Author Topic: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride  (Read 5075 times)

Trebek

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A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« on: October 19, 2012, 12:53:47 AM »
So I've heard MMM speak notoriously about riding... well pretty much everywhere. I live in Australia and quite frankly, the urban sprawl here is mental. To give you an idea of the distances we travel here are some example below. (We actually live a reasonable distance away from things, I know plenty of other people who are even more, some with work round trips of 76km's!)

Local Shops: 2.0km round trip
Supermarket: 6.4km round trip
DW Parents: 15km round trip
Closest Friends House: 31.2km (can't choose where your friends live unfortunately...)
Work: 45.4km round trip

Now when most people get all complainypants about the idea of having to use a bike, it's normally about how far they'll have to ride or how hard it'll be. TBH though, having to ride (say) 45.4km's to work and back doesn't really phase me. I'm up for the challenge and sure, I likely wouldn't be able to do it on my first go (although you never know) but after a week or two of building up to it I'm sure it wouldn't be that big of a deal. The main thing that is holding me back though is that I sweat a fair bit whilst doing exercise. I'm quite fit and not at all overweight or anything, I just sweat and stink up the place with my manly smell when I exercise.

So I'd happily get a bike, ride 2km's to the local shops during the day, pick up some food/whatever and ride back again... but I know I'd end up at least somewhat sweaty, smelly and wanting to have another shower (even if it's cold weather). In fact all the places I can think of that I'd be riding to and from would make me want to have a shower afterwards. Riding to work would be OK I guess because I'd just hop up, postpone the normal "morning shower" and have it at work instead... but for the other smaller rides it's kind of got me stumped as to how it works. Are there other riders out there that have this problem? How do you deal with say going for a 7.5km ride to DW's parent's house and arriving all smelly and sweaty? Do you have a shower then? Or just stick around for a few hours stinking up the place? If I DID shower when I arrived then I'd likely have to have ANOTHER one once I rode back home. Aside from it wasting water it takes up heaps of time and I can't really figure out a way around it... any help or tips would be appreciated :-)

jp

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2012, 07:30:01 AM »
There are really two solutions. 

You can get some wipes and put them in your bag.  They make some nice expensive ones like "shower wipes" or some cheap ones, like baby wipes.  This will probably take care of the minor sweat and stinkage from a short ride.  Of course, you might also need a change of clothes.

OR

(and this is my philosophy)

You can stop caring that you are a little sweaty.  Its fine, you're sweaty, so what.  This takes some building up to, but in the end will make your life a lot easier.  I use wipes after the commute to work, and of course change clothes.  But for every day trips, I just embrace the fact that I am sweaty. 

galaxie

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2012, 08:27:46 AM »
For the ride to work, I do just wait on the "morning shower" until I get there.  No problem.  But yeah, if I think a short ride will make me sweaty and it would be silly to shower when I get there (the grocery store, friends' houses, etc), I do one or more of these things:

  • Bring an extra shirt and change into it.
  • Bring a hankie and dry my face when I get there.
  • Brag about my biking and stink up the place.
  • Bike slower.
  • Give myself a couple of minutes to cool down & evaporate before going inside.

It helps not to wear a backpack (I have panniers) so I don't get the big spot of back sweat.  But that's what the extra shirt is for.  This is only a problem for me during Boston's short summer, anyway.  I imagine it's warmer for you.

ThatGuyFromCanada

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2012, 08:50:35 AM »
My ride to work is 55km round trip and I do most of these when I get to work
;-) especially the bragging!

For the ride to work, I do just wait on the "morning shower" until I get there. 

  • Bring an extra shirt and change into it.
  • Bring a hankie and dry my face when I get there.
  • Brag about my biking and stink up the place.
  • Bike slower.
  • Give myself a couple of minutes to cool down & evaporate before going inside.

It helps not to wear a backpack (I have panniers) so I don't get the big spot of back sweat.  But that's what the extra shirt is for.  This is only a problem for me during Boston's short summer, anyway.  I imagine it's warmer for you.

I've found that the first week was really difficult and that I was eating like a monster but after that I settled into a nice routine. Now that winter is coming I don't think it's realistic to do 55km round trip at -40 and I'm going to miss my bike time.

alandjackson

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2012, 09:23:00 AM »
The more you ride, the less you will sweat.  Also, your speed and effort (hills) have a big affect on the amount of sweat.  I'd say anything under 10k you should be able to do at a moderate pace (once you've gotten in shape for riding) without sweating enough to stink/need a shower.

I have found that for longer rides, if I change completely I haven't ever noticed (or had complaints) about smelling.

DoubleDown

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2012, 09:35:17 AM »
Great Question! Agree with previous posters about showering at work, if you can.

Here's another option that's not 100% MMM since it's not 100% muscle power, but I thought it was a great compromise for me: An electric bike.

I live in the Washington DC area where, in the summer, it is hot and humid enough that you will sweat just stepping outdoors, doing absolutely nothing, let alone riding a bike or doing any kind of physical activity.

But, in the morning it's usually not TOO hot. With the electric bike, I can pedal just enough in the morning where I don't break into a sweat, using the motor to help take some of the work, and the breeze keeps me cool, even wearing work clothing. So, no changing or showering required when I get to work. I ride the 8 miles at a pretty leisurely pace, probably only about 14 mph, getting to work in about 30 - 35 minutes (can take anywhere from 25 - 45 minutes in a car, depending on traffic).

In the evening on my way home, I change into workout clothes and ride as hard as I can, not needing the electric motor (or using it only sparingly to get up steep hills, since the motor and battery are pretty heavy).

Some electric bikes don't allow you to supplement the motor with pedaling, or vice versa -- make sure you get one that does this, if you get one.

