Bike to work month is May. That is well before the dog days of Summer. I try to ride my bike to work all year round and the big question I get in the summertime is: “What about the sweat, dude?” Well… What about it? I don’t think I am a particularly sweaty or stinky person and I am very sensitive to smell. So I am using those, very unscientific data points to inform my decisions. I’ve used a few different strategies for trying to avoid showing up at the office soaked and stinky. Here are some ideas:
- Keep some work clothes at work to change into.
- Ride in a T shirt, get to work, wash a bit with COLD water, put on a fresh T shirt.
- Don’t ride fast or hard – keep it cool it’s safer and cooler
Pay attention to heat wave warnings. Make sure you are riding to your level. If you are in good shape and are often active in the hot weather, you’ll be more familiar with your limits. Don’t overdo it.
Apparently cotton is NOT the coolest fabric to be riding in. There are a multitude of unpronounceable synthetic “moisture wicking” fabrics out there.
You could ride in shorts and t shirt then change into “work clothes” in the office bathroom. Cool off with a cold watered towel while you are at it. It does make for interesting “good mornings” with your co-workers.
But beware! Synthetics will trap stink like nobody’s business. There are a few special cleanser products to combat this very specific issue.
You still have to wear your helmet. Sorry, I know it’s hot and the thing doesn’t breathe well.
You probably have a water bottle “cage” (a place to hold a water bottle, usually on the downtube of your frame) or at least water bottle “bosses” (the place where the “cage” bolts into you frame) if you do, be thankful and exploit these resources by mounting up a bottle and filling it with cold water (or other refresher of your choice.)
If you don’t have a place to mount the bottle built right onto your frame, there are a few options for adding a bottle holder in the form of strap on bottle holders, handlebar mounted systems and even these “camelback” options.
Water will help you stay cool and hydrated, don’t leave home without it in the hot weather.
Try to get all the weight you are carrying onto the bike, instead of your body. Messenger bags are great for hauling lots of stuff, but most of them are black and almost all of them are some kind of “ballistic nylon” which means it’s kind of like wearing a black plastic bag ON YOUR BACK in the hot summer sun. You back is actually a great heat sink for your body, so don’t cover it up. Let it breathe.