Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PSA: How To Bike Commute On A 100+ Degree Day

I was going to post about my 4th of July road trip with the LHT but that'll wait until tomorrow. It was already 92 degrees when I biked in this morning and I think that warrants a public service announcement.

I think the most common question people have when they learn I commute by bike everyday is, "Do you have a shower at work?". It doesn't matter if we're talking summer heat or winter freeze, most people think that having a shower at work is the only way bike commuting can work. It dawned on my this morning while pushing through the heat that not having a shower in the office is stopping a lot of people from even considering the bike as a way to get to work.

I don't want a shower at work, it would make the process of biking to work longer and more tedious. Taking a shower is an important element of bike commuting in the summer heat but take it before the ride, not after. The best way I've found to manage the DC summer is to take a shower right before I leave the house.

If you are a burning hot when you get to work and take a quick shower odds are you'll start sweating again the second you step out to dry yourself off. Your sweat isn't what cools you down, it's that sweat evaporating that does the trick so when you get to work all sweaty find a fan, a big ass fan.

This BAF circulates the air in the parking garage under my building. It's never on but I can plug it in when I need it. Three minutes in front of this with my shirt held open cools me down enough to enter the building. If  I'm still hot after changing in the bathroom I head to my desk where i have a stick of deodorant and a small fan waiting. After about 10 minutes I have to turn the fan off because I get too cold. If you can't find a BAF try two small ones at your desk, you'll be surprised at how effective they are.

All that an no shower! It's a quick process and because I took a shower right before leaving the house I'm relatively clean.  

Another way to beat the heat is to wear sandals on your ride. Last fall I switched to platform pedals on the LHT (yeah you know me). In the winter I wear my boots, in the summer I've started wearing my Tevas. They're not ideal for long rides but they are fine for a commute and they keep my feet nice and cool.

Now I know that everybody's physiology is different, some of us are sweaty pigs that stink like a barnyard after a ride. Just give it a try, modify your routine until it works for you. Asking your coworkers to let you know if you smell of barnyard isn't a bad idea either.

Got a good hot weather commuting technique? Please share it with the rest of the class.

Now get out there and kick this Wednesday in the jimmy.

PSA: Fighting The Funk


Anonymous said...

Would recommend panniers to carry any gear. I used to use a big bailey works bag to carry all my work attire/lunch etc., but found that my back was soaking wet after the ride. I think lots of new commuters make this mistake. Panniers and saddlebags are definitely the way to go.

Cycle Jerk said...

Good point. I use an old Dueter AC Lite 25 backpack which has internal frame that bends the pack away from my back allowing for airflow. That said, panniers would keep me cooler.

Philippe said...

I use SPD sandals from Keen. When the toes get fresh air, it is like all the body get better.

Anonymous said...

Take a small zip lock baggie and fill with ice cubes then place against your chest near your heart and this will circulate your cooled blood throughout the body.

BluesCat said...

Yeah, I'm definitely a Sweaty Pig. Plus the fact my 8 mile ride to work is in Phoenix, Arizona. My metabolism LAUGHS at such puny measures as mere deodorant and baby wipes. Gotta have a genuine shower at the end of my ride or even I can smell me!

Unknown said...

I fall into the sweaty pig category too. So I need a shower so as not to gross out my co-workers.

I use a commuter garment bag pannier (Bike Nashbar usually $59.99). Its a great garment bag that just happens to have hooks for a bike rack. I carry a mesh toiletry bag, change of underwear in the outside pockets. I carry spare tube and tools in the small middle pocket and shirt, pants and towel in the inside. I use a micro fiber beach towel that is very light weight (5 oz).

I also agree with the sandals. I have A pair of Shimano SPD equipped sandals. I don't put on my socks until I get to the office.


Cycle Jerk said...

Nice. I've thought about using a garment bag but as one on the creative side of the IT industry, everyone kind of expects my shirts to be wrinkled.

As for the sandals I may have to try the Keens. Tevas sole is a little too flexible.

Commutercycle said...

I also use the nashbar pannier suitbag and love it. Got caught in the afternoon storm last Fri and the bag was soaked but not a drop inside.