If you want to bike to work but have no shower at your office, fear not it’s not as hard as you might think. This question usually relates to commuters not wanting to sweat and possibly stink out the office when they arrive (less than ideal!). Which leads on to the related question below.
How can you cycle to work without sweating?
- Untuck your shirt/blouse on your ride
- Wear light, breathable clothes
- Take it easy
- Don’t use a backpack
- Take a flannel with you
- Leave clothes at work (just in case)
- Keep a spare pair of socks in your drawer
- Stow work shoes under your desk to change into
- Keep a can of ‘dry shower’ in your drawer
- Don’t worry too much about what other people think (!)
I should confess that, although I have showers at my work, I really getting early enough and leave enough time to actually have a shower after my cycle commute!
Being in the UK, it’s not that often that we have to worry about hot weather and humidity making a sweat a lot on a cycle to work, but given that the last two summers have been pretty warm, it’s definitely worth a thought.
So, without further ado, here are some tips for you to bike to work: no shower, no problem!
Tip 1. Untuck your shirt or blouse for your ride
I know this might seem obvious, but I really don’t see many people on my cycle commute actually doing this!
I’m tucking your shirt when cycling to work allows much greater ventilation and airflow around your torso.
As you can therefore guess, this helps to keep you that a bit cooler on your morning commute.
If you are worried about looking unfit for work when you arrive, simply stop around the corner and tuck your shirt in before you are in sight of your colleagues.
Or, the other alternative, arrives that bit earlier so nobody sees you anyway and it gives you that time to cool down and regain composure are particularly hot and sweaty day of cycling to work.
Tip 2: Wear light clothes
This was something that I only really started to think about when I was fortunate enough to live in Asia teaching English for a few years.
I found that a lot of the clothes that I took with me for “summer” were actually far too dense and made me feel extremely sweaty and uncomfortable.
Anything with polyester in is a major no goal for this, so you might have to throw out those cheap shirts and blouses right now!
Jokes aside, anything with ideally cotton in it should be fine to help you keep cool on your morning ride.
I used to think the linen was the best, but actually cotton clothes fair much better on a hot day on the bike than linen, although linen clothes are still good for cycling to work.
Tip 3: Take it easy
This probably comes under “the easier said than done” category but, going hell for leather first thing in the morning on your way to work is not going to help reduce the sweat when you arrive at the office.
Go a little slower
As such, try to go a little slower than you probably like to on your right. Hammering the pedals for your 30 minute commute might help cut down on journey time but you will pay for it in beads of sweat on your back!
Leave a little earlier
To help you stay calm and composed enough to go on a slower paced, try leaving the house that 10 15 minutes earlier than you usually do.
This should allow you to just slow it down a little and still not get too stressed about getting to work on time on your back.
This is one that I certainly find quite hard to do and, whenever I do leave late, I sit and he regret it and pay the ‘sweat tax’!
Tip 4: Don’t use a backpack!
When I start a property cycle commuting about 4 years ago, my morning commute was almost all one big hill.
This was not the most pleasant ride and it was almost all all on roads, which meant I was sweaty and sucking in fumes all the way to work!
I now, fortunately, have a much gentler ride but I’ve also so got better Gear to go along with it.
One of the first things I had to change was to stop using a backpack for cycling to work. Every time I use the backpack, I would get to work with a serious part of sweat on my back, regardless of how good or well-ventilated backpack was.
Use a pannier instead
I now use a pannier bag on the rear rack of my bike. If you’re not sure what pannier bags are, they are the bags with special hooks on V onto a frame on the back of a bike.
Except when I exclusively used a cheap standard pannier bag with just the roll-top closure, I found it really annoying and not very practical for work.
Since then, I’ve gotten myself the Altura Morph pannier backpack, which is fantastic because not only do I not get a sweaty back, it also converts in seconds into a backpack that I can carry around just like any other bag.
You might also find that a more standard pannier can actually fit folded clothes, perhaps in a suit cover bag or similar, and can work for those of you with more formal dress codes.
Tip 5: Take a flannel with you
I didn’t want to put this as number one but it probably should be a top priority for any person who commutes to work by bike but does not have the luxury of a shower at the end of their ride.
Even though you don’t have a shower at work, you most certainly will have a sink to splash your face with a bit of water and freshen up.
This will help you to avoid going into the office dripping in sweat and the feel that bit calmer and more composed when you arrive.
Just make sure that you buy a couple of flannels because these get dirty quickly when you are sweating a lot (!!), and also get some kind of waterproof bag to carry them in.
Tip 6: Leave clothes at work
I’m aware that this may not be possible for all of you, but it is something that I’ve done in the past and I know other people who do it as well.
You can try leaving your clothes at work. If you are lucky enough to have a semi-casual dress code, you could probably get away with draping them over your chair.
If things are a little bit more formal, see if you can identify any discreet ways of hanging up your clothes on coat hangers near your desk so that they won’t get in anyone’s way or be unsightly.
You could, of course, try hanging clothes in a suit cover to keep them from being extremely visible or standing out to the naked eye.
Obviously, this might not be an option if you have a hot-desking arrangement, so I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what to suggest there!
Tip 7: Keep a Spare Pair of Socks in a Drawer (or somewhere discreet!)
If you find your feet get particularly hot and you need to change, keep a spare pair of socks in a drawer and keep them on rotation.
I don’t find my feet get too hot, but I use this especially for wet days, rather than sweaty days.
Either way, if I take a pair of socks home, I put another pair of socks straight into my bag that night so I know I’ve always got that backup pair in a drawer.
Socks are subtle enough and small enough so that you can keep them hidden and nobody will be any the wiser.
Tip 8: Stow work shoes under your desk to change into
If you need to change shoes, this should be an easy one in that you should be able to stay them under your desk quite discreetly without attracting much attention.
Remember that if you are not cycling in the shoes, it’s unlikely that they are going to give off a smell anyway!
If you are concerned about the smell, try getting yourself a boot bag, or what we used to call a tog bag (going back to school days of playing football in PE!), and still them in that so they have a special bag and they are are not giving off a stink!
Tip 9 [Trigger Warning]: Keep a can of ‘dry shower’ in your drawer
I must confess, I don’t have this and I haven’t tried it but lots of people online seem to be raving all about keeping a can of dry shower at the office after commuting by bike.
OK, it’s not exactly the same after your ride, but if you have no shower at work, having a can of dry shower handy should help to keep you that little bit fresher than doing nothing at all!
If this is most definitely not for you, try a simple can of deodorant. I only use the Salt of the Earth natural deodorant these days as it is an odourless anti-perspirant without the chemicals – highly recommended, especially if you get the large refill bottles to save on waste!
Tip 10: Don’t worry too much about What other people Think
Remember that people in the UK are particularly ‘indoctrinated’ into driving to work, so don’t let any snide remarks or fools get in the way of you cycling to work without a shower!
Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you go into work smelling like a teenage boy’s bedroom (know it well), but don’t avoid cycling to work simply because of a few funny looks.
You’ll thank yourself for it later!
Summary for Biking to Work With No Shower
Hopefully, you’ll now feel a little bit more confident about cycling to work without having shower facilities on site.
Perhaps you’ll only need one or two of the above points to help you get through those hot sweaty days but it still means more riding time, which can only be a good thing.