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Old 05-19-05, 06:52 PM   #1
pritch
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Long Distance Biking Hygiene

Ok so something some people might not think about but im planning to go on an 8 week adventure and we will be sleeping in bivi bags or whatever each night. So what are your tips for keeping clean on long distance journeys?

Like how many pairs of clothes etc?
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Old 05-19-05, 06:57 PM   #2
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You need to be wearing clean cycling shorts every day. You'll need at least a couple of pairs if you're going to wash them each night.

Are you carrying all your gear on your bikes?

Fortunately on my long distance tours I've had a back up vehicle to carry gear. I've always carried at least 3 pairs of cycling shorts and 3 jerseys.
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Old 05-19-05, 07:02 PM   #3
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Wow, that depends so much on what your standards of 'hygiene' are. I will say though, that your actual riding gear such as shorts and jersey you can wear for several days before it's considered dirty. I change riding sox every two days, shorts every 10 or 12, shirts every 6 or 7, and whatever I'm wearing under the shorts (if you do) every two or three. Fundamentally, this is not so much based on how 'fresh' you want to feel on the road but how much weight you can endure. Generally, as far as street clothes go (the ones you'd wear to museums, bars, and restaurants at your stops) you can bring the bare minimum. A single pair of jeans and two polo shirts should suffice. Don't forget you always have the option of a laundromat and most towns with more than a few thousand people will have one. Hope this steers you in the right direction.
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Old 05-19-05, 07:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaCreations
You need to be wearing clean cycling shorts every day. You'll need at least a couple of pairs if you're going to wash them each night.

Are you carrying all your gear on your bikes?

Fortunately on my long distance tours I've had a back up vehicle to carry gear. I've always carried at least 3 pairs of cycling shorts and 3 jerseys.
I've never toured with a support vehicle so I guess if you have this option Comfort is King! Bring as much as you can!
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Old 05-19-05, 07:04 PM   #5
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Baby wipes can be a huge factor especially if you are stealth camping.
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Old 05-19-05, 08:53 PM   #6
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Well we have no vehicle just our bikes. Also to the guy who doesnt change his shorts for 10-12 days... my god id hate to be stuck behind you Seriously though I will just have my bike and whatever I can carry. I'm not sure if its best to have a rucksack or if you should attach the gear to the sides of the bike.

I was thinking.

money, credit card, passport
Bivy sack, sleeping bag, the mattres thing to go below it
rope
knife, firestarting kit, first aid
canopy for setting up camps and to cover the bikes
3 pairs of shorts, 3 t shirts, 3 socks, 3 boxer shorts
say 2 litres of water
phone
bike toolkit
bike lock kit
towel, soap, teeth wipes

What do you guys think who have done it before?
There are 3 of us so far and its a trip from amsterdam to italy. So I think if another guy brings a saw we will be ok. We could also take turns with the canvas materal for the canopy/bike cover
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Old 05-19-05, 09:15 PM   #7
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To balance the need to keep weight/bulk to a minimum and stay relatively clean, I carry one pair of cycling pants and one cycling jersey, and wash them every night. I have been known to bring these items in the shower with me!
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Old 05-19-05, 09:21 PM   #8
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for any length tour I bring two shorts and two jersey's. Like Acantor I wash my stuff every day (bring a little bottle of antibacterial soap)what doesn't dry overnight I pin to the rear rack and let it dry as I ride.
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Old 05-19-05, 09:49 PM   #9
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I second the use of baby wipes. Some places water is too valuable to waste on washing (desert camping in Big Bend for example). A couple wet wipes go a long way toward good personal hygiene.

Take at least two pairs of cycling clothes. When you arrive at your days destination, wash the shorts, jersey, socks, skullcap, etc. in a sink with a little woolite. It only takes a few minutes to get the clothes clean. String up a clothesline and let them dry in the evening.

BTW, get a flat rubber drain stopper at walmart. Most sinks you come across will not have a drain plug. In a pinch you can use a plastic bag at the bottom of the sink. the water pressure will hold it tight against the drain. But a cheap rubber stopper is better.
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Old 05-20-05, 12:05 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by supcom
Take at least two pairs of cycling clothes. When you arrive at your days destination, wash the shorts, jersey, socks, skullcap, etc. in a sink with a little woolite. It only takes a few minutes to get the clothes clean. String up a clothesline and let them dry in the evening.

What's a skullcap ?
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Old 05-20-05, 01:19 AM   #11
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anti-fungal, antibiotic cream, vaseline, disinfectant powder work wonders when you can't stay clean despite best efforts
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Old 05-20-05, 01:27 AM   #12
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I pretty much demand a clean shower each night...and an enough pairs of cycling shorts/ jerseys that should they not be dry each morning, you have an extra to fall back on...the non sag tours I have done...Needed to have open mesh bag for the shorts to dry out atop my rack should they not yet be dry..
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Old 05-20-05, 02:46 AM   #13
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Skull cap is a thin material cap to go on the head. Think swimming cap except in material instead of rubber.

