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Cycling to work that doesn't have a shower (need advice, ideas, strategies)

Old 05-07-15, 01:50 PM
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techman
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Cycling to work that doesn't have a shower (need advice, ideas, strategies)

I am starting a new job that is 4 miles from my home.
I'd like to bike each day but the company doesn't have a shower or locker room.
On cooler days and when it's dry I could probably be fine with cycling slow into work with my nice clothes.
Although I will still have "helmet head" that I would like to fix, and I want to avoid getting grease from my chain on my pants.
However on warmer days (70s in the morning commute) or when it rains, I still want to bike. But I would need to freshen up and change clothes.
I'd also like to cycle to lunch and back and fix "helmet head" when I return, again also avoiding getting chain grease on my pants.
To those who've regularly cycled to work that doesn't have showers, please share your advice, ideas and strategies.
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Old 05-07-15, 01:56 PM
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My commute is 3 miles each way. I go kind of easy in the morning so I don't get sweaty and crank it on the way home since I can clean up.

I also can wear jeans into the office so that helps. You don't say just how "nice" your clothes are, however, and that might be a factor.

As long as you are dry helmet head can be fixed with a hairbrush, and a pants strap or clip will keep the grease off your leg.

I try to avoid riding in the rain, although here in SoCal that is not a huge issue...
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Old 05-07-15, 01:56 PM
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Here are my notes! I don't bike to work, but I do bike to errands in that distance range!

1. Bike slow. Seriously. It helps a ton.
2. You'll be a bit warm after your ride, cool down with a cold glass of water!
3. Bring some wipes: baby wipes / facial wipes and use that to clean up your face. And reapply deodorant
4. Dress in layers. It is better to be cold at the beginning of the ride
5. As for the grease problem? I don't know, I have a chain guard or wear dresses/skirts most of the time! You can roll up your pants I guess.
6. I have a rain poncho, but it hasn't rained so I haven't used it.
7. Helmet head? What is your hair like? I have done a silk scarf or athletic band that helps me, but I likely do not have hair like you, I am black with chin length relaxed hair. I am trying to protect my edges. I also do ponytails sometimes.
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Old 05-07-15, 01:58 PM
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Millions of people in northern Europe (and a few in the U.S.) ride bicycles to work and lunch every day without getting sweaty, helmet hair, or chain grease. The keys are to ride a bike with a proper chaincase (City Bikes | LocalMile), skip the helmet, and ride at a comfortable pace.
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Old 05-07-15, 02:01 PM
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Where are you located? What is the weather like? What is your route like? Flat, hilly, mountains? What types of road options do you have?

If you have a derailleur bike then avoiding grease can be a problem. Look for a bike with an internal geared hub (IGH) and chain guard (or better a full chaincase).

Some people think helmets are critical, others not. Given that the rate of head injuries (TBI) is the same in countries with mandatory helmet laws, those where half of people wear helmets like the U.S. and countries where nobody wears a helmet like The Netherlands, they don't appear to actually do anything. Well, other than make helmet hair. And a lot of money for manufacturers and bike shops.

In Minnesota the only days I'd get sweaty were extremely high humidity days and then even walking from your car to a building can make you sweaty. I typically ride about 11 - 13 mph but occasionally a tad slower in high humidity. As mentioned above, in cooler weather if you start out slightly chilly (not uncomfortably so though) then you'll be just right for your ride.

Most days I wear jeans and a button down oxford or similar. Some days I wear a suit. Both work well.

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Old 05-07-15, 02:01 PM
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I ride to work 5 miles each way (pretty short right now, that may shoot up to 14 miles each way). I wear Mountain Hardware or other lightweight and breathable active T-Shirts and I fold my pants and dress shirt in my pannier for work (I keep a $30 pair of slip on leather shoes in my desk at the office). I usually wear Levis Commuter jeans or on crappy/rainy days I wear a pair White Sierra pants/shorts (convertible). It's perfect - I can ride hard without worrying about sweating so much. Also not having a backpack helps. I don't worry about helmet hair - curly hair that I keep short.
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Old 05-07-15, 02:05 PM
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For me, it's all about a nice pace to work. Even with my long commute, in warm Southern California, I have never needed to take a shower before work. On those rare days that I'm not feeling super fresh, a couple baby wipes is all that's needed. I keep my hair short, and have sundries at work to freshen up with. I can't imagine having to take a shower after a short ride, even if it was hot. Don't over think it. Just take it easy to work, and if you feel you need to sweat, kill it on the ride home.
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Old 05-07-15, 02:08 PM
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When I first get to work, I sit at a desk, eat breakfast, and start working. After I've cooled off 20-30 min, I wipe myself down and change clothes. This time of year it's everything but my shoes.

