How to Not Stink at Urban Commuting
Biking may sound like an easy, leisurely way to get exercise on your commute, but there's a guarantee that you'll build up sweat along the way that can follow you into the office. For tips on how to freshen up after biking to work, take the advice of those who have come before you and found the best bike commuting gear (and methods) so you don't have to.
Sometimes you wake up late, or sometimes you're just too lazy to pack for your day ahead of time. We've all been there. For the days when you can't avoid stinking up the office, here are a few excuses you can use as to why you're singeing off everyone's nose hairs with your odor.
• Explain that it's not you or the sweat that smells. It's the bacteria permeating into the fabric of your clothing, obviously.
• Say that you had to speed-pedal the entire way because bigfoot was chasing you with a really, really big stick.
• Get there early and rub a pair of your stinky socks on each office chair so that everyone smells, not just you.
• Tell anyone who will listen about how you're product testing the Stink-O-Meter 5000 and you won't be paid for your work if you don't make yourself smelly for the diagnostic tests.
• Only stand in groups of three people, and every time one person isn't looking, turn to the other and mouth, "Ugh, gross," and fan your hand in front of your nose.
WHEN THAT DOESN'T WORK, DO THESE THINGS
Shower beforehand: Even though you'll probably be getting sweaty during your ride, you'll be better off if you wash yourself ahead of time. This gets rid of dirt from your sleep and makes room for new sweat without creating any buildup that's bad for your skin or promotes smell. Yum, right?
Gear with ventilation: Find a bag that allows for space between your back and the straps. The more air flow you get on your ride, the better off you'll be when you're at your destination.
Keep deodorant or body spray at your desk: This is self-explanatory. If you leave something at work to mask your smell, then it's one less thing you have to carry. And you should probably reapply these things, because it's very likely that you'll sweat it all off on your way in.
Slow it down: Decrease your speed during the last 5 to 10 minutes of your ride. This will lower your body temperature, drying off old sweat and lessen the amount of new sweat.
Store emergency clothes: You may want to bring new clothes with you every day, but leaving a spare outfit, or even something as simple as clean undergarments and socks, could save you when you accidentally forget an essential while rushing out the door.
Wipe yourself off: Use a wet cloth or use ice cube to dab your brow, behind your ears, and along the back of your neck. This will both cool you down and wipe off some residue that can begin to smell over time. Keeping your skin clean is hygiene 101.
TO HELP EVEN MORE, WEAR THESE THINGS
Clothing with stretch: Wear flexible clothing to enhance your freedom of movement while biking. Avoid anything baggy, as this will increase drag and possibly even get in the way of your range of motion.
Moisture-wicking clothing: To promote airflow and help keep body odor at bay, wear clothing that wicks moisture off the skin and dries quickly. As a quick reference, the best materials are: polyester, nylon, bamboo rayon, merino wool, or any stretchy blend.
Waterproof shell: Riding in waterproof jackets can get warm, even if it's cooler out. For this reason, you should consider a jacket with pit zips so you can release heat and prevent sweat build-up while biking in the rain. 'Cause you know what they say about sweat: it's stinky.
Legwear: When choosing pants, you'll want something that won't interfere with the bike chain. Look for slim fit pants or something with legs that easily roll up. Commuter-specific pants will cover more of your lower back for modesty. Most of them are excellent at wicking moisture, and many are made with Spandex, Lycra, or elastane for extra stretch. Alternatively, you can always go with a pair of capris or shorts to avoid getting all sweaty when it's hot out.
Visibility: No matter the time of day, visibility is crucial. This is why a lot of brands are adding subtle reflective stripes or accents to commuter jackets and pants as an added safety measure. As a cyclist, you want to take every precaution and do everything in your power to avoid an accident on the road. Trust me, it stinks just as much as you do.
DON'T FORGET TO BRING THESE THINGS
Cleansing wipes: You can get these at nearly any convenience store, and they're a great way to wipe down your body after a sweaty commute. The main benefit, beyond being easy to transport, is that they're disposable. Instead of finding a way to dry or store your wet towel, you can just toss these in the trash after one use.
Microfiber travel towel: If you're looking for something more environmentally friendly than disposable wipes, consider bringing along a microfiber cloth to wipe yourself down. These will absorb moisture better than a regular wash cloth but can also be dampened for a more thorough cleanse. You can leave one at work, but remember that you'll have to bring it home fairly regularly so that it gets washed. You don't need to be wiping away stink with even more stink.
Baby powder / dry shampoo: Look, we know your hair can get pretty nasty when you start sweating. In fact, everyone knows that, and everyone can see it, too. Keep some dry shampoo or baby powder at work (or bring it along with you) so that you can quickly get rid of your greasy look. Pro Tip: wait for your hair to fully dry. If you add product while it's wet, you'll just create a really white, really gross, really obvious paste.
Spare clothing: Pack a change of clothes into a packing garment folder from Eagle Creek to prevent wrinkling. Whether you leave a spare outfit at work or bring it with you, you're going to want to make sure you have a stink-free option when things get a little sweaty on the road.
Storage areas: Any good commuter pack should be durable, weather-resistant, and contain a padded pocket for your electronics if you carry a laptop or tablet. Messenger bags and slings are popular options for bicycle commuters because you can easily swing ‘em over to your side and access your pack contents without missing a beat. If you tend to carry a lot throughout the day, a dedicated seat pack or pannier can give you the extra storage space you need without overstuffing your day bag.
Now that you know all the ways to make commuting to work stink less, make sure you lock down what bike gear you should be bringing along for long days on the road.