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Keepin' Cool On The Commute

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Keepin' Cool On The Commute

Old 03-29-17, 04:23 PM
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Keepin' Cool On The Commute

Hey guys,

First post. Love the site so far.

I bought a bike years ago to ride around, get some exercise, and commute to work (<2 miles away). I live in the Los Angeles area, and I found out pretty quickly that riding to work had one bad side effect for me; I started the day a big, sweaty mess. So my bike has been collecting dust for a while now. I wear business casual (slacks and a polo or dress shirt) for my job. I thought about wearing more riding appropriate attire but I still end up sweaty when I get to work. Does anyone else have this problem? How do those of you who commute to work deal with this?
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Old 03-29-17, 04:45 PM
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It's almost impossible not to sweat during hot or humid days. The best way to minimize sweating is to ride at an easier slower pace and bring a change of clothing and a deodorant with you to work.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Soupergrover View Post
Hey guys,

First post. Love the site so far.

I bought a bike years ago to ride around, get some exercise, and commute to work (<2 miles away). I live in the Los Angeles area, and I found out pretty quickly that riding to work had one bad side effect for me; I started the day a big, sweaty mess. So my bike has been collecting dust for a while now. I wear business casual (slacks and a polo or dress shirt) for my job. I thought about wearing more riding appropriate attire but I still end up sweaty when I get to work. Does anyone else have this problem? How do those of you who commute to work deal with this?
Welcome to the forum.

Shade is key. I'm guessing there's not much tree shade in L.A., but it is your friend wherever you can bike in it. Also, you can look for routes shaded by buildings. That shouldn't be too hard in the morning when the sun is low in the sky. Also, you might want to plan extra time to cool down before changing into work clothes.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
It's almost impossible not to sweat during hot or humid days. The best way to minimize sweating is to ride at an easier slower pace and bring a change of clothing and a deodorant with you to work.
I guess the good news is there is a slight decline on the way in the morning for the most part. if I get enough momentum I can coast a lot of the way.

Now to get the bike working...
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Old 03-29-17, 08:26 PM
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Toronto is not as hot as LA and I am fortunate that my 7 mile commute is gently downhill all the way. I try to exercise a lot of discipline in coasting as much as possible on the way to work.

Polo shirts, if they are a knit fabric, are actually quite sweaty. I wear a short sleeved light cotton dress shirt and casual shorts on the bike, and I keep some long pants at work or roll them up and bring them with me and change at work. I might be slightly sweaty when I arrive on the hottest days, but no worse than if I had taken public transit. I have a fan in my office and use that when I arrive, before I start any face-to-face meetings.

It also helps not to drink coffee at home before commuting, or immediately after getting to work.

Last edited by cooker; 03-29-17 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 03-30-17, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Toronto is not as hot as LA and I am fortunate that my 7 mile commute is gently downhill all the way. I try to exercise a lot of discipline in coasting as much as possible on the way to work.

Polo shirts, if they are a knit fabric, are actually quite sweaty. I wear a short sleeved light cotton dress shirt and casual shorts on the bike, and I keep some long pants at work or roll them up and bring them with me and change at work. I might be slightly sweaty when I arrive on the hottest days, but no worse than if I had taken public transit. I have a fan in my office and use that when I arrive, before I start any face-to-face meetings.

It also helps not to drink coffee at home before commuting, or immediately after getting to work.
Good advice, cooker. Thanks
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Old 03-30-17, 02:39 PM
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Commuting - Bike Forums
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Old 03-30-17, 03:30 PM
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would you sweat riding the cruiser on the beach too, if not in a rush..
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Old 03-30-17, 03:36 PM
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+1 on leaving extra time - even 10 minutes will make a big difference if you can spare it. Also, do you carry a bag? That may contribute to your getting sweaty. You may want to try a couple of days with no baggage and see if that makes a difference.