Worse case you can change in the restroom. Use paper towels to dry off with. It involves getting to work early and takes a few minutes to change back when I leave.
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Old 05-07-15, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by locolobo13 View Post
When I first get to work, I sit at a desk, eat breakfast, and start working. After I've cooled off 20-30 min, I wipe myself down and change clothes. This time of year it's everything but my shoes.

Worse case you can change in the restroom. Use paper towels to dry off with. It involves getting to work early and takes a few minutes to change back when I leave.
If it can be done in Phoenix (aka: The Pizza Oven! ) it can be done anywhere...
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Old 05-07-15, 02:26 PM
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1) Check with the janitorial staff to see if the building may have a shower hidden away somewhere. Several of the places I worked did have showers that hardly anyone knew about - they were there so the janitors could clean up before going home if they had to use some caustic chemicals as part of their work. E.g. one was hidden down in the basement behind the HVAC equipment and another was in a restroom behind a door labeled 'MTCE ONLY.'
2) As mentioned, having a shower isn't generally necessary. Ride slow and allow yourself a cool down period. If you want to change into work clothes after riding in cycling shorts/jersey, then do so after you've cooled down some. On especially hot/humid days using some wipes or damp paper towels in the restroom can be almost as good as a real shower.
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Old 05-07-15, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by techman View Post
I am starting a new job that is 4 miles from my home.
I'd like to bike each day but the company doesn't have a shower or locker room.
On cooler days and when it's dry I could probably be fine with cycling slow into work with my nice clothes.
Although I will still have "helmet head" that I would like to fix, and I want to avoid getting grease from my chain on my pants.
However on warmer days (70s in the morning commute) or when it rains, I still want to bike. But I would need to freshen up and change clothes.
I'd also like to cycle to lunch and back and fix "helmet head" when I return, again also avoiding getting chain grease on my pants.
To those who've regularly cycled to work that doesn't have showers, please share your advice, ideas and strategies.
I've spent the last 5 years biking 8.5 to 11 miles (one way) to an office without showers. Before I leave the house, I shower, shave, etc and use a good amount of deodorant. I have always brought office clothes in a bag and changed at the office (storeroom). Today was mid-60s and high humidity, I was running with sweat when I got here. I took the first 30 minutes to work at my desk in my commuter clothes (casual cycling clothes). After the sweat settles down, I change into office clothes. I keep a clean towel in my office to wipe down on rainy days. If you're concerned about body odor, have some deodorant at the office and baby wipes are handy on extra sweaty days. I had my boss tell me (more than once) that he can't believe I bike to work and never stink.

It took me a few months to feel confident biking to the office without a shower - I'd had a shower facility at my previous job and was unsure if I'd stink up the office.
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Old 05-07-15, 02:43 PM
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All of this carrying clothes and changing clothes and showering and using the janitor's shower and cooling down and baby wipes and dealing with helmet hair seems really complicated. Glad I just get on my bike, ride, and then go in to work. :-)
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Old 05-07-15, 04:31 PM
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South Texas, 10 miles each way, no shower. I throw my office clothes in my panniers and go.
Since I'm the first one in the office, I usually wait till I've cooled down a little then do a quick sponge bath with baby wipes and change.
I do run errands and go to lunch in my office clothes. Rarely do I get really sweaty - I just go slower than usual and drink a lot of water.
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Old 05-07-15, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
All of this carrying clothes and changing clothes and showering and using the janitor's shower and cooling down and baby wipes and dealing with helmet hair seems really complicated. Glad I just get on my bike, ride, and then go in to work. :-)
You're making it sound too simple. It's got to be more complicated then that.
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Old 05-07-15, 09:44 PM
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My commute is 8.5 miles one way. No showers at my work either. Here's what I do ;

1. Shower before I leave.
2. Bring change of clothes.
3. When I arrive, immediately go to restroom.
4. Rise face, hair with cool water. Wipe off with paper towels.
5. Change into dry work clothes.

