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How to reduce sweating?

Old 04-02-17, 06:05 PM
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johngwheeler
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How to reduce sweating?

OK, not the most pleasant of questions, but what can I do to reduce the amount I sweat when riding for transport (as opposed to exercise)?

My local area has quite a few hills and arched bridges that involve 5-8% ascents, which require a bit of effort to get up. I generally find that after 10-15 minutes I've broken a sweat, particularly in the warmer months, and after my 45 minute commute, I'm very hot and dripping sweat. This is OK because we have showers at work.

However, if I want to cycle somewhere without a shower, it's a no go.

I am 178cm/71kg (5'10"/157lb), so not overweight, am my average heart-rate (when navigating the hills) is at least 130bpm (often over 140bpm). At some points of my ride, it's over 165bpm.

Is this just a question of reducing my pace, and lowering my heart rate? Will my average heart rate decrease with increase fitness levels?

We're entering the colder months here in Australia, so I'm hoping this problem will reduce the closer we get to winter. I think I can probably stick to shorts and short-sleeved shirts all year round, which will keep me cool.

Are there any other solutions people have found?

John.

Last edited by johngwheeler; 04-02-17 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 04-02-17, 07:32 PM
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In my experience, stopping sweating during my rides would be about as easy as stopping breathing. If we didn't sweat at all, wouldn't we need to pant like dogs to maintain a steady body temperature? That being said, I have several thinner work colleagues who do not sweat nearly as much as I do during rides, however the OP is already fairly thin.

I would suggest that dressing as light as possible and wearing moisture wicking clothing (I like wool micro-weave) are perhaps essential steps to managing moisture. Slowing down the tempo would certainly help as well.
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Old 04-02-17, 07:38 PM
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the alternative to sweating is heat stroke. So consider it a good thing.

What you want to do, is improving air circulation so sweat can evaporate efficiently and keep you cool like it's supposed to. Keeping cool, eliminates the need to sweat as much, solving the problem.
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Old 04-02-17, 07:55 PM
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Or maybe this...

Turbo-training-with-fan.jpg

If I can find a way to attach the fan... :-)
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Old 04-02-17, 08:17 PM
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I am wondering if your real concern is swelling at work???

Sweating is pretty hard to stop, if you actually want to get there faster than walking....

If you wear the right clothes, clothes that wick away moisture, and you have a change of clothes at work, and you shower before your ride, you will not smell. Get to work with enough time to cool down a little and let the sweat sink into you biking clothes, change, and all is good.
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Old 04-02-17, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Kindaslow View Post
I am wondering if your real concern is swelling at work???

Sweating is pretty hard to stop, if you actually want to get there faster than walking....

If you wear the right clothes, clothes that wick away moisture, and you have a change of clothes at work, and you shower before your ride, you will not smell. Get to work with enough time to cool down a little and let the sweat sink into you biking clothes, change, and all is good.
I have a shower and change-room at work, so it's not a problem there. It's more of an issue if I go shopping etc. on my bike - I don't want to arrive at my destination as a sweaty mess, where there's no possibility of changing clothes. it's not pleasant for other people!

But I take your point about "clean sweat" from a previously showered body.

I guess it's just a question of:

(a) exerting myself less, by going more slowly, choosing lower gears, and walking if necessary.

(b) Wearing a minimum of light-weight, moisture-wicking clothing so that I keep cool & dry.

I would hope that as my fitness improves, that I should be able to go faster while keeping a low heart rate and respiration. On another thread, someone suggested that 120bpm is where you really start to exert yourself and warm up.
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Old 04-02-17, 09:35 PM
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How to reduce sweating?
Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
OK, not the most pleasant of questions, but what can I do to reduce the amount I sweat when riding for transport (as opposed to exercise)?

Are there any other solutions people have found
Originally Posted by Kindaslow View Post
I am wondering if your real concern is swelling at work???

Sweating is pretty hard to stop, if you actually want to get there faster than walking....

If you wear the right clothes, clothes that wick away moisture, and you have a change of clothes at work, and you shower before your ride, you will not smell.Get to work with enough time to cool down a little and let the sweat sink into you biking clothes, change, and all is good.
I think this question is equivalent to how to stay dry riding in the rain. Recently I posted to this thread on the Living Car Free Forum, "Keepin' Cool onthe Commute":
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Less than 2 miles?
Ride slowly.
Ride earlier in the day if you can.

