Commuting 101: Clean and Pressed

Our Commuting 101 series keeps plugging along. You've chosen a new bike, procured the gear you need, and found the best way for you to dress for your ride.  Now, it's time for us to get cleaned up and ready for the day.

One of the top reasons we hear for people not wanting to ride their bikes to work is cleanliness.  America has a war on smells going on, as you may have noticed.  People buy aromatic oils for their homes, masses of deodorants, colognes, and perfumes, and avoid doing things physical unless they can take a shower immediately afterward.

Whether it's silly or not, it's a fact.  So when we ride to work, one of our concerns is how we appear and smell once we get there.  No one wants to be a sweaty mess in the office.  So today's topic is how to look and feel fresh at your work once you're there.

Your options aren't as limited as you might think they are, actually.  The best option is to work at a place that actually has showers and lockers and the like at the office so you can get cleaned up.  This option is getting more and more attractive as government gives companies incentives to build such stuff.  But it's still pretty rare.  But ask around - especially among the people who work for the building you work in. Janitors and maintenance staff know more about the building than most and may know that there is indeed a shower that hardly anyone uses!

Another option, though, may be closer than you think.  Is there a health club near your job?  Many health clubs these days have shower and locker service only for a reduced fee.  You can ride to the health club, get cleaned up and cooled down, and then make your way to the office feeling fresh and ready for the day.  Ask around at the health clubs near your office.

Now, there are plenty of us who don't have either of the above two options.  There's no shower or lockers, and your office is out in an industrial park with no health club nearby.  So now it's time for option three:  cleaning yourself at the office.

There are a number of great products that can make this cleanup process easier.  One of them is ActionWipes.  Originally created for action athletes to get cleaned up after their ride/hike/what have you, the commuters have adopted this item for its great smell and economical size.  They're similar to a baby wipe, but as their logo states, "your face is not a baby's butt. Don't wipe it like one."  They're larger and their ingredients are natural and very pleasing to the senses.  One wipe can pretty much take care of your whole body.  There are other similar products as well - a Google search for "bath wipes" will show you some of these.

Combine these wipes with a brush and a stick of deodorant and you'll be good to go for the day.
One thing that having some Action Wipes or other product available won't do, though, is cool you down.  A small fan for your desk is inexpensive and can be easily found at many stores - groceries, big box stores, drug stores, etc.  Just switch it on for a few minutes when you sit down and you'll be cool and dry.

But what about clothes?  Let's say you have a long commute, or you're just a person who perspires more than others.  You may not want to wear your work clothes on your commute.  What do you do then?

There are a couple of options. Last week, we talked about getting a rear rack for your bike with panniers.  There are actually panniers that are big enough to hold a pair of chinos or dress pants, a shirt, and shoes.  The suggestion to keep your clothes nicely pressed and un-wrinkled is to roll them instead of folding them.

If you wear a suit, there are actually panniers that are a combination of garment bag and pannier.  You can carry your suit on the back of your bike and keep it clean, dry, and pressed the whole way.

Another option, if you don't ride to work every day, is to bring your clothes for the week and leave them at work on a day when you drive or ride the bus.  Then, when you come in every day, your clothes are waiting for you when you get there.  If you do bring your clothes with you each day, it's still advisable to have one set of "back-up"clothes at work just in case something happens on the way in to the job.

So how do you keep yourself fresh and clean after your ride to work?  And are there any other topics about commuter cycling you'd like to have covered?  Tell us in the comments below!
People, not speed.