Can we talk perspiration? Or, as a friend of mine from the South used to call it “glow.” Sweating is often cited by women as a barrier to riding a bicycle for transportation. You may have seen the gender gap article in the New York Times last week that cited appearance issues in this fashion-obsessed town right behind safety as key barriers to attracting more women to the bike lanes.
I wish articles like that would include interviews with cyclists who ride happily in all kinds of weather. Maybe it would help encourage more women to explore the everyday pleasures of city cycling.
As temperatures in New York City reached into the 90s this week, I thought I’d share some of my own simple strategies for coping with perspiration when biking in hot weather:
- Be prepared – Traveling anywhere in New York City requires planning, no matter what the mode of transportation. So, I pick clothing both for comfort on the ride and to look put-together at my destination. In the heat, that sometimes means folding a fresh blouse or a T-shirt (or two) into a plastic bag that I tuck into my tote.
- Strip down – If I don’t have to “dress” for work, then I choose a light-colored top with thin straps worn with a skirt or shorts, and sandals or canvas sneakers for my ride. If I’m going to a meeting, I fold my suit jacket into my basket, wear the lightest possible top with a skirt or pants, then change into a fresh shirt at my destination. I don’t bother with swapping shoes: my mid-height heels are fine on a bike.
- Slow up – When it’s hot, I allow extra time for my ride. Pedaling more slowly not only cuts down on perspiring, but also feels more relaxed.
- Skip the shoulder bag – Messenger bags and backpacks make my back sweat, so I never carry them in hot weather. Ditto wide belts; I put them on after I get off the bike. I carry a regular purse and lightweight tote in my bike basket.
- The ladies room is your locker room – Fortunate are the few who can count on a shower at their destinations. That’s usually not an option, so I head straight to the ladies room. I use a paper towel and cool water or moist towelettes to freshen up in a stall before changing my top.
- Hold off on applying makeup - If it’s really hot and I have a professional or social commitment, I wear sunglasses and lipstick on my ride and wait until reaching my destination to apply makeup.
- Pack helmet-hair fixes – In addition to carrying cosmetics and perfume, I keep some hair accessories and a small bottle of a frizz-fighting smoother in my bag. If it’s a casual day, I clip a straw fedora to my bag to wear after I take off my helmet.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – Dehydration is a real threat when you’re active in hot weather. I carry a water bottle in my basket and refill it often.
What are your personal strategies for staying fresh and comfortable on your summer ride? Please share your comments for an additional post on this topic!