Sweat-free summer? Strategies for cycling

As the height of summer approaches, it seemed like time to amass some tips for cycling in the heat into one post. Here they are: my tips and tricks for riding in the heat over four summers in Nashville. None are rocket science, all have helped me at one time or another.

Something else that's good for keeping cool: Ice cream!

  • Get baby wipes, or, better yet, ActionWipes, to keep at your office and wipe down once you arrive.
  • If your feet sweat, put baby powder or cornstarch in your shoes before leaving the house, and after you arrive at work.
  • Use dry shampoo (did you know you can make it yourself? True fact!) to absorb odor from sweaty hair. Also: braids braids BRAIDS.
  • Ride slowly! It’s surprising how much of a difference this can make. Dottie talks about that here.
  • Wear loose clothing—dresses, loose linen shirts, etc. The more air can hit your core, the cooler you will be.
  • Consider a dark color or a fabric with a print, the better to hide any sweat stains (tip of the hat to Lovely Bicycle for the print idea).
  • Pick a route with minimal stoplights and traffic. There’s nothing worse than sitting at a red light, with heat radiating off cars and the blacktop. Side streets also tend to be shadier.
  • Don’t apply lotion (including body lotion) or foundation before leaving the house. It blocks your pores and will make you sweat more. (If anyone has found a body lotion that does not do this—please let me know what it is!)
  • Keep your back clear! Put up your hair, use a pannier, not a backpack, etc.

All that said, working up a light “glisten” on summer bike rides is usually unavoidable. If you have to smell like a human for a few minutes once you get to your destination, give yourself a break. Just think of all the toxins you are unloading!

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping cool while biking in the summer? Tell us in the comments!

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21 thoughts on “Sweat-free summer? Strategies for cycling

  1. Amber says:

    You have seriously saved my life. I keep going to the office very sweaty. T_T Thank you soooo much

  2. Re body lotion: I’ve recently switched to Jojoba oil on the advice of a local cyclist; total game changer!

  3. Dottie says:

    I am so happy that I do not have to deal with Southern heat.  I know I’m going to be one huge puddle while visiting Nashville next month; meanwhile, you always manage to look fresh as a daisy.  :)  Chicago has been oddly hot this summer (100 degrees today – again!) and I’ve been using all these tips, plus having a fan in my office to help me cool down before heading to the bathroom for the wetnap bath helps a lot. 

  4. Lem_c80 says:

    I ride at (about) 10mph to my office  (about 6mi away)  so that I may not break  a sweat. On the top of this I always leave about 30min earlier than the 10mph could get me to my office on time.
    Sometimes  I would leave home even earlier if I decide to drop by some shop , bakery, butchery etc to order/buy something or just chat with the owner/staff.). I  try to make every one of my ride an enjoyable one.
    (My staff members have been told that they could arrive upto half an hour late should they ride a bike  to work … in ‘normal conditions’)
    Arriving at my office I think it’s my pheromone :D , not body-odour, that emanates from me … errrr….errrr…  judging from the multiple  offficious offerings of coffee or cold-drinks. :D

    {For those who need to know(otherwise skip this , please)
    I think it is my pshysiological or genetic make-up that I don’t sweat easily – I  sweat only after going through rigorous activity – such as playing tennis …. even then people get close to me without pinching their noses or giving me the side of their faces while speaking to me. (In this situation and out of courtesy, I would spare my friends/companions unexpected untoward discomfort by making a beeline to my bathroom at the earliest … just in case there’s a biological change in me.)  ( I don’t own even a bottle/container of deodorant in the last 3decade + years … this ‘worries’ me sometime … Am I a ‘freak’?}

  5. Lem says:

    Sorry for ‘typo’ errors! Hmmmm …that’s me!

  6. Totally realize what your stance in this issue. Although I’d disagree on some of the finer details, I believe you do an awesome job explaining it. 

  7. Accordion says:

    Often ride in the heat here in the land of Oz. I train in & ride home, roughly 22 k (13.5m), often at the hottest part of the day. In January & February it reaches 40C routinely. Best tip? Take a change of clothes, and ride in whatever is comfy. For me that is padded knicks & long sleeved summer jersey. My work is air conditioned & we all wear tailored clothing. I can’t bring myself to ride that distance in my beautiful wool trousers.

    LOTS of water on the bike, sunscreen on the face. My toiletries bag at work has wipes, deodourant, make up kit and a mini hair straightener. I use super strong underarm stuff and it works!!!

  8. Lem says:

    Earlier today I asked 4 of my colleagues (ladies) what they used and did to freshen up themselves when they arrived at the office on their bicycles. Three of them keep a bottle of their favourite eau-de-cologne  in the office – wipe themselves with wet face-towels – then they would splash some cologne on their damp towels (after rinsing and squeezing dry) and wipe themselves again. They choose this method as they do not like the smell of the wipes. All 4 apply ‘baby-powder’ after wiping themselves – including on their napes. 
    (The other point they mentioned was that they did/do not ride at (excessively) high speeds.)

  9. Cyso4w says:

    biking in Atlanta…baby powder, baby powder, baby powder!  and it’s not unusual to take two + showers a day!

  10. Ridonrides says:

    i use a homemade body spray made of rubbing alcohol and essential oils (bought mine at whole foods.  i use lavender).  i used an empty hair spray sample bottle.  it’s great for cooling down.  hold your breath and close your eyes if you’re using it on your face.

  11. Ridonrides says:

    i use a homemade body spray made of rubbing alcohol and essential oils (bought mine at whole foods.  i use lavender).  i used an empty hair spray sample bottle.  it’s great for cooling down.  hold your breath and close your eyes if you’re using it on your face.

  12. […] more here: Sweat-free summer? Strategies for cycling « Let's Go Ride a Bike … This entry was posted in Blog Search and tagged break, destination, give, glisten, human, light, […]

  13. elisa m says:

    I keep a blowdryer at the office and blast myself with the COLD setting for a few seconds to dry my hair…and whatnot. Works like a charm. Also: Trish, you look adorable! 

  14. aem2 says:

    You can make your own wipes, and then scent them how you like!

    I freeze my filled water bottle/bag with ice and make sure to drink every time I stop — I have a lot of stop lights on my route, so it’s pretty easy.

    How do you avoid the blocked pore issue if you have to wear sunblock!

  15. Karen says:

    Thanks for the reminder about toxin elimination, Trisha!  I feel a little less awkward about my sweating problem.  I’ve actually been focused on this subject for the last few weeks.  Since I have practicum 2x weekly this fall and have to look professional I plan to keep a large stash of baby wipes at my desk.  I’m thinking of packing my work clothes with me and changing in the bathroom upon arrival – a horrible concession, I my book.  I decided that dresses are the best options in the intense heat so yesterday I went shopping and found myself purchasing based on what fabric would be the least likely to show sweat.  I think your recommendation about lotion and foundation is spot on, although I have no choice about my SPF.  You just can’t be out in the sun without an SPF in Arizona.

  16. maco says:

    How do you put your hair up and bike? Do you skip the helmet?

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