Shower well before your commute and apply antiperspirant.
Wear more appropriate attire like lightweight shorts and a wicking T-shirt.

Bring baby wipes with you and when you change, wipe yourself down with babywipes. You can also do a bit of a "bird bath" with water in the sink and paper towels. You could also bring a couple hand towels ... one towet to wipe yourself down and other to dry with.
Bring your work clothes to change into.
When I ride, I ride hard, especially on my minimal 14 mile commute for fitness. I do not necessarily need to be pristine at work, and with a pre-ride early morning shower, I’m fine. But if I have to wear nice clothes, I really prefer to fully shower, even after a brief slow ride.

However I have one circumstance where riding as you describe is best. Every June I attend a conference about two miles from my home, for which I dress nicely, and walk there. I recently found though, that if I pick up a heavy duty Hubway Bike Share bike, and ride(slowly), the early morning breeze of the ride itself keeps me cooler than on the walk on a warm June morning, and I get there faster.

BTW, I recently posted (to of all places, the Living Car Free Forum):
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I personally regularly cleanse [the saddle area, to prevent saddle sores] with 91% isopropyl alcohol on a towel, which is a refreshing antibacterial, used for example before drawing a blood samplefrom the arm.

In fact I found it so effective that I also use it as an underarm deodorant...cooling,non-scented, non-staining; only one product necessary for two sites.
That' s my typical clean-up on arrival, two applications, before changing into work clothes and brushing my hair. I also wear hair gel after the pre-ride shower,and a cycling cap to prevent helmet hair (I have short, but parted hair).

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 04-02-17 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 04-02-17, 09:38 PM
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Try a Pearl Izumi Transfer base layer shirt, short sleeve or sleeveless. Their fancypants Minerale fabric is expensive and worth it. It beats any other wicking fabric I've worn, poly blend or merino wool.

I wear a sleeveless PI Transfer pretty much year 'round under my jersey in cold to cool weather, and under cotton t-shirts and more dressy collared polo type shirts and button down shirts in warm to hot weather.

It should be snug fitting to work best, transferring perspiration before it beads up and soaks your outer shirt. I can wear my cotton shirts without those huge wet spots under the arms, back, etc. It feels slightly spongy and soft. You can put it on cold or warm and it immediately feels comfortable against the skin.

There are other less expensive poly and blend wicking fabrics but I haven't found anything else that works as well as this Pearl Izumi base layer. Usually I wash it every other ride, but recently I've gone two weeks without laundering the shirt, riding three to five times a week, each ride 10-50 miles, including warm humid days. The PI base layer still didn't smell funky, even when my other wicking fabric shirts did. I can get two or three rides from my Garneau jerseys and Champion long sleeve shirts before they get funky (and only one from cotton shirts). But I finally washed the Pearl Izumi Transfer shirt after two weeks and several rides only because it was time to wash all my cycling apparrel, but the PI shirt still didn't stink. It's remarkable stuff.

Check Pearl Izumi outlet stores, Nashbar, Amazon and other retailers for discounts. I rarely see any blowout prices on PI apparel but occasionally they will discount seconds, blems and returns. I got my PI Transfer shirt from Nashbar in 2015 discounted about $5-$10 lower than anywhere else. It still cost about $30 but it's one of the best values I've found in cycling apparel.

The next best value I've found is Champion's boxer/briefs in poly blend wicking fabric (a tip last summer from another Bike Forums member). I don't wear my padded cycling shorts anymore, just the Champion underwear under baggies, jeans, khakis, whatever. They dry quickly so I never feel soggy or like I've got the swamp butt on a muggy summer ride. My saddles are already padded so I don't need shorts with chamois anyway, especially for shortish rides of 10 miles or so.

