Summer Bike Commuting Tips
Summers can be challenging for bike commuting, but don’t let the heat ruin your bike commute!
If your office does have a gym – either in the building or somewhere nearby – I’d highly recommend looking into a month-to-month membership over the summer. Some gyms even offer “shower memberships” for folks who like to exercise outside but need a place to shower and change for work.
Back when I was bike commuting I had to ditch my gym membership to save some cash, and as summer approached I was afraid it would mean the end of riding into work. Atlanta can serve up a doozy of a summer, and even the morning temperatures here can get up into the 90s in the thick of it. During the two summers that I was biking to work with no shower access, I learned a few simple tricks that helped me transform from sweaty cyclist to office casual on even the hottest days.
Since you’re probably going to sweat a lot more, it’s best to wear light clothes while you’re riding and change into your work clothes when you get to the office.
If you’re not cleaning up at a gym, you’re going to have to walk in wearing your bike clothes, and beeline to the bathroom. I’ll be honest: this felt a little bit weird at first. After a while, though, my coworkers got used to seeing me walk in with my bike gear.
In fact, after a while coworkers got so curious about bike commuting that they would come and ask me questions about cycling and about bike commuting. It became a great chance to educate folks about the joys of bike commuting who might never have considered it before!
Once you get to work, you’ll need to get ready for your day. Check out the simple DIY sink bathing kit on the next page!
Make a Sink Bathing Kit
Packing the right toiletries is crucial when you’re bike commuting. Here’s what I carried in my sink bathing kit:
- 2 wash cloths – one for soaping, one for wiping the soap away
- Soap – If you aren’t OK using the hand soap in the bathroom, pack your own in a small container. I like Dr. Bronner’s liquid tea tree soap, because the tea tree is cooling.
- Body spray – This spray was a lifesaver, and I’ll share the recipe below. The alcohol helps your body cool, and the essential oils help you smell better!
Use the wash cloths and soap to clean your face, pits, and anywhere else that you’re feeling particularly grimy. Remember, one wash cloth is for soap and the other is for water. You don’t want to walk around all day with soap residue on your skin. It’s not comfortable.
After you wash, put on deodorant and spritz your neck and pits with the body spray (recipe below).
Post-Cycling Body Spray Recipe
In a 1 ounce spray bottle, add 10-15 drops of lavender and tea tree essential oils. Top the bottle off with rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol. Spray on liberally after your ride.
The right gear can also make your summer bike commute a lot more pleasant. Check out my summer gear list on the next page!
Summer Bike Commuting Gear List
You’ll find a lot of these items helpful year-round, but when you’re bike commuting in the summer you’ll be especially grateful for this gear.
- Commuter Pack – A backpack or messenger bag is fine in cooler weather, but having something strapped to your body on a hot day makes you sweat more. Invest in a commuter pack or saddle bags to carry your necessities.
- Moisture-Wicking Clothing – Not only will moisture-wicking material make you more comfortable on your ride, but since it works by drawing the sweat away from your skin, you’ll be less sweaty when you get to work.
- Sweatband or Rag – Your bike helmet is basically a sweat factory in hot weather, and you’ll want something to keep the sweat out of your eyes or to wipe it away. When I bike commuted I had a pouch that strapped to my handlebars in addition to the commuter pack on the back of my bike. This is a perfect place to stash a rag for wiping your sweaty face. You can put that body spray that I talked about on the previous page in here, too, and spritz it on your neck to cool you down a little when you hit a stop light.
- Second Water Bottle - You need more fluids when it’s hot, so pack a second water bottle – you can even add a second bottle mount to your bike frame to make it easy to access. Instead of filling it with mostly water, fill the whole thing with ice cubes and add just enough water to finish filling. When your first bottle is done, you’ll have icy cold water to keep you cool from the inside out.
Of course, you’ll still need your standard commuting gear, like your helmet, a poncho in case it rains, and a small tire repair kit in case you get a flat.
Do any of you bike commute during the hot summer months? I’d love to hear how you stay cool!