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  1. #1
    Member Eurostar's Avatar
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    Cycling in dirty clothes when stealth camping

    Say you're stealth camping for several days straight, which is not something I've done - yet. You don't have a shower, you don't pass a handy river or laundrette/washeteria, and you run out of clean cycling clothes. When I wear yesterday's cycling gear it's agony, especially in a warm climate - the dried salt from yesterday's sweat makes them itch so much. And the smell's not great. Plus such bad hygiene between your legs invites some nasty health problems.

    So I've been thinking about strategies for dealing with this. In fact I've been having a bit of a brainstorm. Here are my untested (and quite possibly moronic) ideas:

    (1) fill my 8 litres worth of water containers the usual way (begging) and rinse the sweat out of my clothes in a plastic bag. Put 2 litres of water in the bag, wring them out and repeat.

    (2) put zinc-based cream (either nappy/diaper rash cream or certain brands of sunblock) on my body to defeat the itching and chafing from the salt. (I carry this kind of cream anyway because when I cycle for 10 hours a day in sweat-soaked shorts I get truly horrible chafing on my unmentionables. A pharmacist advised zinc-based cream and it works superbly.)

    (3) buy a shower head attachment for my 5 litre Ortlieb water sack, stand under it and shower with my clothes on. (how long will the 5 litres last? will it be enough to get the sweat out of the clothes?)

    (4) use wet wipes in my armpits and crotch

    (5) shave the above areas to reduce the smell

    Discuss.

  2. #2
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    i dunno, i just deal with it. hasn't been a problem, and i've been wearing some dirty ****.

  3. #3
    Member Eurostar's Avatar
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    Er, right. Try to imagine that your clothes are causing you agony, that you don't enjoy pain, and that you are the sensitive type who doesn't like being so stinky that people in your vicinity are having a hard time breathing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    The shower head for the water bag is a good idea. I use the MSR Dromedary bags. I have a couple of different sized ones, usually use either the 6 or 10 litre one for the shower. I like the black ones, fill it up and put on the top of the rack and it will get nice and warm in the sun I also use baby wipes to keep the critical body areas clean. I usually can find a public restroom somewhere along the road to clean my spare shorts then let them dry on the rack as I ride (nothing like airing laundry in public )

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  5. #5
    Hooked on Touring
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    My eyes start to water around perfume and cologne.
    Three days without a shower??
    It just helps to keep the bugs away.
    Different strokes for different folks.

  6. #6
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    I use the antibacterial nappy creme a UK brand called Sudocrem, it forms a film you can scrape off and reapply a fresh layer. ( sounds gross typing it but)

    it works for me

    The first time on a long trip, one tries to stay clean and fresh ,showering is great, when you can find a shower, bathing in a stream or lake ( no soap) is refreshing, but if there is no water about then, you just get used to being dirty.

    rotate shorts, I sometimes wear both pairs at once, (Lycra with chamois) and put the outside ones to the inside. So they never really dry out to form the salt cake.

    If you are bothered by ingrowing butt hairs, have it waxed before you go.

    I have tried the baby/wet wipe scenario but you run out and then back to square one.

    Just have a shower/bath/wipe down whenever you can, and try to stay as clean as the environment lets you. It is always the environment that dictates the strategy. If there is lots of water, great, if not

    5 litres of water is sometimes all you have left to drink and cook, and the next water source is 50, 60,100 miles away. the choice is yours. In these types of places the smell of the locals covers any personal hygiene problems I assure you.

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  7. #7
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eurostar
    Say you're stealth camping for several days straight, which is not something I've done - yet. You don't have a shower, you don't pass a handy river or laundrette/washeteria, and you run out of clean cycling clothes.

    Well these days there are so many convenience stores that I do the following:

    (1) Dash into the mens room. Run the water in the sink till it gets really hot.

    (2) Whip off my cycling jersey and wash it in the sink and get it clean and soapy. Use it as a washcloth from...err, one head to the other.

    (3) wash the shirt again in the sink, put it back on after ya squeeze it as dry as ya can.

    (4) clean up the sink and area around it, leaving it cleaner than ya found it...

    (5) walk out of the door with a nice smile on your face.

    During this summer's heat waves I did this several times a day. It was a lifesave, since it helped cool me off and make me presentable. I do shave the "nether regions" so that its easier to keep cool and clean.

    roughstuff
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  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    When I toured in Australia, I went some relatively lengthy times without a shower. My first two months there were COLD, and the idea of getting up in the morning and having a shower in the campgrounds where one was available was a very painful notion. BRRRRR!! But there were often times when none were available at all.

    I also didn't have much in the way of any clothing at all with me.

    And there were often times when I rolled into the place we were camping for the night absolutely exhausted ... too tired and cold to make the effort to change into anything else.

    So ... I often spent several days (I think the longest stretch was 5 days) with no showers and wearing exactly the same clothes (cycling gear).