No special laundering precautions. I'll handwash with a long soak in a 5 gallon bucket with Tide or Gain when I need to wash only a few items and hang them to dry over the tub. Or use the cold or warm regular cycles in the machine. And if you're not already using Tide or Gain, try them -- especially the gel flings if you use laundromats; much handier than liquids and powders. They cost more but work better than anything else I've tried. Cheaper stuff is cheaper for a reason -- and both Tide and Gain have decreased in price over the past few years so they aren't nearly as expensive now. For best results use a long soak or a long, slow cycle in the machine -- this gives the enzymes time to work. That's the key to getting out the sweat or mildew funk. My apartment complex laundry machines run only 2-3 minutes on wash, not nearly long enough for my riding apparel, towels, sheets, etc. So I take those to the laundromat around the corner that has a standard 30 minute cycle and options for longer washes and rinses. Huge difference in getting the clothes, towels, etc., clean looking and smelling. It's not the agitation, which is quite gentle, but the time to let the enzymes work.
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Old 04-02-17, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
I have a shower and change-room at work, so it's not a problem there. It's more of an issue if I go shopping etc. on my bike - I don't want to arrive at my destination as a sweaty mess, where there's no possibility of changing clothes. it's not pleasant for other people!

But I take your point about "clean sweat" from a previously showered body.

I guess it's just a question of:

(a) exerting myself less, by going more slowly, choosing lower gears, and walking if necessary.

(b) Wearing a minimum of light-weight, moisture-wicking clothing so that I keep cool & dry.

I would hope that as my fitness improves, that I should be able to go faster while keeping a low heart rate and respiration. On another thread, someone suggested that 120bpm is where you really start to exert yourself and warm up.
Thanks for the clarification.

In this case, I would carry a shirt to change into. I always have a fresh shirt for post MTBing. After MTBing my clothes are soaking with sweat. After packing up my bike, usually my shirts have soaked up the majority of the sweat still on my body. Changing into the fresh shirt makes me reasonably presentable.

Also, how much you sweat is very much about your body. But, for most people, the better your conditioning the lower your heart beat rate at easy riding, then the lower the sweating. (Except if you live in a high humidity area, then you are out of luck).
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Old 04-02-17, 10:36 PM
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Keep in mind that where you live and riding conditions play a big part. Most of us are comfortable lightly dressed and not doing much, in dry air temps in the low seventies. Since there's a limit to how far we can undress, higher temps and/or more physical activity mean we're going to get hot and sweat.

Now the killer. Humidity makes sweating as a means to cool the body less effective, so we end up staying hotter and sweating even more in the effort to stay cool. I live in New York and Cozumel, MX. Up here, I can ride and stay fairly cool up to the low eighties, unless there are hills. In Cozumel, it's rarely above eighty, but the humidity is always shy of 100%. Down there, if I ride the bike more than a few miles then walk into a building people will ask me if it's raining.
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Old 04-03-17, 07:47 AM
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If you live in an area with any hills, and hot weather, pretty much the only solution to cycling to a destination without being sweaty (as much anyway) is to use an e-bike.
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Old 04-03-17, 08:38 AM
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Number one way: when the "rabbit" passes you at 20+ mph, let him go without chasing.

This time of year, here, cool mornings it's easy and I seldom need a shower or much clean-up at work. When it warms up, under the direct sunlight of the rising sun it won't be possible unless I just start earlier.

I happen to be the same height and weight as you, and I'll generally see the same heart rates although 165 is 90% maximum for me. If that's the case there's some room there to back off the effort, although some hills make that problematic. I don't know about you, but my gears don't go low enough to spin up a decent hill at low effort. I think, in the hot summer, there's nothing you can realistically do about that other than choosing a route that's in the shade and avoiding the more difficult hills.

I don't know if getting in better condition will help. When I was in terrible shape I'd sweat buckets at speeds which are now easy (and dry) so I know that it helps at some point. But more highly trained cyclists, some of them adapt to perspire more quickly than when untrained or less trained, so I wouldn't necessarily count on that solving this particular challenge.
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Old 04-03-17, 08:41 AM
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IMO/IME, sweating is about as personal as the amount of sleep you need, or how grumpy you get when you're hungry.
My body runs on an simplified method: pulse up, sweat on.
If I'm exercising w/o sweating, then I'm actually freezing.


Others have is easier, but might overheat on warm Days.
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Old 04-03-17, 11:17 AM
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There are lots of approaches, and none of them will solve your problem perfectly. Combine them as appropriate.

Wear synthetic or wool, because these fabrics wick your sweat away. They also appear to be less wet than cotton.

Get into better shape so climbing is less effort. Obviously, this is limited.

Worry less about how you appear. Do other people's opinions really matter? Notice others sweat, too, and people don't stare them down. Even if people are put off, it's their problem, not yours.