I think on this you should go with what you feel comfortable. If you think you can get by on two pairs of shorts, good. I go with three pairs usually. The weight of a pair is negligible compared to the heavenly comfort of pulling on dry and odour-free pair of shorts in the morning.

I might go with two jerseys, and three pairs of socks (although there is a thought you go with just three socks -- two on to start, next day change left one and wash, put right on left, and new one on right; day two, repeat process. Different colours help in keeping track if the smell doesn't, and makes an interesting talking point).

Of course, washing depends on access to water, drying (and that can be a challenge in itself, despite the use of synthetics) and your discipline.

Wet wipes are great. If you sweat as much down there as I do, regular wiping will prevent painful pimples from forming in places you don't want, front centre, and rear!
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Old 05-20-05, 03:16 AM   #14
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I find some shop quality paper towels to be useful. Use as napkins, wipe down cooking utensils, wipe off soot on stove, etc. For people that are washing clothes each night, what do you do if it rains for 3 or 4 days straight?
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Old 05-20-05, 03:25 AM   #15
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A pair of cycling shorts, a pair of cycling shirts, these can be washed every night. 1 zip off trousers, the kind that the legs zip off to convert to shorts, then I have this shirt my daughter bought from New York for me and this shirt is amazing, the creases fold out as you wear it. 1 Fleace top. 2 pairs of socks and same for underwear.Thats it as far as clothes go. The trick is in wash & wear, why carry the extra weight. I also have a solar shower, available at most camp shops. The sun heats the water, if no sun then heat it up on the cooker, fire but at the end of the day a shower is a must, you feel great and clean and it also is relaxing. Agree with wet ones, wipe all cooking equipment with this then wash it out , you will use very little water this way. If you each carry a Army Poncho, then weight for each is min, and these can be clipped together to make a sheet, If I go with friends then I carry 2 bamboo poles with guy ropes sling the sheet @ 45 degrees going down to the opening of the tent this allows me to sit in peace what ever the weather, I also have 2 more ponchos to clip to the side, which ever way the wind blows to have 3 sides blocked off, The tent I have weighs just over 1 kg and with this set up 2 people can sleep, half in half out unaffected by the weather. The bikes go on either side inside the poncho area. If I am on my own then I just carry the one poncho.
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Old 05-20-05, 04:10 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tug
I find some shop quality paper towels to be useful. Use as napkins, wipe down cooking utensils, wipe off soot on stove, etc. For people that are washing clothes each night, what do you do if it rains for 3 or 4 days straight?
I find the paper towels very useful at home instead of rags for servicing the bikes. Probably not totally environmentally friendly, but I figure I ride an extremely friendly form of transport, so I am still way ahead.
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Old 05-20-05, 04:32 AM   #17
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Folks recommend "wet ones" or baby wipes, as do I. Another option is to use a small bottle of hand sanitizer. I use "Purell" brand, available in the US-sureley there is a European equivalent. It's basicly a gel, with a high % of ethyl alcohol.

Uses-to clean hands prior to eating (especially if sharing foods like chips/snacks+such). Add a bit to clothing you couldn't wash that day (inside crotch of shorts, underarm of shirts etc). Cleaning yourself after a sponge bath (armpits, crotch, feet). Use after a bathroom break-this particular use really helps keep shorts clean-because you are clean!

Another reason I like the gel is that there is less trash-when you need a "wipe" just add a few drops to some toilet or tissue paper. There is no packaging trash to carry, and the wipe can be burned (if safe to do so in that area).

[edit] Excellent soaps for washing clothes (and yourself), are the concentrated Dr Bronners brand. Available at probably every camping store (in the US) as well as natural food stores+perhaps large grocers. Obviously avoid the ones that may be appetizing to bears if traveling through bear country.

Last edited by Camel; 05-20-05 at 05:51 AM.
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Old 05-20-05, 05:08 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
I pretty much demand a clean shower each night...and an enough pairs of cycling shorts/ jerseys that should they not be dry each morning, you have an extra to fall back on...the non sag tours I have done...Needed to have open mesh bag for the shorts to dry out atop my rack should they not yet be dry..
I fall more in Cyclezealot camp, on my cross country, I think I had maybe 3 or 4 days (out of 117) without a shower. I brought 3 pairs of bike cloths and have decided to up that to 5. Clothing doesn't weigh much and there is (almost) always a laundramat within 5 days ride. I started out hand washing my cloths and decided that I did a poor job of it and with 3 sets, I had to do laundry too often. This might sound weird, but after about 3000 miles or so, riding every day, I had almost no body odor, maybe I sweat-out all the toxins that cause it. Anyway cloths would last several days by the end of my trip. Has anyone else experienced this?
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Old 05-20-05, 09:27 AM   #19
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The same pair of shirt and shorts can last me for several days at a time without feeling uncomfortable. I normally bring 3 pair of socks, 2 shorts, a couple of boxers and 2 to 3 t -shirts. Put the dirty laundry in a big plastic bag and when i have only one clean pair left i go hunting for a laundromat.
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Old 05-20-05, 09:58 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by mooncricket
anti-fungal, antibiotic cream, vaseline, disinfectant powder work wonders when you can't stay clean despite best efforts
Antifungal/desinfectant cream is a necessity for me when travelling (biking or not) in warmer climates or during the summer months... no matter how clean I keep myself. I once tried to get some in China because of a terrible rash around my ass and my thighs... after an hour trying to explain my problem to the clerk, I just decided to buy a couple of tubes and see which cream would work... none did! The moral is: bring your own!

