Here in NYC, it actually feels like we have transitioned into a 2 season calendar. A bitter winter and a brutal summer. However, this should not stop you from commuting by bicycle. I am required to wear a shirt and tie everyday of the week. Below is how I manage to remain sanitary while bike commuting through the summer.
1. Do NOT commute in your work clothes. Commute in your gym clothes!
You will sweat through your work clothes no matter the distance of the commute or the time of day. It will be crucial to pack your work clothes correctly so that you can change at the office. Plan to wear athletic clothes for the commute. I prefer a jersey and bike shorts.
You may be exiled from the office if you choose to commute in your dress clothes . Your sweat will soak into all of the cotton you are wearing. This includes your undergarments. By noon you will be RIPE; however, you won’t notice a thing. Your lack of hygiene will be the talk at the lunch table. The one you aren’t allowed to sit at. That’s a guarantee. So save yourself the embarrassment and pack your work clothes.Carry them in a backpack, messenger bag, or panniers.
2. Prepare your work clothes for the day!
I prepare for the day as if I am not riding. Meaning, I iron my pants and my shirt to ensure my clothes are not wrinkled at the office. The key to keeping them this way is to pack them properly.
For pants, simply fold them in half and roll them tight! Rolling prevents wrinkles and keeps them crisp. For extra security you can rubber band them, but this is usually not necessary.
For the shirt, which is the hard one, you will fold it as if you are putting it
back into a package (see left picture). You then want to put it in a large freezer bag that is blown up with air. This creates a bubble so that the shirt can not be wrinkled by any other items in your bag. Keep in mind your shirt will NEVER be wrinkle free, even if you are commuting in a car. This is by far the best method I have used for packing my dress shirts. It has yet to fail. In fact, some people have commented on my ironing job, not knowing I just pulled it from my back pack.
3. Allow an extra 10-15 minutes in your commute.
There is no doubt that you will be hot and sweaty by the time you arrive at the office. You are a human being. This is why it is crucial to arrive about 10-15 minutes early to cool down. Take that time to simply sit and allow your temperature to regulate.
4. Always carry these essential items: antiperspirant, rubbing alcohol, and brush/comb.
If you have access to a shower at work you are extremely fortunate. However, many of us do not. This is why these 3 items will be crucial for you and the co-workers around you. The rubbing alcohol can be used to wipe down the high sweat areas. This will eliminate the odor. Think of it as the foundation to the deodorant. Remember to always carry a comb/brush to fix your helmet hair. Finally. if your feeling real spicy, carry your cologne.
All of these should be applied once you have cooled down and the sweat has dried. This can all be taken care of in a bathroom or office so there is no need for a shower. I promise your co-workers will never know you cycled in.
That’s it. It’s simple, but effective! Commute in athletic clothes, pack your work clothes properly, allow time to cool down, and carry the essential grooming products. You will commute happily throughout the summer if you can follow this formula.