When you get inside, rinse off your head, face, and neck, and dry them. Grab a big glass of ice water. Sit down and be still for 20 minutes while drinking the water. This is what I do at work in the summer.
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Old 04-03-17, 12:39 PM
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Some people sweat more than others, so there must be a genetic marker that you can't change.
I'm sweat average, I think and minimize it with "cool" labeled cycling clothing. The lighter colors, wicking fabric and ventilation help with the musk odor of sweat.
Other than that, ride slower of have a shower handy at all times...
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Old 04-03-17, 01:44 PM
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The key to staying dry for me is to reduce any "backpacks" or items strapped to my body to an absolute minimum.

Get the weight on your bike, and you'll be cooled down substantially by the wind. If you have a wicking shirt, it'll work much better without a messenger bag attached to your back.
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Old 04-03-17, 01:58 PM
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I once walked outside for a post-meeting discussion, and soaked my dress shirt within five (5) minutes with sweat.

So (a) I'm no help, and (b) I stopped worrying about it.
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Old 04-04-17, 01:22 PM
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I read somewhere that one of the first adaptations your body makes as you start to gain fitness is that you start to sweat more quickly during exercise. If that's true (and I think it is), getting more fit probably isn't going to fix you problem. It's possible that you might get fit enough to raise the bar of what your body considers exercise, but on a 5% hill you might be at a walking pace before that happens, and depending on the temperature and humidity that might not even be sufficient.


Personally, I wouldn't worry so much about showing up sweaty at the grocery store or whatever. If anyone is close enough for your sweat to be unpleasant to them they are probably too close.
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Old 04-05-17, 08:29 AM
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Australia... Yeah, you're going to sweat. If you're just worried about being wet, then clothing choice will help as others have said. For smell, I recommend eating less fried food and snacks, and more fish and vegetables. My B.O. is closely related to my diet.
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Old 04-05-17, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Keep in mind that where you live and riding conditions play a big part. Most of us are comfortable lightly dressed and not doing much, in dry air temps in the low seventies. Since there's a limit to how far we can undress, higher temps and/or more physical activity mean we're going to get hot and sweat.

Now the killer. Humidity makes sweating as a means to cool the body less effective, so we end up staying hotter and sweating even more in the effort to stay cool. I live in New York and Cozumel, MX. Up here, I can ride and stay fairly cool up to the low eighties, unless there are hills. In Cozumel, it's rarely above eighty, but the humidity is always shy of 100%. Down there, if I ride the bike more than a few miles then walk into a building people will ask me if it's raining.
I would think it was humid all along the east coast states. Here in PA, it is humid. I sweat on the bike even in the winter at 22°. Anything above 65° and I'm a mess with sweat. It's quite dry out today at 75% humidity and 43°. I would be wearing shorts and long sleeve wicking shirt under a sweatshirt if I was riding right now.

I'd take 95-100° at below 40% humidity any day over 65-70° and the typical 85-95% humidity for riding.

I think moisture wicking is just a marketing scheme that everyone seems to fall for. The synthetic shirts just dry faster as there's less wicking. Cotton wicks moisture, and holds it. Polyester is plastic, there's no wicking. They just dry very fast because they don't hold the moisture. The cotton clothing wicks the moisture and holds it thus insulating your body and causing your body to become hotter. Wicks absorb moisture. Plastic can not wick moisture, thus plastic clothing can not wick moisture.
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Old 04-05-17, 10:13 AM
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IMHO you just can't stop sweating no matter what. However that doesn't mean you have to stink and as others have mentioned, diet plays a large part. One of the worst things I got in the habit of was using store bought deodorants. It seemed that the more I used, the more dependent on them I became and it seemed there was no solution to keeping the BO in check. For the last 10 years I've just been using baking soda applied once a day. It neutralizes odor doesn't have a synthetic or offensive pimp daddy smell and I'm not putting a bunch of chemicals on my skin that have in the past caused rashes and/or dry skin issues. I ride to work every day and there are no showers here for me to use yet my coworkers are shocked that I'm not smelly like other cyclists or lunchtime runners. The usual question I get asked is if I just don't sweat.

Incidentally wool is THE miracle fabric... it breathes, insulates when wet, wicks moisture and dries quickly and is effective in regulating body temperature. It also is naturally anti-bacterial.

