KEEPING COOL ON YOUR COMMUTE

Here are some tips to help you stay dry, fresh and cooler than the proverbial cucumber on your commute.

In the past, as a bicycle commuter in rainy London, my biggest challenge was keeping warm and dry! Now I live in South Africa, where summer commuter conditions are very different and I struggle to keep COOL! Although, the way I work up a sweat, keeping dry is often a problem too. With limited changing and showering facilities at many work places, staying cool and fresh for the whole day is a challenge. Thankfully, I discovered these savvy tricks to help stay dry, fresh and cooler than the proverbial cucumber:

JUST CHILL 😉

Ease off your normal pace a notch or two. It’s amazing what a difference spinning slower and using lighter gears will make to your heart-rate and overall effort. This directly translates to a lower body-temperature.

SKIP THE BACKPACK

You can arrive relatively fresh, only to remove your backpack or messenger bag to find an almighty wet patch out back….yeeuurrgh. Fit a rack, get some panniers, or if you have to have a backpack, consider a vented one that holds the carrying part of the bag away from your back. If you have to carry a regular backpack, placing a hydration pack filled with a couple of litres of chilled water inside will help keep you cool for a while at least.

HYDRATE

Even if you have a short commute, drink a nice cool glass of water before you leave. Make sure you take a bottle (BPA, toxin free or stainless steel) or hydration pack with you for longer commutes. You’ll feel fresher and recover faster from your ride if you’re hydrated. A 5% drop in hydration can affect concentration by as much as 30%, so staying hydrated helps concentration at work too!

NO SHOWER? NO STRESS

If you don’t have shower facilities at work you can still keep yourself fresh. Carry deodorant (the chemical-free kind) and some wet-wipes (yes, even you boys!) with you or leave some at work and use them to freshen up after your ride. Consider a small travel towel or evaporative cooling towel to help dry off on your arrival.

P.S. If you work in an office building, ask the maintenance staff if there is a shower you can use. You’d be surprised how many buildings have facilities no one knows about!

LESS IS MORE

For ladies, leave applying your make-up until you arrive at work. Wear light colors and choose fabrics that wick easily  (those that wick the sweat away from your skin and allow it to evaporate quickly) and keep your clothing loose, this includes vented shoes or sandals. Try wearing your dry-fit gym wear or a comfortable skirt or pair of shorts.

CARRY A SPARE

If you need to dress-up for the office, have a top or dress shirt rolled up in your bag to change into. Rolling it means fewer creases compared to folding it.

AVOID THE HEAT

Errr, that sounds a bit daft doesn’t it, but simply leaving a little earlier in the morning or later in the evening can make a few degrees difference, which translates to a whole lot less sweat

Photograph © Nate Bolt

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Owner , UBUNTU BIKES
Jamie owns and runs Ubuntu Bikes, a Cape Town based social enterprise which creates custom bicycles from vintage and retro bikes. He is a regular cycling commuter and rides track and road races in his spare time.
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Owner , UBUNTU BIKES
Jamie owns and runs Ubuntu Bikes, a Cape Town based social enterprise which creates custom bicycles from vintage and retro bikes. He is a regular cycling commuter and rides track and road races in his spare time.

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