride at a pace that's analogous to a fast walk (11-13mph).
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Old 04-03-11, 07:48 AM   #4
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There's a few ways to handle it, my preferred method is to take a shower in the morning before your ride. Clean bodies don't stink when they sweat. Then dress appropriate for the ride (not too hot/cold). Then take it easy for the last half mile or so to cool down. When you get to the office, duck into the bathroom to change. If you're sweaty then wipe down with a towel.

I always kept a gym bag at work which my bike clothes would sit in during the day. Left open under my desk, my clothes would be dry by the ride home.
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Old 04-03-11, 07:56 AM   #5
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Hey, this is an oppurtunity to not be bothered by colleagues. Since noone wants to bother you because of BO, you'll be able keep your headdown and concentrate on your tasks at hand. Eventually the office is yours, then the company is yours. Who knows where this could lead President Callily.
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Old 04-03-11, 08:04 AM   #6
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As above, shower before ride.
Ride at suitable pace.
Use the last section as a cooldown (much more efficient than cooling down off the bike).
In v hot conditions, pour water over your head and jersey during the cooldown.
Facewash in basin.
Get a coat-hanger with clips and try to air-dry your bike clothes.
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Old 04-03-11, 08:11 AM   #7
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Despite of what you might think, it's not a big issue. I agree with what was said so far, and I like to add that it's important to cool off a few minutes after you arrive before you clean-up. (I made myself a alcohol-witch hazel spray that I apply after arriving, works like a charm).
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Old 04-03-11, 08:21 AM   #8
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Rubbing alcohol applied to the skin can help with sweating. Too much will eventually dry your skin out but don't go hogwild with it and you should be fine.
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Old 04-03-11, 09:05 AM   #9
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This website offers some pretty good and practical suggestions on dealing with sweat, including unscented baby wipes, towel, portable fan, etc.

http://www.900mpg.org/obstacles.php#showers

I would also suggest riding in moisture wicking clothing, or if possible, cycling-specific gear. You may have already thought of this, but it will help to regulate how much sweat is on your body. If you wear cotton on your commute (including underwear), it will get wet & heavy & stick to your body. I'm a lot more comfortable and I get dry quicker with the right clothing. Good luck, have fun!

Last edited by Top Gunner; 04-03-11 at 09:05 AM. Reason: add website
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Old 04-03-11, 09:50 AM   #10
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Repost from here: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=#post12354279

Shower and deodorant before leaving. (I put some deodorant on my sternum as well as under my arms; for some reason I get particularly sour-smelling funk from there.)
Gold Bond on your junk.
Wear a lightweight, light-colored, wicking shirt on the ride. I have a few Under Armour Catalyst shirts I wear.
Use wet wipes to clean up and reapply deodorant on arrival if necessary.
Change into normal clothing.
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Old 04-03-11, 11:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Callalily View Post
I would like to bike commute to a new job in DC--I see a lot of people bike commuting on my drive in to DC and I'd like to join them.

The one problem is that my new coworkers keep pointing out the sweat issue and lack of showers at the office. I don't want to be offensive to my new colleagues. I was thinking about bringing an athletic washcloth/towel and a hairdryer and just ducking into the bathroom to change and freshen up.

How do other people handle a lack of showers? What do people do with sweaty bike clothes during the workday?
That's BS. They're really concerned about you being a constant source of embarrassment to them. Cycling to work threatens the staus quo in this country and makes one and 'eccentric' or a 'tree-hugger'...neither of which are true.

Keep a complete change of clothes at work for emergencies along w/personal necessities such as a towell, deo, toothbrush. Shower before leaving and do a complete change of clothes before work. Give yourself plenty of time to cool down before changing. A hairdryer is a good option. Make sure you've got hangers for your cycling clothes and err on the side of modesty. Would suggest wearing mtb type cycling shorts if your commute is long enough to require padding. Carry your working clothes back and forth each day or bring in a week's worth on Mondays...that's what I do, but I work in a warehouse w/lockers, so it's easier. I have worked in situations similar to yours and though challanging it's doable.

