Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bicycle Commuting: Showers and Stink

RL over at has a good post about avoiding the stink when bicycle commuting to work. I won't rehash the conversation here. Okay, maybe I will a little. But first a little rant. When I hear otherwise rational and environmentally-concerned people make excuses (and they are just excuses) for why they can't bike commute to work, one of the foremost reasons is that they are worried about stinking. Whenever the temps go above 69F, I sweat as if someone attached a garden hose to my skin. I have an extremely sensitive nose, to boot.

Yet I bicycle commute year-round (I have no car).

I will admit that my situation is a little easier than most. I have a private office, there are showers here, and I can park my bicycle in my office. But I have not always had it so easily.

Stop with the excuses. If you don't like to bike commute, just say so. But don't go buying a hybrid car to salve your conscience. It's okay to be slightly hypocritical; we all do it when we start to espouse principles.  But don't try to piss on me and tell me it's raining.

Okay, rant over. For starters, to dodge the stink, start out clean. You should shower before and after your rides anyway. Wait, didn't I just say that a lack of showers was an excuse? More on that in a moment.

Use a good deodorant. I despise anti-perspirants, even though I am a good candidate for them. The idea of clogging my sweat ducts with aluminum chlorohydrate gives me a little bit of the creeps. Crystal deodorant is The Way. It rocks. The new Tom's of Maine Natural Deodorant seems to work pretty well too and has a nice smell.

Don't wear polyester. We learned that one in the 70's, yet somehow here we are in the 21st century and we seem to have forgotten that polyester fucking stinks! And it is a tenacious stink; it does not wash out. Or maybe it is a conspiracy by clothing manufacturers to get us to keep buying more clothing. The solution? Wool. Yes, wool.  There is just no better fabric for bicycling.

Change your clothes once you get to work.  You sweat in your clothes, you take the clothes off, along with the sweat.  Pretty simple, huh?

But without a shower, we're still a little at a loss for getting clean. Ah, now we are getting to the crux of my post. For the sweaty, grimy commutes, I made my own cleanser/moisturizer/disinfectant/deodorizer. Inspired by Rocket Shower (of course, you could just buy Rocket Shower):

  • 50% - 90% rubbing alcohol, 1 part
  • witch hazel, 1 part
  • essential oil, your choice, although I like lime, teatree, or peppermint, 1-10 drops to"taste"
  • couple drops of olive oil, optional for moisturizing skin

Put all the ingredients in an oil mister and shake well. Spray on as needed, wipe off with soft, absorbant cloth. Enjoy your newly cleaned state sans shower. This combo also works on hair. Not exactly a shower and shampoo, but gets the sweat out and the clean in.

I find this also keeps the crotchitis away. Since I have started using this mixture, I have not had any crotch issues at all.


1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your comments in this posting. It seems to me that once some people make up their minds they won't do something, they can think of all sorts of reasons why they can't do it - for example, commuting to work by bicycle.

    Thank you for your tips! I commute to work by bike every day and I have experienced a few challenges (all but one overcome :) The last challenge on my list was clothing: I wear polyester cycling clothes purchased from a local warehouse store. They fit comfortably, but you're right! I can never get the stink out of them! :S Starting this week Monday I'm going to wear a merino wool sweater I have just to see if that makes a difference smell-wise, as per your suggestion.

    Also, thank you for the deodorant and Rocket Shower suggestions. :)