Assuming all that is true, you may want to make a small investment and put a cheap rack with a bag on your bike. It made a world of difference for me.
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Old 03-30-17, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by noobinsf View Post
+1 on leaving extra time - even 10 minutes will make a big difference if you can spare it. Also, do you carry a bag? That may contribute to your getting sweaty. You may want to try a couple of days with no baggage and see if that makes a difference.

Assuming all that is true, you may want to make a small investment and put a cheap rack with a bag on your bike. It made a world of difference for me.
Right now I ride the bus and carry a basic backpack. I've walked to work in the morning sometimes with it and it gets sweaty that way, too, so I know it's a problem I have to resolve. I found a link to a great commuter guide somewhere and he gave the same advice as you - put it on a rack. Eventually he switched to side saddle bags (I forget what they are really called) which is a highly attractive option for me eventually.

He also suggested carrying moist towlettes for a quick wipe down when you get to work.
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Old 03-30-17, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Soupergrover View Post
Eventually he switched to side saddle bags (I forget what they are really called).
They're usually called 'panniers' - its an English word based on the French 'panier' (breadbasket). Most Canadians pronounce it as if it were still a French word: "pan-yay" whereas perhaps Americans are more likely to say "pan-yer".

Last edited by cooker; 03-30-17 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 03-30-17, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
They're usually called 'panniers' - its an English word based on the French 'panier' (breadbasket). Most Canadians pronounce it as if it were still a French word: "pan-yay" whereas perhaps Americans are more likely to say "pan-yer".

"Pan-yays" and saddlebags are not the same thing... Saddle bags are smaller and attach to a saddle while "pan-yays" are larger and attach to a rack.
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Old 03-30-17, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Soupergrover View Post
I guess the good news is there is a slight decline on the way in the morning for the most part. if I get enough momentum I can coast a lot of the way.

Now to get the bike working...
I woudnt worry about coasting... when you get to the office take a few minutes to cool down, change clothes ;and freshen up a bit in the bathroom. I find the Irish shower a pretty good solution for the worst heat.
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Old 03-30-17, 10:49 PM
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I commuted 6 miles round trip in (north) Orange County, and 16 miles round trip in Mobile, Alabama. (Don't even get me started on Gulf Coast heat and humidity. I still have nightmares. Literally.) My method was never to stay cool - but rather, find a way to deal with the pouring sweat while still looking and smelling work-appropriate.

On the really hot days, I started off with a shower: seemed to make the fresh sweat stink less. Wet hair, too. It was going to get wet anyways. When I got to work, I'd wipe off in the bathroom with a paper towel, wash off my face, and spray on some non-obnoxious body deodorant. The main ingredient was witch hazel; now, I'd probably just dump some witch hazel in a spray bottle and call it good.

For riding in, I'd wear a men's tank top undershirt. Not moisture wicking, but cheap to replace if they get destroyed by odors or mold (the latter actually happened in Alabama). If it wasn't that bad, I'd put a shirt or sweater over it. If it was that bad: hit the bathroom, change, and change back for the ride home. If it was going to be really bad, I'd bring a spare tank top for after work. Bottoms were easy because I'm a girl kitty: unpadded bike/volleyball shorts for the ride, and throw a skirt over before entering work. The casual shorts and change seems like a good idea for guys.
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Old 03-31-17, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
Bottoms were easy because I'm a girl kitty: unpadded bike/volleyball shorts for the ride, and throw a skirt over before entering work. The casual shorts and change seems like a good idea for guys.
For guys, swimsuits are usually made of light, thin material that dries quickly. Some people cut the mesh liners out of them to wear them over undergarments.
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Old 03-31-17, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
"Pan-yays" and saddlebags are not the same thing... Saddle bags are smaller and attach to a saddle while "pan-yays" are larger and attach to a rack.
Agreed, but he wrote "side saddle bags", so I would guess he meant panjerse.
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Old 03-31-17, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
"Pan-yays" and saddlebags are not the same thing... Saddle bags are smaller and attach to a saddle while "pan-yays" are larger and attach to a rack.
I knew they weren't the same thing and they had a better name. I just couldn't think of the name he used and the only thing that popped into my head to describe it was "side saddle bags"
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Old 03-31-17, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
I commuted 6 miles round trip in (north) Orange County, and 16 miles round trip in Mobile, Alabama. (Don't even get me started on Gulf Coast heat and humidity. I still have nightmares. Literally.) My method was never to stay cool - but rather, find a way to deal with the pouring sweat while still looking and smelling work-appropriate.

