Odds & Ends: Bicycle Commuting Without Stinking

Do you fire up the old fuel-sucking money-burner just to drive a few miles into the office, all because your place of respectable employ has no shower? Well you'll have to rethink your excuse because the post-ride stink is one of the easiest things to beat.

Many people find a post-exercise sheen of glistening sweat to be a real turn-on. So if your worries are somewhat sub-professional, then just get out and ride without worry. But if you need to attend clients, sit in on vital meetings, and conduct your daily business without looking like a Nike commercial reject, then read on. The following tips will keep you clean and smelling your official best, all without any dependence on one of those fancy shower contraptions.

Start With A Shower
It seems counterintuitive, but showering before your ride will keep you from smelling like a European subway station. Sweat by itself doesn't smell bad. If you start out clean, there's less opportunity for bacteria to grow and fewer particles for sweat to make skin-sludge from. So shower up first.

Never Wear Cotton
Don't listen to the siren-song of cotton. Yes it keeps you cool in hot weather, but that's because it absorbs and traps sweat (enhancing the evaporative cooling effect.) Cotton dries slowly, meaning that the sweat it traps stays against your skin, keeping you wet and allowing stinky bacteria to grow. Instead, wear a wicking fabric. Any outdoor gear store employee will be able to point you toward racks upon racks of wicking clothes. You don't need cycling-specific clothes, anything that wicks will do. Just don't put anything over it or under it. You want airflow to carry your wicked sweat away. You'll still sweat, of course, but most of it will have evaporated by the time you reach your destination.

Pack A Change of Clothes
Unless your ride is 3 miles or less, it's best to ride in a set of wicking duds and change at work. If you have an office, you can keep clothes there. If not, just put your crisp power suit in a garment bag and roll the whole thing up like a big jelly roll. This will prevent wrinkles (even in linen) and makes things easy to carry.

After a quick wipe-down with a damp towel, just apply some fresh deodorant and call yourself good. Some people swear by an additional application of a body spray, but it's really not necessary. With the right clothes, a small towel, and regular deodorant, you'll look and smell as professional as if you'd just stepped out of the shower.