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11 Tips to Beat Sweat and Body Odor When you Cycle to Work

Cycling to work is one of the most enjoyable ways to start off your day. There’s nothing like feeling like a kid again with the wind your face and a good workout to wake up your body.

But one of the unwanted consequences to all this benefit is that you get to work all hot and sweaty. Let’s be honest, we all know somebody who turns up to meetings less than fresh, and you don’t wan’t to be that person.

So, if your not blessed with showers at your work place then don’t let this put you off reaping the benefits and fun of cycling to work.

Here are 11 tips that can help you have a fresh, clean day at work, whilst still riding your bike in.

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#1: Shower Before You Leave

Having a shower before you set off for your cycling commute means that your body is free of bacteria before you start sweating.

Remember, it’s not your sweat that smells, it is the bad bacteria on your body that smells when you get sweaty.

So making sure you shower first will mean that when you do sweat, the smell won’t be as offensive.

#2: Leave Early for your Commute

This will help you in a couple of ways:

  1. You can travel at a leisurely pace so that you don’t work up as much of a sweat in the first place
  2. You will have enough time when you get into work to freshen up before you start your day (see next tip). If there is nowhere suitable, the bathroom cubicles are available and are usually nice and clean first thing in the morning when you get in!

#3: Keep a ‘Freshen Up’ Kit at Work

If you are able to, it’s a good idea to leave a ‘freshen up’ kit at work, perhaps in your desk drawer or locker, that you can access as soon as you get in.

This can contain all the toiletries and bits and bobs you may need after a sweaty cycle ride. Here are few handy bits to keep a regular supply of:

  • Baby wipes – I like to use Huggies baby wipes (Amazon link) as they are thick, fragrance free and leave very little residue to wipe off afterwards. Alternatively you can use a face flannel – You can wet this and clean yourself off under your arms and anywhere else that may be sweaty.
  • A towel – Using a microfiber sports towel is best, as they are extremely absorbent for drying yourself off after you’ve baby wiped.
  • Deodorant – Consider spraying it on more than just your arm pits, such as your chest, neck and anywhere else you may get sweat marks.
  • Dry shampoo – You may not need this one if you have short hair, but for long hair it is quite useful on those hot and humid days, to help keep grease at bay.
  • Make up if you wear it.
  • Hairbrush
  • Spare socks and underwear

#4: Take a Spare Change of Clothes and Shoes

You can either keep some spare clothes and shoes at work, or you can carry them with you so that you can get changed when you get there. This is especially useful if it is raining outside, as you may have to deal with mud spraying on to you, especially if you don’t have mudguards and a chain guard on your bike. And don’t forget your hooded rain jacket!

If it’s not raining and your not dealing with a lot of humidity, you could probably get away with a change of socks at the minimum.

#5: Don’t use a Backpack

When you’re cycling to work with things to carry (like your spare clothes and shoes), don’t carry those in a backpack. Not only will it be a harder workout for you (which means more sweat), but you will also have to deal with a large sweat patch on your back.

If you are commuting to work everyday it is definitely worth investing in a rack and panniers. (Here’s a great set on Amazon that fits your laptop, documents and work essentials in easily).

You can safely pack away a work suit without it creasing the way it might do in a backpack, and a spare pair of shoes will easily fit too.

Panniers are much less of a weight to carry than a backpack is when you are cycling, even if it’s the same overall weight, because you are not directly holding the full weight of what you are carrying. Your bike and it’s momentum will take some of the weight off.

#6: Consider Base Layers

You  may want to consider wearing base layers underneath your clothes. Wearing moisture-wicking base layers that are designed to keep you cool will be much more comfortable for you, and you are less likely to leave sweat patches on your clothes, as you will generally be kept much cooler.

You can then take your bases off at work and leave them to dry ready for your journey home. (Merino wool base layers like these on Amazon are especially good at this)

#7: Keep a Cool Head

The type of helmet you wear will make a big difference to how cool you feel. Invest in a good quality cycle helmet that is specifically tested and designed with good ventilation in mind. This will keep your head cool and free from excess sweat.

Something like this one (Amazon link) has lot’s of space for moisture to wick away and allow good air flow.

#8: Get Into Position

Adjust your bike as much as you can to have a more upright position rather than a racers position. This will make you less likely to race ahead, keeping the sweat at bay.

Your seat should be high enough that your feet are in tip toe position on the floor when you are on your seat. This will make a difference to the amount of energy you have to put into to each rotation.

Having the right sized bike and having it adjusted to the right position will make your commute more comfortable and less sweaty.

#9: Keep At It!

The fitter you are, the less you will sweat on your journey. If you cycle to work every day, your body will soon adjust and get used to the exercise it gets on your commute every morning, and it will be easier as you do it more.

Consider going out for cycle rides in your spare time that are a longer distance than your commute, and before you know it, the commute into work will be a breeze!

#10: Be Cooler than the Weather

Dress as if it’s a little warmer than what the weather is actually like outside, but take that extra layer with you just in case. This will stop you overheating (and over sweating).

#11: Take it Slow at the End

If it is possible, slow down towards the end of your journey. Treat it like the cool down part of your workout. That way your body has time to cool off in the wind, and your core body temperature can start to come down, so that by the time you get into work, you are not sweating anymore, and you can start to freshen up immediately.

Good Luck and Enjoy the Ride!

There are so many factors that will be unique to your bicycle commute:

  • How far you have to travel
  • The weather
  • What you have to wear to work
  • And more…

Use as many of these tips as are useful to you and most importantly, enjoy your journey!

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