Sweating is normal and part of a healthy body. In fact, if you are in better shape you will sweat more. While sweating may not be a problem when you’re on a weekend ride with friends, there are times when you don’t want to sweat while riding a bike. As a bike commuter there were plenty of times when I did not want to show up to work hot, sweaty, and looking like a mess. The good news is that there are measures you can take to stop and prevent you from sweating while cycling.
How do you bike to work without sweating? You can prevent yourself from sweating while biking to work by wearing light clothes, pedaling slowly, avoiding steep hills, carrying your things in panniers, and by riding at the right time in the right weather.
Those are the basic 6 tips that you can take to get to work without sweating. In the rest of the article, I’ll expand on each one of these tips to help you do what it takes to get to work as sweat-free as possible.
Wear the Right Clothes
The clothes you wear will affect how much you sweat. You want to be wearing clothes that allow air to circulate and cool your body down. The heavier your clothes are, the warmer you will be. Cycling in jeans and a jacket will guarantee that you start sweating. If you start to feel warm, slow down, stop, and even taken off a layer if you can. A few other tips related to clothing: don’t put on a tie until you get to work, unbutton a button or two of your shirt, roll up your pant legs, and do anything else to help your body breath while riding. Here’s a pro tip: avoid wearing dark colors such as dark green or black as they will heat you up more than lighter colors.
If you’re able to change into other clothes at work, than wear athletic moisture-wicking fabric while you cycle. Wicking fabrics will draw any moisture away from your body, which will help you stay nice and dry.
Keep it Slow
Are you going for no sweat or speed? If you’re going for speed than you’ll probably start sweating. On the other hand, if you’re willing to sacrifice speed than there’s a good chance that you won’t sweat. If sweat is a concern while cycling than leave early enough to allow you enough time to pedal at a leisurely pace. A slower pedal won’t be as strenuous on your body and will keep your body temperature lower so that it won’t sweat.
It’s important to note that many times a person can start sweating after their bike ride. One of the factors that can keep a cyclist cool is having the wind cool them down as they pedal, but once they get off the bike they no longer have that self-generated breeze to cool them down. When you are reaching the end of your ride begin to slow down more and take it easy on the final stretch to compensate for this. I have heard of some bike commuters taking a couple laps around their office parking lot to cool down fully before dismounting.
Carry Stuff on Your Bike Not Your Back
If you really want to make sure that you don’t sweat while biking to work than you need to invest in panniers or a rack to carry your things. By wearing a backpack or messenger bag you are further insulating your body which will increase your body’s temperature. A backpack will cut off the air flow from your body and increase the likelihood of you sweating profusely. Unless you want to have a giant sweaty back than I can’t recommend enough to invest in panniers or a rack to hold your things. Personally, I use the Roswheel Panniers because they’re humongous and can carry a lot of stuff. But there’s plenty of other great pannier brands out there of varying sizes and styles.
Plan the Right Route
Planning your bike route can make a huge difference in the amount you’ll physically exert during a ride. Are you able to choose a path that requires less elevation? Is there a route to your destination that is more shaded than another?
The truth is if you’re having to ride up multiple steep hills (or even a single steep hill) to get to work than there’s going to be a point where you break into a sweat. My wife and I live close to sea level and her work is up the side of a mountain. No matter what she is going to have to bike up elevation to arrive at her work. But she has the option of multiple routes. One route is shorter, but it requires her to drop into a low gear and pedal hard up an incredibly steep hill, which in turn causes her to sweat. The other route is about 2 minutes longer, but is a gradual climb that she can pedal easily along without breaking a sweat.
All this to say, choose a route that’s shaded and avoids steep climbs. If you can’t avoid a hill than make sure you’re in the lowest gear and pedaling as light as possible to ascend the hill. If you need help planning your route I put together an entire article giving ideas on how to find the best bike route here.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
You could follow all of these tips, but if the weather is blazing hot or extremely humid than all of these tips will go out the window. Watch your local weather forecast and if the weather is sweat inducing than maybe it’s a good day to drive to work or take public transportation if showing up to work sweaty isn’t an option.
Choose the Right Time
Sometimes thirty minutes can make a world of difference. Check out the morning temperatures, and you may see that leaving to work an extra 30 to 60 minutes early can help avoid the sun and higher temps. Being able to bicycle to work at dusk can help you stay cool and sweat free. Of course, you’ll need to get permission from work or have this kind of flexibility at your job to do this.
Get an E-Bike
The last option is to purchase an electric bike. If you’ve tried all of these options and you can’t stop sweating prior to work than perhaps it is time to invest in an e-bike. Electric bikes allow you an extra boost of energy to help you get up hills and propel you forward. An electric bike will require less energy and exertion from you which will keep your body temperature lower which will reduce the chance of you sweating. If it’s in the budget an electric bike is not only a great method to cycle without sweating, but fun too!
Sweating is Good For You
I understand that it can be inconvenient to sweat while you’re on your way to work. Hopefully the tips above will help you get to work without the sheen of sweat on your brow! With this said, you should not take extreme measures to prevent yourself from sweating. I have heard of people drinking less water and liquids to prevent sweating. While I understand you don’t want to deal with sweat, an extreme measure like this can do actual harm to your body.
Sweating can be inconvenient at times, but overall it is a sign of health. Sweating is a healthy physiological mechanism that your body employs to regulate and control your temperature. It can be that there’s an issue if your body is working hard and you’re not sweating. If you do show up to work a bit sweaty – you may look less professional, but at least you can smile knowing your body is working properly!
How do you freshen up at work after a bike commute? I put together 19 tips to cleaning up at work when there’s no shower. A few of these tips include having a change of clothes at work, having wet wipes to wipe down, and drinking lots of water. It’s totally possible to clean up and look professional after a bike commute even if your office doesn’t have a shower.
How do cyclists stay cool? All of the tips above can help keep you sweat free and cool, but there’s one more tip to help keep your stay nice and cool. Drink lots of water prior to the ride and bring a bottle or two of cold water for the actual ride. Drinking cool/cold water can help regulate your body temperature and keep you cool.
If you really want to keep your water cold you can fill up a water bottle halfway and freeze it before the ride. Once you’re ready to ride you can fill the second half of the water bottle with water. This way the water in your bottle will be icy cold for the entirety of the ride. As a bonus, you can cool down by placing this cold bottle on your neck and forehead.
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