Commuting is fun and a learning experience. However, co-workers will do everything in their power to make you feel stubborn, stupid or out-of-step. "Isn't it dangerous?" "What're you trying to prove?", "You rode in this weather?" Then after they've finally come to the conclusion you're serious about being a cycle-commuter you'll get stuff like this: "Whatsamatter, too cold for you today?" After you've ridden for a month straight and decided to take a day off. Or my personal favorite: "I knew you wouldn't ride in this rain. You're gettin' soft." Meanwhile it's 37 degrees w/25 mph gusting and a torrential downpour.

Don't mean to sound cynical or bitter because I'm not. I've been cycle-commuting since '87 and have heard very co-worker slam possible...in fact I've got them numbered. Deciding to cycle-commute is a commitment to a lifestyle in a very real sense and most people in this country are far, far too lazy to even conceive of it as an option.
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Old 04-03-11, 11:55 AM   #12
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Like others have mentioned before:
1) shower before work.
2) Don't over exert yourself on your ride.
3) Wash up in the sink.
4) Keep some baby wipes on hand
5) Watch what you eat (garlic and onions not so good)
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Old 04-03-11, 12:08 PM   #13
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I tend to sweat pretty readily on any jaunt longer than a few miles, so dressing in my work clothes has never been an option for me - shower clean or not, sweat spots on the pits, back, and crotch just happen, and take a while to evaporate. Again, not an option for me.
I've been lucky enough to have access to showers in the past few years, but spent about a year in an office like yours (no shower). I would pack my clothes into a backpack or panniers, and I kept a small kit at work with the basics - soap, toothbrush, washclothx2, towel, deodorant, lotion. I also kept my shoes at the office, plus at least one pair of underwear and socks. I would arrive early to cool down while getting settled in for the day, then I would retreat to the bathroom for my morning ritual. I would wet the washcloths in the sink and get one mildly soapy. I would take everything into a stall and get nekkid, then use the soapy and plain washcloths to clean up. Then, towel off, get dressed, nice n fresh.

How long is your commute? That also makes a difference.

Is there a health club or gym in the vicinity of your office? If so, it is worth looking into a basic membership to make use of the shower facilities.
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Old 04-03-11, 12:26 PM   #14
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Ontop of general hygiene and cleaning up a bit when you arrive, keeping your pit hair short helps in a big way.
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Old 04-03-11, 12:38 PM   #15
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1. Definitely shower before going to work
2. Get a rear bike rack
3. Get a Hybrid Backpack to carry your backpack or suitcase to help reduce the sweating while you ride.
check my youtube channel for what a hybrid backpack is: http://www.youtube.com/user/bobbisighncommuter
4. When you're at work. Freshen up in the shower
5. Hang Dry your clothes under your desk so no one can see.
6. If you haven't done it already, wear a different set of cycling clothes everyday.
7. Reduce your pace

Enjoy!!!
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Old 04-03-11, 02:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
Meanwhile it's 37 degrees w/25 mph gusting and a torrential downpour.
What, that'll stop you? Wuss. That's almost balmy around these parts!

Also, I think you're attributing more malice to the coworkers than actually exists.
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Old 04-03-11, 02:10 PM   #17
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These tips work... I live in Louisiana, and if they work here, they'll work anywhere. Showers are nice, bu not as needed as you'd think.

Shower before you leave. All I do when I get to work is splash cold water on my face, and rinse my hair with cold water, then towel dry. Then a change of clothes, and I'm good all day.
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Old 04-03-11, 02:56 PM   #18
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I shower before work, but ride to work in my work clothes. It's 17mi one way and yeah I sweat. I've never been told I have BO, but of course that doesn't mean I don't have it. I'll say this: driving to work doesn't mean you don't have it either.

