How Can I Ride My Bike to Work Without Getting Sweaty?
No shower at work? No problem. It really is possible to commute by bicycle without showing up at the office drenched. The cycling enthusiasts at Stack Exchange offer some advice.
I'm planning to commute by bicycle to work in hot Montreal. I have to wear business casual to formal clothes (no jacket, usually). How do I not sweat? I'm particularly looking for: Helmet features that prevent sweating, tips on rhythm, speed, pace, etc. that prevent sweating, and bags that will make me sweat less. Any other tips would be greatly appreciated!
Panniers & Pace (Answered by Alex Jones)
Even a short sprint or uphill effort can make a big difference in how sweaty I am when I get to the office. Maintain a consistently low effort, using low gears for any uphills. Panniers are good, since backpacks and messenger bags not only insulate, but also hold your shirt directly against your sweaty back. Often I'll put my shirt in my pannier and just change that when I get to the office. Pants take a bit longer to soak through, but they're even more embarrassing if they do, so be careful. If you can, change your hours so you can ride in during the coolest part of the day. On a sunny day, the temperature rises a lot between 7am and 9am.
Conditions, Conditions (Answered by Daniel R Hicks)
Basically, getting "sweaty" is a function of the temperature, humidity, clothing, level of effort, length of exercise, and your personal propensity to sweat. If you're dressed lightly enough, the weather is not too bad (below 75F and maybe 60% humidity), you travel only a short distance (maybe 2 miles max) on relatively level ground, and you maintain a very "casual" pace, then you can hope to arrive without too much visible sweat. (You may have to wipe your forehead, eg, but possibly that's it.) For shorter distances you can probably stretch the other parameters a bit.
The killer, of course, is humidity. If the relative humidity is 80% it's going to be hard to avoid working up a sweat, regardless of the other factors. Rather than simply hoping that you won't get sweaty I'd recommend having a way to change your shirt and "freshen up" a bit on arriving at your job. Look into one of the "sport towels" for drying off at work. They're compact and travel well.
Casual Laps (A comment by Daniel R Hicks)
Sometimes it works to ride a couple of casual laps around the parking lot after arriving. And try to do your dismounting and taking stuff off the bike, etc. in the shade.
A Few Keys (Answered by SamtheBrand)
"No-sweat cycling" is a much talked about art that will never be perfected. Luckily, you don't have to be perfect to make riding to work in your work clothes a viable option. I do it several times a week (in NYC, over a bridge), some days finding more success staying sweat-free than others.
A couple keys: Weather is a big determining factor. If it's particularly muggy out, don't ride. Find another way to get to work. But for most summer days (in NYC, and I'd think in Montreal) riding in work clothes is doable. That is, as long as your commute is no longer than about 5 miles and relatively flat. Of course, no ride is perfectly flat. And hills are where most riders work hard, get hot, and get wet-sweating is your body's attempt at wicking away heat from your core. Choose an easy gear on hills, and as Cyclescheme advises, "treat each pedal stroke like a step on a flight of stairs"-a light step. T
his goes for the entire ride: go easy. Cycling is efficient-about 300% more efficient than walking, according to studies cited by cycling advocate Ryan Rzepecki. That means that on a bike you can commute to work at an average speed about three-times as fast as the speed at which you would sweat on the same commute on foot. This is fuzzy math, but the main point rings true: You really can get to work efficiently on a bike without breaking a heavy sweat. That is, as long as you're not the type of person who breaks into a heavy sweat on a leisurely stroll. If that's the case, and maybe even if it's not: Anti Monkey Butt.
Slow Down at the End (Answered by Alan Gerber)
It's common to sweat the hardest immediately following the completion of your ride. With no wind increasing evaporation, the sweat starts to pool. And it's even worse if you have to stand around in a warm commercial space (in my case, a freight elevator lobby) following your ride. Try to take the ride easy, especially the final leg, and hold something cold, such as an ice pack or cold drink, against your head or neck to cool down quickly.
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