Dealing With The Heat

Summer is rapidly approaching in many parts of the world, but it’s already made its appearance here in Florida. We’ve had summer-like temperatures for well over a month now, and with the recent tropical storm that passed through, humidity levels are ranging from 50% to 80%. That’s sticky!

How does a commuter combat the ravages of heat and humidity? Before I begin — know this: you cannot win against hot, humid conditions. A commuter can only hope to avoid the worst of the effects and come out only slightly withered.

First, and most importantly, hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after a ride, no matter how short. Include sports drinks with electrolytes if you are a heavy sweat-producer.

Second, consider a change of clothes. Some commuters can get away with casual clothing at work, but for those of us who may need to have a more professional appearance, wearing a t-shirt or jersey and shorts and changing when getting to work is the only recourse. A pressed shirt and tie don’t look professional if there are huge sweatstains under your arms and on your back!! If you have to carry a change of clothes, consider panniers rather than a backpack or messenger bag and your back won’t get as sweaty.

Third, have your backup deodorant ready at work. Keep it in your desk and swab that stuff on liberally. Remember, your coworkers already think you’re crazy for riding; the last thing they need is to get a whiff of your sweaty, post-ride nastiness.

Fourth, try powdering “your boys” (or “girls”, as the case may be) before and possibly after your ride. Things tend to stick together less with a liberal coating of baby powder or cornstarch, if you get my drift…

Finally, give yourself some extra time to get to work — get there a few minutes early and find an out of the way place to “chill” for a few minutes before you have to get changed into your working duds.

It’s hot out there, kids — take care, try these tips and with a little luck, you’ll arrive in style. Your coworkers might never even know you rode to work!


  1. Logan

    I also carry the pre-moistened face cloths that can be found in any drugstore. Not very manly or eco-concious I know, but they do the trick better than wet paper-towels.

  2. RL Policar

    Great tips! I’ve heard of those Floridian Summers…brutal.

  3. Ghost Rider

    I’ve become quite the expert on summers in Florida — imagine working outside year-round here in professional clothing (no tie but nice shirt and pants required) AND driving 250-300 miles a day in an un-air-conditioned truck. Now do that for almost 8 years!

    The above was me in a previous career…I must have drank 2 gallons of water a day and I would still wind up dehydrated.

  4. RL Policar

    Dang, were you a truck driver or something?

  5. db

    I keep a sport towel (one of those small cellulose things that backpackers use) and a washcloth at work to clean up after a sweaty ride. I did the wipes for awhile, but was disheartened by how many I was using and discarding.

    In my cubicle, I rigged a piece of nylon “parachute cord” (another backpacking staple) under my desk as a hidden drying line for the towel and washcloth. No one here knows that I have bath items and cycling clothes drying under my desk.

    Oh, and since if I have a little desk fan, I put it on the floor and let it run for an hour or two until the items are dry, and then I stash them in one of my file cabinet drawers.

  6. Ghost Rider

    Florida state health inspector…most of my job consisted of watching rednecks operate backhoes and dumptrucks as they installed septic tanks. I tell ya, the wilds of northern Florida are pretty backward.

    The rest of the story is even more un-glamorous — heading the rabies and West Nile Virus surveillance programs for my assigned county (which meant handling a LOT of dead animals) and doing trailer park inspections. Ugh. The things I’ve seen! I’ve got disgusting stories that would curl the hair of the most rugged humans out there…

  7. Adrienne

    In the Phoenix metro area it is definitely hot right now — 114 at the moment, which is about 4 pm on the 4th of July. I, too, bring a washcloth and let it dry discreetly on a hook underneath my desk. The sweaty t shirt had been drying on a hanger in my cubicle, but I like the hidden clothesline idea much better; thanks!

    Also, since my trip is a bi-modal one, I mix up the bike parts and the bus parts. In the morning, while the temperature is still in the double digits, I ride three miles south to the bus line that lets me out in front of my work, and cool off on the (usually) air conditioned bus. On the trip home I ride about a mile, pick up a different bus that lets me off about 1 1/2 miles from my house, and then ride that last bit as the sun is setting.

    As for hydration, anyone new to the desert needs to be VERY AWARE that since the humidity is so low, sweat dries so fast you may not be aware you are sweating until it’s much too late. Around here, even among the non-athletic, water bottles are everywhere.

    Riding longer segments is being strictly saved for cooler weather.

  8. Pingback: Just Ask Jack — Arriving Sweat-free?

  9. Pingback: bike commuting in the heat | Bike Commuters

  10. Elizabeth

    I just read this article from the link in the recent summary, and the idea of rigging a hook or clothesline under the desk is brilliant! I’ve been feeling bad about all the paper towels I use to clean myself up with when I get to work. I’m going to go hunt for a magnetic hook this weekend.

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