On the really hot days, I started off with a shower: seemed to make the fresh sweat stink less. Wet hair, too. It was going to get wet anyways. When I got to work, I'd wipe off in the bathroom with a paper towel, wash off my face, and spray on some non-obnoxious body deodorant. The main ingredient was witch hazel; now, I'd probably just dump some witch hazel in a spray bottle and call it good.

For riding in, I'd wear a men's tank top undershirt. Not moisture wicking, but cheap to replace if they get destroyed by odors or mold (the latter actually happened in Alabama). If it wasn't that bad, I'd put a shirt or sweater over it. If it was that bad: hit the bathroom, change, and change back for the ride home. If it was going to be really bad, I'd bring a spare tank top for after work. Bottoms were easy because I'm a girl kitty: unpadded bike/volleyball shorts for the ride, and throw a skirt over before entering work. The casual shorts and change seems like a good idea for guys.
While I don't know Mobile heat, I know Midwest humidity. I'm from Ohio originally, and the summers there, while the temperature is less, are way more brutal with the humidity than what we have in LA

Everyone has had some great ideas and it seems a general consensus to freshen up in the bathroom when you get there and bring work clothes to change into.
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Old 03-31-17, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
For guys, swimsuits are usually made of light, thin material that dries quickly. Some people cut the mesh liners out of them to wear them over undergarments.
TYhat sounds like a great idea. Thanks!
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Old 03-31-17, 08:31 AM
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no way around it, I'm sweaty too. bring baby wipes to wash yourself, fresh clothes (especially socks and underwear), deodorant, and cologne. I even leave clothes at work so I don't have to carry a bag. fortunately my gym is only a mile away and my office also has a shower, so I'm lucky.
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Old 03-31-17, 12:34 PM
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I'm in a much colder climate and I sweat on my commute, too!

There have been some good suggestions so far: leaving earlier is a good one, giving yourself some time to cool down before starting work. Baby wipes are also helpful, not just for freshening up after a ride, but they can help you clean your hands if you ever have to do a bit of bike maintenance on a ride. I carry some with me on almost all rides for that reason.

I keep a change of clothes at work: that might not be an option for you, but for me it allows me to wear bike friendly clothes for the ride and street clothes to change into at work.
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Old 03-31-17, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Soupergrover View Post
While I don't know Mobile heat, I know Midwest humidity. I'm from Ohio originally, and the summers there, while the temperature is less, are way more brutal with the humidity than what we have in LA
Agreed! Southern California can get sticky, but my current location in Wisconsin (halfway between the Twin Cities and Madison) have the awful humidity. But the worst days here are like normal, non-bad days on the Gulf Coast.
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Old 04-01-17, 06:24 AM
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Humidity is worse than heat...When it's very humid it's just impossible not to sweat no matter what you do...
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Old 04-01-17, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Soupergrover View Post
I bought a bike years ago to ride around, get some exercise, and commute to work (<2 miles away). I live in the Los Angeles area, and I found out pretty quickly that riding to work had one bad side effect for me; I started the day a big, sweaty mess. So my bike has been collecting dust for a while now. I wear business casual (slacks and a polo or dress shirt) for my job. I thought about wearing more riding appropriate attire but I still end up sweaty when I get to work. Does anyone else have this problem? How do those of you who commute to work deal with this?
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 baby wipes. 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 to wet to wipe yourself down and other to dry with.
Bring your work clothes to change into.
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Old 04-01-17, 07:39 AM
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Keepin' Cool on the Commute
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 baby wipes. 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 to wet 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, Iím 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 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.
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; 04-01-17 at 08:20 AM.
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