Otherwise, wet wipes help a lot but nothing beats water and soap.
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Old 05-20-05, 11:43 AM   #21
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This might sound weird, but after about 3000 miles or so, riding every day, I had almost no body odor, maybe I sweat-out all the toxins that cause it. Anyway cloths would last several days by the end of my trip. Has anyone else experienced this?
Very True, I did not think of this till you mentioned it, I noticed this last year on my Italian tour, I thought it was the heat drying me out, did not sweat a whole load but had to stop for frequent leaks.
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Old 05-20-05, 01:16 PM   #22
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I do self-supporting cyclecamping and usually for reasonably long tours, my next being 3000 miles in France. Keep your gear light and easy to launder. Two pairs of racing shorts as they dry very quickly and it is important to wash the pair you're wearing every day. To wear dirty shorts is stupid as a boil on the backside can bring your tour to an abrupt end. For everything else wear a poly-cotton mix--not cotton as it absorbs moisture and is difficult to get dry. I wear one cotton/poly t-shirt and carry another and I wash the one I wear with my shorts. In France my gear usually dries in 20 mins. tops. Forget socks as they are a waste of time. I carry a pair of leisure shorts, again lightweight and a pair of poly/cott. trousers which I wear for eating out. I use Shimano cycling sandals so they also do for off the bike. A pair of light tights for chilly mornings along with a light poly/cott. anorak and I carry a set of L/w Helly Hanson themal basewear for emergencies. A light Goretex waterproof jacketm but no trousers and a cap for protection from the sun when I remember to wear it. A lightweight "travellers" towel which dries very quickly on the bike is also very useful.
I use shampoo for showering and for washing my clothes and have a small bottle of detergent for dishwashing duties. Add a stove (Triangia complete with pots ), tools and spares, a campers' washing line for drying clothes, a Thermarest, sleeping bag, headtorch, a small compass and a small radio and that's it really.
I'm always looking for ways to cut down as my knees complain about the weight.
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Old 05-20-05, 07:52 PM   #23
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On my recent tour, I frequently went as many as 5 days without a shower and sometimes even longer between laundry facilities ... and I often stayed in the same cycling clothes for that length of time too. The benefit of doing that, is that when you go into a grocery store to buy supper for the night, everyone moves out of the way and you are first in line!

I had two pair of cycling shorts with me, and I always wore one pair for at least 2-3 days before switching to the second pair.

I had one short-sleeved jersey, and a long-sleeved wool top that I basically lived in for two of the three months.

I had a few non-cycling clothes with me, and would try to change into them for nights, but sometimes it was too cold ... or I was too tired ... to change. So I frequently slept in my cycling attire.

It was nice when I was riding along the ocean because I'd take a dip in the ocean, wearing my cycling clothing, of course, in the middle of the day ... then I'd slosh over to a local beach-side restaurant to drip dry a bit before continuing on. I figured the ocean water probably cleaned things up a bit. The only problem with that was the sand.

As for non-cycling gear, someone here recommends bringing jeans and a polo shirt. If you're doing supported touring, maybe, but if you are on your own, don't bring jeans and a polo shirt. They are too heavy and take way too long to dry. Bring light zip-off trousers --the kind where the legs zip off so that they become shorts. They are light enough to dry fast, and they are versatile. Instead of a polo shirt, go with something in a polyester or nylon which will also be light and dry fast.
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Old 05-20-05, 08:55 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregw
This might sound weird, but after about 3000 miles or so, riding every day, I had almost no body odor, maybe I sweat-out all the toxins that cause it. Anyway cloths would last several days by the end of my trip. Has anyone else experienced this?
I have to say "yes". I can only think improved fitness and acclimatisation to the environment are the two factors at play in reducing sweat output.
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Old 05-21-05, 12:36 AM   #25
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On our trip around Australia we had a couple of pairs of clothes which we alternated no more than every 3 days, but we always had clean underwear. We also washed or rinsed the clothes as often as we could. We also took a shower in a caravan (RV) park or roadhouse when we could and we had a 20 litre solar shower bag for when we camped next to a river or creek and we even used a plastic 1 litre milk bottle with holes in the top (like a shower rose) for when we had just a bit of spare water and we found we could both get a rinse off shower out of 1 litre (500ml each). Apart from that we always carried and used baby wipes. I have also heard of people using alcohol swabs for those groin and under arm areas when there is nothing else.
I don't think there is any perfect way to do it, just a lot of good methods as shown on this thread, so I think the best thing to do is to try them all and stick with the ones you like.
Regards
Andrew
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Last edited by andrewh; 05-21-05 at 12:52 AM.
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