Never had any coworkers mention that I smell or anything. Deodorant is key. Also, a body spray helps give you that fresh smell.
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Old 05-07-15, 09:58 PM
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Changing clothing for 4 miles seems pretty excessive to me! Personally I find that I held up well on a 4 mile ride, as long as my outfit was breathable and not too hot. But sometimes my face gets a little too sweaty, and it is nice to wash off and reapply my face lotion.
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Old 05-07-15, 11:06 PM
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My commute is currently around 8 miles each way and I could do it in street clothes, but I prefer bike clothes so I can feel free to go fast, sprint when I want to, go fast up the hill, take a long ride home, etc. No showers at work, but I do take a bath in the morning before I leave. In terms of bike clothes, layers are good: arm warmers, sleeveless base layer under wicking shirt or jersey, wind jacket/vest, etc. If you don't want to wear bike clothes, my advice would be to avoid cotton. Polyester and wool are good materials.
I'm female and keep shoes, clothes, hair/hygeine products at work. Dry shampoo is useful and I find that I prefer alcohol wipes over baby wipes (no sticky residue). I use a backpack and carry underwear, tools, lights, lunch, etc. I either bring my lunch in my backpack or walk somewhere nearby for lunch. I usually pull by hair back in a bun or ponytail, but occasionally will try to wear it down. I sometimes put on some powder and eye make-up at work. If I have a meeting first thing in the morning, then I do the bare minimum to be presentable. Otherwise, I'll spend more time getting ready.

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Old 05-07-15, 11:08 PM
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I ride 6 miles each way in hot and humid Florida. Arrive and take 5-10 minutes to cool down fully, then go into the restroom and do the 'towel bath / baby wipe' thing. Change into your normal work clothes and apply body spray or deodorant. It's easy. The barrier is only mental.
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Old 05-07-15, 11:44 PM
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Old 05-08-15, 07:30 AM
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I bike a few days per week, approx. 9 miles each way. I take a "***** bath" when I get to work. Baby wipes, wash cloth and hand towel all in the handicap stall. I pack the clothes I will be wearing in a plastic bag so if I get caught in the rain they stay dry. I leave my work shoes at work so I do not have to pack them each day. I live in South Florida, so I am sweaty regardless of how slow I would ride. It is also not uncommon to leave and all of sudden have pouring rain or flooded streets and large trucks drowning you in a wall of water.

Things I have learned make sure your lunch is packed in a leak proof bag. I can't tell you the amount of times I have had to wear green bean soaked socks when I changed out at work. It also saves your work clothes from rain and such. As for helmet head, I just put my hair in a ponytail. I have also stuck my head under the sink to wet it down. Keep deodorant and personal items at work so you don’t have to pack them each day.
Once this is all figured out, just have fun and enjoy the ride. My favorite part is seeing the birds, gator and other creatures along the way each day.
I have also threatened my cubby mates that if they make me mad I will not do any of the above
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Old 05-08-15, 07:31 AM
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Chain solution: Dress like a hipster! Skinny jeans don't get caught in chains!
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Old 05-08-15, 07:51 AM
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I've got a 10 mile commute, no showers.

I've done panniers before, now I just do backpack
1. I wear exercise clothes for the ride
2. I wait 10-15 minutes once I get in to cool down
3. I use unscented babywipes when getting changed in the bathroom
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Old 05-08-15, 08:50 AM
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I don't know where you live...but maybe just ride slow? I have a 3-4 mile ride if I cycle from the wife's office. So far in the morning it hasn't been a problem. I'm a little sweaty when I get in, but a trip to the bathroom and a damp, cool paper towel do wonders. It also hasn't hit summer yet.
Maybe on rainy days just wear athletic clothes and change?
My dress code is super lax, so in the summer I wear shorts and a polo.
As for helmet hair - do you feel you need a helmet? Not wearing one will also help you to keep cooler. I wear mine when I am in stretchy clothes but skip it when in normal clothes. I just don't feel it is always necessary. I also keep my hair short, which really has nothing to do with cycling as it is just my preference.
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Old 05-08-15, 08:57 AM
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Sponge bath in the Loo ..
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Old 05-08-15, 09:05 AM
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I need my car for work, so it stays at the office M-F. Monday am, clothes for the week driven in, friday pm, dirty clothes driven home. My ride is 18 miles one way, 2-6 trips per week. We have 2 private bathrooms, so wash and rinse in sink with wash cloth and towel. Deodorant and body spray too. Do you have a gym nearby for shower use if needed?
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