Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How To Always Smell Fresh

... even when your workplace has no shower.

(This is a hot Bike Week special feature!)

1. Always shower in the morning so you start your ride clean.
2. Use a non-mild soap. (Something like Ivory is good. Dove is bad.)
3. After arriving at work, wait at least 15 minutes to cool down and stop sweating. This is a good time to stretch, drink cold water, read emails, etc.
4. Use a hot or warm wet facecloth to wash your entire body. Entire.
5. If you want to use cold water for your facecloth to cool yourself off, make sure you repeat using hot water on the facecloth afterwards. * (see note below)
6. Use a small towel to dry. A small towel can be carried with you every day and can be replaced at home with a clean one easily.
7. Apply deodorant liberally, not antiperspirant. My whole technique could be useless if you start messing with your body's attempts to sweat when it chooses. ** (see the other note below)
8. Put on a complete set of clean clothes.

* I don't know why exactly, but if I use cold water only, I'll sweat a lot more after changing into my clean clothes. My theory is that by using hot water the skin gets tricked into thinking its cold after you're done because it is now colder than it used to be, whereas the opposite happens if you cover yourself with cold water.

** For women, I think the only deodorants available (as opposed to antiperspirant) are the organic ones, which I find are less irritating on the skin anyways. I've found Tom's of Maine works well. A couple other brands do not work well at all, so it may require experimentation. For men, if you go for the organic stuff, it may mean using a scent like Honeysuckle Rose, which is not as bad as it sounds. You just may be more likely to attract flying insects instead of the opposite sex.

Darren J 5/30/2006 02:02:00 p.m.


Good tips and they make a lot of sense. Guess I’m luckier than most with my short commute – only 2.5 miles – and mostly downhill on the way in so that helps with the sweating. But I still find that the cool-down period you mention is very important. It also helps to be outside, if there is a breeze, to help with the natural cooling off. I find that when I go inside the office too quickly I sweat lots more. But I’m still learning. Thanks for the tips.
Good tips! My routine is very similar, and shower, hot towel, clean clothes seem to be the key. Here in Washington, DC it was 98F yesterday.
awesome post! i have a very similiar routine and it has served me well for some time!! i use a camp towel, its really light and absorbent and isnt nearly the pain in the ass to transport that a "normal" towel is..i believe its actual name is packtowel..they come in a few sizes too!!! awesome!!!
I think you can probably skip the shower before you start. I ride hard for ~15 miles, cool down, wash cloth at the sink paying attention to the places where limbs come together, towel off and dress. Lucky to have space at work for washcloth, towel, and clean clothes for the week.
The towel I use is about 1 foot by 2 feet, so it's nice and easy to carry.

"where limbs come together" is a good way of putting it!

I wouldn't skip the shower though. Even when I just changed soap, I noticed the difference. I have to admit though that removing the shower is the one item I haven't even tried experimenting with. I figured (based on my grade 11 biology education) that it was pretty important to get older sweat and bacteria cleaned from the body first.
Thanks for the ideas.

No place to scrub up at my place of work. Here are my strategies:

1. Underdress. Keep your knees warm no matter what but otherwise dress so that at least the first half of your ride is a bit chilly.

2. Slow down! Commuting is a great opportunity to learn to ride within yourself. Find the fastest pace you can keep without really starting to perspire. Hold it. Don't let yourself go past it, even going up hills. You'll find that your ride is only incrementally longer but that you perspire much , much less.

3. Baby wipes. I keep a supply in our bike locker area. They are amazing.

4. I second the Tom's of Main deodorant strategy.

Hope these ideas are helpful.

Seattle, WA
Great post, Darren.
Now let's get your employer to own up to the fact that you are doing him/her/them a favour by riding your bike to work AND have them install a shower!
The outside cooldown is the most important. Personally, I find it easier to find a place that is easier to relax and cool down that is away from the building (coffee shop, etc.), then move on when dried off. The reasoning is that I think I sweat more when I'm worried about being sweaty.... Also, dress lighter than you think you will need with wicking clothes...
I like your ideas, but I am not so bothered what people think and just let people be pissed off, I say it is better to be hot and sweaty rather than be guilty of killing everyone cus they drive cars
I'm lucky enough to have showers at work, if you do, a 1'x2' packtowl is enough to get your whole body dry. Skip the morning shower so that you'll go more slowly when you get to work and have that "I'm showering at the office, must hurry to check email" feeling.

If you don't have the shower at work, babywipes are wonderful - and surprisingly cheap. Don't start with them until after you've stopped sweating though as they contain alcohol and will have the same effect as cold water on your sweating.

To carry clothes without wrinkles, roll them.

Leave your shoes at the office - or buy bike shoes that don't look like bike shoes (I use Time TXT shoes).
I'm surprised no one's mentioned fans yet. I don't yet ride to work, but am planning to do so within the next few weeks. Right now I take two 30 minute brisk walks around some parking lots. I wear sneakers and change into a t-shirt to walk. I use two fans - one a cheapo clip-on and the other's a high-powered, variable-speed Vornado. Within 15 minutes my body is cool enough to change back into my shirt and tie. Also, it helps to leave a brush and anti-spirant/deodorant at the office. No sense in making your exercise disruptive. Just my two cents' worth, thanks.
Great post indeed,

My routine is about the same,
except for the warm water, I will try that out! The cool down period is the time when I stretch, as I'm 54 years old and after a 10 mile ride it is necessary!
I carry pressed suits in a flat bag intended for carrying drawings, that
I strap to my attaché case on the rear carrier.

French cyclist
La Ville à Vélo
I find rubbing alcohol to be extremely effective in not only getting rid of the odor but also in cooling me down very quickly as the alcohol evaporates at a much lower temperature than sweat. It apparently also works as an antiperspirant by causing your pores to temporarily tighten.

As a bonus the high alcohol content would also sterilize the area so that any new bacteria have to start from scratch again and it's so easy to carry a small bottle with you or stash one at work....just don't drink it.... ;)
The key for my 13 mile commute is layering to limit sweat as much as possible. I also ride very early in the morning when it is cool. The rest is pretty much the same as everyone else, dress down to base layer, turn on fan, check emails, towel of any moisture, deodorize and get dressed. I fold my clothes flat at transport in a waterproof bag with fabric softeners inside and also placed in my pack to keep the smell down.
I use my cubicle wall and stick pins to hang shorts, footies and shirts to dry for commute home. So far co-workers have not complained about hanging clothes :-)
Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!
I'd like to second Dave (from Seattle) above's uh, second point.

Slow down! My commute at the brisk pace that comes naturally is about 30 minutes. Last summer, however, I found that by slowing my pace to 40 minutes or so I didn't sweat so much as to need a change of clothes. Now I just untuck my shirt and undo a the top few buttons to let some airflow through then tuck and button 'em back up after I've locked my bike and before I get in the elevator.
Has anyone tried the No Rinse products (http://www.norinse.com/index.htm)? Curious to know how well they work.

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