    I was fine. No itching, no rashes, no bacterial issues ... quite comfortable. It was convenient and fast ... I could just hop on the bicycle and go in the mornings and hop off the bicycle and sleep at night. And the best part was that when I went into a store to buy something ... I often had the check-out line completely to myself!!

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    wsl.org

  10. #10
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Machka is right!
    It really depends on your personal acceptance of cleanliness. I can bike for days with just a few wipes with an alcohol towel, then I smell my pits and I have to have a shower and a bath. There is no hard and fast rule and when you are stealth camping, who will you offend?

  11. #11
    Hooked on Touring
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    Gotta agree with Machka - 100%.
    Some people may be more prone to rashes, etc.
    But there are times when I have been miles from nowhere -
    With everything is dirty and damp and/or wet - including me.
    What good would it do to change?

    Of course, we're not supposed to say that on this forum.
    Sorry, I forgot. Let me rephrase.
    In twenty years of touring I have always been spotlessly clean -
    And had a fresh set of clothes twice a day.
    Every town has a secret, free hot shower and laundry for touring cyclists.
    PLUS there are Swedish massages at the top of every mountain pass.

    Yeah, yeah, unfortunately there are times when it gets pretty grubby.
    But the trade-off is those moments when it all comes together.
    Anyone who has been there knows what I'm talking about.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eurostar
    (4) use wet wipes in my armpits and crotch

    (5) shave the above areas to reduce the smell

    Discuss.
    Believe me, crotch shaving is NOT (repeat, NOT) a good idea for *any* cyclist, even if there *are* Swedish massages at the top of every hill . Your itching will become intolerable... and there is almost nothing you can do to overcome it except wait for the follicles to recover and the new hair to grow long enough not to be bothersome. If you already suffer from itching from deodorants under the arms, then shaving also will not solve that problem, but only make it worse.

    The amount of hair you have on your body has nothing to do with the smell or the amount you sweat (and there is an argument that says the more hair you have, the better the cooling because of the added surface area your sweat collects on). It's the bacteria that grow that cause it. Wiping with your wet wipes is a good strategy. Even a brisk rubdown with a dry towel is useful. And be meticulous in wiping your butt at the toilet -- it helps keep the skids marks and smells at bay. A wipeover before climbing into your sleeping bag will help, too.

    Having said that about body hair, I am an advocate of the No 1 or 2 comb on the hair trimmer for the head, both for coolness and for washing. See below. Shaving my head is not a particularly good idea for me because of sunburn issues and that itch problem...

    If sweating makes you itchy, have you considered natural fibres such as cotton and wool (I mention cotton because, even though it's not good for cold weather, you are going to Cuba, and cotton is probably a better fibre than polyester and other artificial fabrics in staying cool in tropical temperatures). Wool is excellent for socks in hot or cold weather, and likewise on the upper body if it is thin enough -- look in your local Salvos thrift shop in the women's section in particular for tops that are merino wool and a fine knit. Some companies make bike shorts with wool content -- Ground Effects in New Zealand is one. Others make a mix of cotton and Elastin, similar to the fabric in normal women's tights.

    Another point -- look seriously at (a) your rehydration strategies; (b) the exertion on your rides and (c) your intake of salts. If you sweat profusely because of high exertion, maybe knocking back your pace a cog or two might help (and allow you to see the scenery more). If you are sweating heaps and are itching because of salt on the skin, then you also need to look at electrolyte replenishment more seriously. This won't necessarily stop your itching, but in conjunction with (a) and (b) might help reduce it.


    As to showers with the water bladder, I did this after each day's work in fruit picking when I was remotely camped, and it does work. Because you are in Cuba, you can use the sun to heat the water, and it is quite effective. But also be aware it takes a while, like 5 to 6 hours for the water to heat up. But 5 litres isn't going to get far, and you will have to have a way to switch the water on and off while you soap up. It's not that easy. The bladder I had held 25 litres, and even with a tap, I would only just get through the soaping and rinsing cycles. It's a good idea to keep your hair very short, because washing hair can be very time and water consuming.


    Anyway, enjoy Cuba.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  13. #13
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    I once went three months without a bath or a shower. Some accidents are like that you can't wash until all the wounds have healed. You can't wash at all under the plaster. In the old days people used to bathe weekly. Prefer to bathe every day, but I won't pack it in on that account.

  14. #14
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    This problem is exactly why I try to camp at state or national park campgrounds without paying as often as possible. I'll stealth camp for a couple of nights in a row, but I like to take a shower now and then, and I always try to wash my cycling clothes out at night and hang them on my panniers to dry during my next day's ride. I've found that I can easily get away without paying for a campsite a lot of the time if I arrive later in the evening.

    I usually carry a 10L MSR dromedary bag, but I've been leaving the shower attachement at home on recent tours. It just isn't a very practical way to take a shower unless there is no other alternative. But carrying enough water to wash your clothes in lieu of a shower sounds like a pretty good idea.