I got my bike for $300 at WalMart, far less than the cost of most non-electric bikes as I understand from serious bikers. The battery on this one is supposed to be able to go a maximum distance of 25 miles (about 40km???) before needing a recharge, which takes about 4 -6 hours maximum to fully recharge. You can take the battery out and just use it as a "normal" bike, too.

Like I said, it's not 100% muscle power, but let's be realistic. Most of us WILL sweat riding a bike any significant distance, and in certain climates you will sweat going 0 miles. And not everyone has a shower at work, or wants to shower at work, etc. So this way you can have the best of both worlds -- get some great exercise on the way home, while arriving to work already dressed, and not sweating. Good luck!

Russ

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2012, 10:26:24 AM »
First off, sweating and smelling bad are not the same thing. Sweat on its own doesn't smell bad, it's the bacteria living on your skin that give off the stink. As long as you stay clean, a ride of nearly any distance shoudn't make you smell so bad that it offends anybody. Just bring a change of clothes with you, towel off so you're dry and the bacteria has nowhere to grow, and change out of your sweaty riding clothes and you're good to go. Shower every day or so to stay clean, but you shouldn't need to take a full shower everywhere you go. There was a thread about deodorant rocks in the Reader Recommendations subforum, and something like that would probably help with the smell too.

That being said, I do think even the sweating will go down once you start riding. It's one thing to be in good shape, but it's another thing to be in good biking shape. Once you start riding, you'll start getting used to the unique demands biking places on your body. Riding at a leisurely transportation pace rather than a fast exercise pace helps a lot too. When you walk 1k to the local shops, are you all sweaty and wanting a shower at the end? Biking to the local shops should be both less exertion and less time compared to walking, so if you can walk it you can bike it.

wrong demographic

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2012, 10:40:26 AM »
a small spray bottle with some isopropyl (aka "rubbing") alcohol can do wonders for killing stench (literally).  The clinic-smell evaporates after a few minutes, so while effective, sometimes it helps to have a few extra minutes between application and the need-to-be presentable. you can add a couple of drops of something that smells nice (like an essential oil or cologne) if you want to mask the isopropyl -- but you might end up with something overpowering if you need lots of post-ride clean up.

Alcohol-based hand-sanitizer can also do the job. Applying straight isopropyl or sanitizer to a wipe or washcloth are also helpful clean-up tools. I know people who just pour some isopropyl, witch hazel, or a few drops of tea tree oil mixed with either of the first two options into cheap baby wipes to create ready-to-go "sport" wipes for a fraction of the cost.


I will often wear an undershirt to ride, and bring a buttoned shirt with me to put on upon arrival -- no locker room needed. When it's really warm, a change of clothes and a quick wipe down can do wonders for presentability.

Trebek

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2012, 04:40:17 PM »
Those are some good options guys thanks! Looks like it basically just comes down to mitigating the sweat and putting up with the left over result after you cool down, wash your face or change top/pants/etc.

When you walk 1k to the local shops, are you all sweaty and wanting a shower at the end? Biking to the local shops should be both less exertion and less time compared to walking, so if you can walk it you can bike it.

I do walk to the local shops (2km's there are back) quite often and normally I don't get sweaty although it's not really that hot these days (it might top out at 20 degrees celsius (68 fahrenheit) with some sun if you're lucky). Soon though it will be tops of 40 degrees (104 fahrenheit) so I don't think I'll be doing it much of it then if I don't want to be sweating. I'd say a local ride to the shops and back, if done leisurely, wouldn't be any problems. But even going to the supermarket (6.4km's) would be sweat inducing as it's quite hilly. Maybe I should find a friends bike to borrow for a week or two and see how bad or not it really is...

Bakari

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2012, 05:08:43 PM »
First off, sweating and smelling bad are not the same thing. Sweat on its own doesn't smell bad, it's the bacteria living on your skin that give off the stink.

a small spray bottle with some isopropyl (aka "rubbing") alcohol can do wonders for killing stench (literally)...
Alcohol-based hand-sanitizer can also do the job. Applying straight isopropyl or sanitizer to a wipe or washcloth are also helpful clean-up tools.

When I was young I pretty much was a little stinky at all times, which my friends just grew to accept, because I biked or skated or ran everywhere I went.
Then at some point I came up with the idea of using hand sanitizer as deodorant, and it has never ever been a problem since.  Cool to see that I'm not the only one who has thought of it.  A big pump bottle cost $5 and lasts for months, super easy to apply.

If its really hot, and I need to be extra presentable, I'll just take off my shirt completely, ride topless, and its totally clean and dry when I get where I'm going (have to ride slower the last couple minutes to stop sweating and give time to air dry)

JT

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2012, 10:50:50 PM »
Try carrying some wipes with you, or a face cloth, so you can army style clean yourself up.  Then change into some fresh clothes (carried in your backpack).  Some essential oil will get you smelling nice.  Then, once you've made the return trip home, repeat if you're going out on the bike again, or have a shower if you're staying in.

Enjoy your riding :)  Well done for trying to climb over this "roadblock".

TomTX

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Re: A Sweaty Roadblock To Starting To Ride
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2012, 06:02:35 AM »

a small spray bottle with some isopropyl (aka "rubbing") alcohol can do wonders for killing stench (literally)...
Alcohol-based hand-sanitizer can also do the job. Applying straight isopropyl or sanitizer to a wipe or washcloth are also helpful clean-up tools.

When I was young I pretty much was a little stinky at all times, which my friends just grew to accept, because I biked or skated or ran everywhere I went.
Then at some point I came up with the idea of using hand sanitizer as deodorant, and it has never ever been a problem since.  Cool to see that I'm not the only one who has thought of it.  A big pump bottle cost $5 and lasts for months, super easy to apply

I've been using IPA instead of deodorant for years now - it's darn cheap. :)