Is the hot and humid weather making you sweat too much to consider bike commuting this summer? Read this post for some helpful tips for managing sweat while biking in hot weather.
If you live in a place that gets hot in the summer, sweat can be a serious deterrent to biking to work as much as you'd like. Who wants to stroll into their office dripping with perspiration?
Tactics for Minimizing Sweat
First let's talk about ways to minimize sweat when biking in hot weather. Sweating is a natural and healthy way for your body to cool itself, so it's pointless to try and stop it completely. Rather, think about other ways to keep your body cool so it doesn't rely as much on sweating.
1. Devise a hot weather bike route
Consider changing up your route when biking in hot weather to one that will keep you cooler. A shaded route away from car traffic, whose air conditioning exhaust really heats up the atmosphere, makes a big difference. This can be a route through quieter neighborhood streets or through parks.
Similarly, selecting a route with fewer inclines will keep you from building up your heart rate and making you sweat. We also recommend riding at a slower pace for the same reasons. Yes, we know that for many people, their bike commute is their exercise. But, in hot weather, you can lay off the gas and the steep climbs - at least in the morning.
Your "hot weather bike route" will likely be longer than your normal bike route, so allow for some extra time in the morning, especially if you heed our advice to bike slower.
2. It matters what you wear
Remember when we said that sweating was your body's natural way to cool itself? That's because when sweat evaporates, it cools your skin down. What you choose to wear can help or hinder this process from happening
One tactic is to expose skin (don't forget to use sunblock!) so that when you sweat, the breeze from biking will evaporate it. Wear a tank top and shorts, and then pack a lightweight dress or top in your bag that you can just throw over the top when you get to work.
Another option is to wear clothing that wicks. You may be familiar with these technical fabrics from your athletic wear, but we're seeing more and more of this in casual and professional clothing.
Lastly, it may seem counterintuitive to wear wool in summer, but wool’s insulating properties work both ways - they insulate you from the outside temperature too. Wearing a thin wool dress or top can help stabilize your body temperature and it doesn’t retain any odor, which is nice, because some synthetic fabrics can do that. Check out brands like Ibex and Icebreaker for summer merino wool to bike in.
3. Using a bike bag to stay cool
Using backpacks and/or messenger bags to carry things on your body will really make your back super sweaty because there's no way to let the sweat on your back evaporate.
We're always advocates of using bike bags to carry things on your bike, but never is this more critical than when biking in hot weather.
Our Bergen Pannier ($115) is probably our most popular choice for a bike commuter bag because of its capacity. It can comfortably fit a laptop, change of shoes, sack lunch, or whatever else you need.
If the Bergen Pannier is more than what you need, try out the Uptown Bike Trunk Bag ($80), which doubles as a handsome satchel off the bike.
Tactics for dealing with sweat after it occurs
Now, there's no way to avoid getting sweaty all together, but there are some ways to deal with it once you get to your destination.
If you're lucky enough to have a shower at your office or at a gym nearby, then you are all set. Just leave some extra time in the morning to freshen up once you get to the office.
If not, we still have some ideas for you.
1. Evaporate the sweat
You may have noticed that you feel okay while bike riding, but as soon as you stop at a stoplight or at your final destination, your body heats up like a furnace. That's because when you're in motion, the wind is moving over your skin, helping evaporate your sweat and keep you cool. When you stop, there's nothing to do that.
Therefore, the first thing we suggest to do is get in front of some kind of fan to evaporate all that sweat. Keeping a small battery operated fan in your bag or at your desk can be a great way to handle that.
Next, you'll want clean up the salty sweaty residue. Disposable wipes are your go-to for that. You can always use baby wipes, but for non baby-scented options, try Action Wipes. Looking for a more environmentally friendly option? Keep a washcloth at your office and do a little sink bath with some vinegar. We know that sounds crazy, but the smell goes away once it dries and it leaves your skin super soft.
3. Change of clothes
For those incredibly hot and sweaty days, a full change of clothes, including your undies, may be what you need to feel refreshed. Many people keep extra clothes in their office for biking in hot weather for this very reason.
And don't forget...
water water water water water water water water water water water water water
When biking in hot weather, bring along lots of water to drink during your bike ride, as well as before and after. It's easy to sweat out the water and be left feeling dehydrated, which is definitely no fun and can be quite serious.
With these suggestions on managing summer sweat we hope you're ready to try biking in hot weather!