    If you are absolutely opposed to ever camping in real campgrounds, you could always stop at a campground during the day to shower and wash your clothes and then continue riding to get to a stealth campsite.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

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    Sound advice Rowan. I think I will stick with my Assos shorts because the pad in them is the best. But a merino jersey could be just the ticket. I actually have one from Rapha, but have rejected it for this trip because at 11 oz. it's too thick and heavy to dry overnight, and it's white. I've looked at the Ground Effect site but am wary of their jerseys because (just like Rapha) they are only just over half Merino. The rest is synthetic. Wouldn't a higher Merino content be better? I'm tempted to follow the example of this guy http://wildworks.co.nz/csr/ who used 100% Merino from www.icebreaker.com on a 40 day desert crossing. Icebreaker doesn't make cycling jerseys, so how about this from Ibex? It's 95% Merino and 5% Lycra. http://www.ibexwear.com/F06/View_Pro...CategoryLine=#

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    laundry

    when i thru hiked the appalacian trail, we put dirty clothes in a zip lock,large,of course. put soap and water in it and put it on the top of our packs. at lunch, rinse and wring them out and hang on our packs to dry.simple and easy steven

  17. #17
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    The boxed wines are great as a water bag. After you're done with the wine, fill them up with water, leave them in the sun for a hot shower.

    I swing dance a lot - I don't shave with a razor but with a battery powered razor for 'trimming.' Works great and definately doesn't have that uncomfortable razor burn. I find that trimming down under the arms really helps keep the sweat and smell down.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Just so you know: the strategies enumerated by y'all in this thread have completely killed my interest in stealth camping.

  19. #19
    Member Eurostar's Avatar
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    But we were only talking about the lack of showers - wait til we get on to being woken in the middle of the night by locals telling you to leave, or having your food stolen by wild animals!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eurostar
    (3) buy a shower head attachment for my 5 litre Ortlieb water sack, stand under it and shower with my clothes on. (how long will the 5 litres last? will it be enough to get the sweat out of the clothes?)

    Discuss.
    If you've got the water supply for it, I would use the Ortlieb sack and shower head to wash just the clothes, then take a shower yourself.

    Note to Peterpan, there was a time when people bathed a lot less often than once a week. My father used to tell about a school classmate (Ohio, 1930s) who was sewn into his long underwear at the start of winter, and had the long underwear removed at the end of winter. In medieval times it was said that "a bath when you're born, and again when you're laid out, will see you through this world and into the next".

    I agree with Rowan, merino wool in various weights is wonderful stuff for socks and upper body garments. Synthetic cycling shorts are still nice, though, you can rinse them out quickly in a sink and they dry quickly.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eurostar
    But we were only talking about the lack of showers - wait til we get on to being woken in the middle of the night by locals telling you to leave, or having your food stolen by wild animals!
    Or having a grizzly bear walk around your tent in the middle of the night and having the tracks in the mud the next morning to prove it! These - and more joys - can all be yours!

  22. #22
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    Hot Springs

    Has anybody mentioned hot springs?
    I bike mostly in the west and seek out natural springs n remote places.
    On rare occasions you can find one without anybody around, but there are enough flower people out there that you will often meet up with others. Weekends can be tough since free hot springs can attract a lot of drunks and stoners - - definitely no fun. But weekdays are great. I hit a couple of springs on my recent trip in western Wyoming. Nothing like soaking in toasty water and looking up at the mountains. Sure beats the moldy shower stalls at the KOA.

    PS - Please, please, please - never wash your clothes in hot springs. The detergent will harm the springs.

  23. #23
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Spit Showers; I know a guy that can take an entire shower with 1 liter of h20. He strips, squats,fills mouth w/ water, squirts needed areas(pits and crotch), adds a little soap, fills mouth squirts water. He then does the same for the crotch of his shorts. He swears by it.
    I myself heat a small amt of water, lather areas(clothes or body, just key areas), rinse with little wet towel or water. The key is NOT to use a lot of soap. Don't lather arms, legs torso, just key areas. I use small wicking towels to dryoff. This is very refreshing but i don't do it every night.

  24. #24
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    If you are super light what about taking a speedo to change into in case you find a water source. And a large plastic ziplock bag. You can fill the ziplock bag with a little water and soap along with your cycling jersey and shorts and then adjatate it for a while. Then do the same to rinse.

    If you can carry the weight carry an extra pair of shorts and jersey. If it's really hot, putting on wet, freshly washed shorts and jersey will cool you off a lot.

  25. #25
    40 yrs bike touring
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    I have used a product called NO RINSE body bath for several years while bike and kayak touring. Mix one ounce with 32 ounces of water and apply with a wash cloth. No rinsing. Towel dry. Easy to use and it feels great. Eight ounce bottle cost $4 US. Biodegradeableand no alcohol used.
    It is made by N/R Laboratories, Centerville, Ohio,USA. [1-800-223-9348]
    I found it at an outdoor store while on tour. I assume that it is still available. Hope this helps.

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