Wool underwear helps
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Old 04-03-11, 05:39 PM   #19
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Thanks so much everyone for the great responses!! I think I've got this covered!! I especially like the all the tips about the baby wipes, where to hang one's clothes, and leaving shoes at work. The suggestion about pace is a good common-sense suggestion, but one that I hadn't thought about. I'm a slow rider anyway. And I'll load up on body products!

I really appreciate all of the suggestions and I'll try to let you know how it goes. For now, I'm working and a (mid-life) grad student and don't have enough time to try out the bike-to-work route, but I long to be out on my bike.

Thanks!
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Old 04-03-11, 06:31 PM   #20
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I shower before work, and put in cycling clothes. Baby powder goes on the privates. After my long 15 mile commute in to work, I allow 15 minutes to cool down. Then I take an unscented baby wipe bath in the bathroom, use some underarm deodorant, soak my head in the sink, and put on work clothes.
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Old 04-03-11, 06:50 PM   #21
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Baby wipes are for babies. They usually smell like it too. I use 'Big Ones'. Bigger size means more coverage and doesn't smell like flowers/powder.

http://wetones.com/BigOnes.aspx
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Old 04-03-11, 08:46 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
What, that'll stop you? Wuss. That's almost balmy around these parts!

Also, I think you're attributing more malice to the coworkers than actually exists.
Having started year-round cycle-commuting in Chicago over 20 years ago and being in my late 50s it would seem I'm due a senior discount, don't cha think? What started as a financial necessity has become a welcome respite and stress reliever. That, plus investment in 200.00 worth of rain gear has made me a little more determined to ride in whatever Nature presents.

Yeah, you're probably right I should lighten up. Hasn't happened in a while. Most of my present co-workers know me pretty well and accept my eccentricities.

That being said I stand by my final statement.
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Old 04-03-11, 10:31 PM   #23
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Couple of tips.

Merino base layer and work t-shirt (e.g.) . You can wear while you ride, and then keep wearing it at work. You can do this all week and it won't smell. Its comfortable too. If you wear bike clothes to work and change, then you can stash one of these at work to change into all week. It works a lot better than keeping several cotton undershirts that eventually start smelling, and have to be taken back and forth to work to be to laundered.



Rubbing alcohol is good, but it can be messy (it stains furniture with white spots). I prefer this alcohol aerosol meant for cleaning computer parts. Its applies more evenly and conveniently than liquid alcohol, with more cooling action.

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Old 04-03-11, 11:10 PM   #24
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My 13-mile commute left me sweat-soaked with road grit and dead bugs plastered all over me. It feels like sticky sandpaper. Riding in work clothes was not an option. The bike specific clothes are much more comfy on those 100F+ rides home in the summer.
* Panniers with work clothes. Keep shoes, belts, sweaters at office.
* Keep a clean-up kit (small bucket, wash rags, toiletries) at office
* Fully-dressed sink shampool with cold water (warm weather). Finish in roomy handicap stall stripped. scrub with soapy washrag, then dip clean washrag into clear water bucket and wipe soapy water off. Use a very thin microfiber towel (dries quick, packs light)
* Leave the restroom as clean as when you found it so nobody complains
* Rinse out any really funky bike clothes in the sink. I kept a 9" fan at my desk to circulate air and help them dry.
* Nice if you can hang clothes somewhere out of sight. It worked well in one office, not so great where I am now. Fortunately we're pretty easy about each other's quirks.
The restroom was so close to my office that I found it much faster than other office areas where the showers were 1/2 mile away. I always felt so fresh and clean afterwards. There was no temptation to dawdle in the shower, either.
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Old 04-04-11, 02:19 AM   #25
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Except for maybe a few days during July/August, DC doesn't actually get hotter than about 70 degrees in the morning. Most likely, your skin will be damp but not sweating buckets unless you just sweat a lot. It is the afternoon ride that will get you.
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