How to bike commute – without getting gross
I like riding my bike to work, but so far this year the drizzly, freezing winter weather has kept me firmly in the heated seats of my car for getting there. I’ve been waiting for a warm snap so I can get my exercise in on the way to work, and this week I should finally have a chance – the forecast has some 50-60 degree days in store for us. I’ve been packing my commuting bag and that seemed like a good chance to show what I take and how I pack it. Most importantly though, I’ve also got some tips on how to not look like you’ve just rolled in from the gym.
Skincare & hygieneSurprisingly I don’t need too much stuff in order to clean myself up after biking (more tips on how to accomplish that in a minute). I take some makeup wipes to clean up my sweaty face once I get there (and to take off my makeup before the ride home), plus moisturizer and sunscreen. A little bit of hair styling product transferred to a travel pump helps tame my curls, and of course deodorant is essential. I use a couple ‘adult flushable wipes’ (apparently that’s the technical term – I had to google it) to towel off body sweat after my ride; I cheat a little bit by storing these in my desk, but you could always just pop a few in a plastic baggie if you don’t have a place to leave things overnight.
I like to keep things pretty basic so I don’t have to haul a ton of stuff with me. During the spring and summer when I ride my bike more often, I just keep a makeup stash in my desk at work.
For concealers, primers and foundation, I try to either use travel sizes or put a little bit in sample jars. Eyeshadow pencils are also a huge space saver, and as a bonus you don’t need a bunch of brushes for them. I usually skip contouring and highlighting on bike days just to cut down the number of products I need to take.
All of the makeup and skincare things fit very nicely into one of the zip bags from my Trish McEvoy organizer:
Aside from skincare and makeup, there’s obviously some other stuff I need to take. Like clothes and shoes. I have about an 8 mile ride each way and I’m a heavy sweater, so I prefer to ride in workout clothes and change into my work clothes once I get there. It means a little bit more cargo, but I also get to put on fresh clothes when I get there. To save space I condense my purse down to the essentials that will fit in a clutch.
I use a Koki pannier to transport my stuff; I believe the exact model I have is discontinued, but they have a similar one here. It fits everything easily, but putting my clothes in loose can get kind of disorganized. Solution:
Roll those clothes up and stick ’em in a gallon zip bag! If you do it carefully it will help keep them from getting too many creases; knits and denim seem to resist wrinkling the best. Putting them in a bag will also help keep them dry if you run through any puddles.
The biggest concern I had before I started riding my bike was being all smelly and sweaty once I got there, which would not be cute. With time and some advice from the internets, I’ve found a few ways to avoid that.
Shower once you get there
If you have a gym nearby, you might be able to negotiate a deal with them to use their shower and locker facilities. That’s not always an option though, so…
Clean sweat isn’t stinky
Body odor is the result of sweat and bacteria having a little party together, so making sure you’re clean before you set off will help avoid that. By the time you get there, toweling off with some wet wipes should be enough to freshen up.
Stay cool and dry as possible
If you give yourself a bit of extra time so you can go slower, you won’t work up as much of a sweat. Wearing sweat-wicking fabrics close to your skin will encourage sweat to evaporate off, and keeping your bikini area well-groomed will also keep moisture from getting trapped against your skin.
Take a change of underwear
Trust me on this. Even if you have a short commute and just ride in your work clothes, you’ll feel much fresher with a new pair of undies.
Hand dryers are your friend
Hair dryers are kind of bulky to be taking back and forth on your bike, so it can be handy to leave one at work if you can. If not, hand dryers in the restrooms are a decent substitute as long as you’re not trying to do a full blow-out.
Do you have any tips or questions about bike commuting or how to freshen up after a workout? Put ’em in the comments!