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Old 04-05-17, 10:42 AM
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If you're concerned with how you look, i.e. if you think your wet appearance would be offputting to cow-orkers, you can cover up with a sport jacket. Funny how they're called sport jackets when they're decidedly not good for sports. Anyway, it makes you more presentable. Yes, it makes you hotter, but I've worn one when the occasion arose, and I survived. Men have been wearing wool suits in the summer for centuries. And as I said earlier, after arriving sweaty, if your workplace is cool, you can eventually dry off by cooling off and sitting still.

Maybe the car-centric life has made sweating to be some sort of taboo or something. Some people live in cities where we have to walk farther than a few hundred feet from a car to the inside of a building. Some of my suburban friends have lives like that, where they are pretty much never outdoors. If they sweated profusely, they'd have something to be embarrassed about. Here in the big city where zillions of people walk appreciable distances in all kinds of weather, I think we expect to see sweat-drenched shirts unless covered up by jackets.
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Old 04-05-17, 11:02 AM
  #23  
Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
IMHO you just can't stop sweating no matter what. However that doesn't mean you have to stink and as others have mentioned, diet plays a large part. One of the worst things I got in the habit of was using store bought deodorants. It seemed that the more I used, the more dependent on them I became and it seemed there was no solution to keeping the BO in check.

For the last 10 years I've just been using baking soda applied once a day. It neutralizes odor doesn't have a synthetic or offensive pimp daddy smell and I'm not putting a bunch of chemicals on my skin that have in the past caused rashes and/or dry skin issues.

I r
ide to work every day and there are no showers here for me to use yet my coworkers are shocked that I'm not smelly like other cyclists or lunchtime runners. The usual question I get asked is if I just don't sweat....
FYA, I previously replied to this thread
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
How to reduce sweating? I think this question is equivalent to how to stay dry riding in the rain.

When I ride, I ride hard, especially on my minimal 14 mile commute for fitness. I do not necessarily need to be pristine at work, and with a pre-ride early morning shower, I’m fine. But if I have to wear nice clothes, I really prefer to fully shower, even after a brief slow ride.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I personally regularly cleanse [the saddle area, to prevent saddle sores] with 91% isopropyl alcohol on a towel, which is a refreshing antibacterial, used for example before drawing a blood sample from the arm.

In fact I found it so effective that I also use it as an underarm deodorant...cooling,non-scented,non-staining; only one product necessary for two sites.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 04-05-17 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 04-05-17, 01:39 PM
  #24  
Clyde1820
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
Is this just a question of reducing my pace, and lowering my heart rate? Will my average heart rate decrease with increase fitness levels?
Generally speaking, yes as one's fitness improves then one's BP and heart rate will tend to improve at a similar level of work.

When working hard, one can generally alter the cadence, change the gearing, shorten the stride (if running, for example), and so on. On a bike, cadence and gearing for a given level of difficulty (ie, a hill) are certainly the two obvious things one can change.

Myself, I find if I can ease up the gearing somewhat but speed up the cadence (to a point), I can generally maintain a similar speed but do so with reduced effort ... and, along with that, reduced BP and heartrate at that level of work. With cyling specifically, I generally don't hammer it these days, so I can't say what my own recent performance example happens to be as it compares to BP/heartrate. You might find making subtle changes like this will be sufficient, given the sort of work/load you're experiencing on the ride.

That said, keeping sweat at the "right" levels for me involves proper wicking, proper layering, and proper venting. I like going a bit quicker, to keep the breeze up. But I've got to nail the right layers and wicking, else I don't seem to get sufficient cooling. Depending on the time of year, where I am, I find it's useful to keep a slightly less-breathable, and/or slightly thinner additonal layer, in the bag for times when my initial selection mismatches what the weather has turned into. Sounds pretty common sense, but that's mostly all it takes for me to maintain "proper" sweat levels within the level of work I'm prepared to do.
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Old 04-05-17, 06:49 PM
  #25  
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Slowing down works for me. I ride 8 km each way to work, in a very hilly area, and simply take it slow. On hills I average about 6-7 km/h, while on flats I easily keep a brisk pace of 20 km/h. So my average per trip sits around 15-20.

But I also ride a heavy 31 kg dutch city bike in summers that can easily hit 40°C before taking humidity into account. So that may be all I can do to help.
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