The Cheap Athlete’s Guide to Bike Commuting in Hot Weather

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Mmm, swampy.

Bike commuting in hot weather can suck just as much as the cold weather. Great, 6 months of sucky commuting weather!

Nothing feels more un-refreshing than pedaling into a nice, hot headwind while pumping those legs in heavy work pants and an oxford shirt. That’s a recipe for swamp city down under.

But does mean that we should wuss out and not bike commute? Heck no! We just need to make a few adjustments.

Adjustments which, of course, don’t cost us a lot of money either.

Understand that you’re going to sweat

I’m not only the president of the sweaty beast club, I’m also a client. I sweat while biking in cold weather; I sweat brushing my teeth; I’m probably sweating a little writing this post.

Yup. Confirmed.

Sweating is your body’s natural cooling mechanism and is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m so embarrassed that my body is working exactly as designed while I’m burning calories outside in the heat! I just consider myself to be an industrial strength, human air conditioner.

When it’s a New York City swamp fest and you’re riding a bike in 1 billion percent humidity around a bunch of cars then sweating is inevitable. If you don’t get a little damp in that scenario then you may be dying from dehydration. Or you’re a freak of nature.

Part of bike commuting in the summer is understanding that you’re gonna have some level of funk once you get to the office. So just skip over the DABD (denial, anger, bargaining, depression) part and move right on to acceptance. Live with it.

And who cares? You’re saving a butt ton of money from bike commuting. So what if you’re a little sweaty when you get to the office? So is everyone else who is schlepping through the subway and at least you get to avoid that nasty, stale urine smell!

Drink water

Obviously. If you need to read a blog about the importance of drinking water while working out in the heat then, well, I’m a bit concerned.

Summer is hot. Hotness makes you sweat and you need to make sure that you’re hydrated. If you have a longer bike commute then bring a bottle or two along with you. You may even want to consider some electrolytes (Nuun or Garorate) for them extra-special, blazing days .

Next topic.

Bike slower

For those who commute in work clothes and don’t have the luxury of a free shower at the office then the best advice that I can give is to bike slower. Like, all the way slower.

Some days I’m riding about 6 miles per hour, weaving in and out of shaded areas to keep my sweat level at an acceptable level. Sure, it takes longer but it’s better than showing up completely soaked and being known as the smelly dude at work. Plus, like I’ve said before, I aint in no rush to get to the office.

For those who are riding for exercise instead of the pootling to the office that I do, please remember that heat has a negative impact on performance. If you’re cranking away at 20 mph on a cool, spring day then expect to ride at 17-18 mph or slower when it’s over 80 degrees out. Please, pay attention to your pulse and slow down if you find yourself redlining. We wanna be cheap athletes, not dead athletes.

Biking slower also gives you time to appreciate what biking is all about. Yea, going fast is hella fun but going slow is a different kind of fun. Look around and appreciate the trees and chipmunks or watch the boats float down the Hudson. Enjoy being outside or think of your next blog post. It’s a great opportunity to just appreciate life.

Wear different clothes

Even if you’re only riding 2-3 miles to work, wearing a wicking t-shirt and mesh shorts can do wonders for you. You’ll be way cooler and can change into your sweat-free work clothes in the office bathroom! So dignified.

You don’t need to get all crazy and wear spandex bike shorts and a yellow cycling jersey. In fact, please don’t. For longer rides go ahead and wear a cycling kit. But still, no yellow or polka dot jerseys unless you earned them at the Tour.

Throwing a little baby powder in your shorts helps a bit. It aint stopping the sweating, that’s for sure, but for those not in the sweaty beast club it may help keep you drier. And it only costs about 88 cents so is definitely worth the try.


But how am I gonna transport my work clothes?

Two words: wrinkle releaser.

Actually, three words: HOMEMADE wrinkle releaser.

I’ve been using wrinkle releaser instead of dry cleaning for longer than I can remember. At $7.00 a bottle, that’s way the heck cheaper than dry cleaning.

But $7.00 a bottle for what? Look at the ingredients: fiber relaxers (fabric softener), water, perfume and “quality control agents.” Throw out the last two because perfume is unnecessary and “quality control agents” are baloney. You’re left with water and fabric softener.

Downy charges $7.00 for the bottle of wrinkle releaser on the right and about $4 for the bottle of fabric softener on the left.

To make your own wrinkle releaser, take about a tablespoon or so of fabric softener and fill the rest of the bottle (I reuse the old wrinkle releaser bottle on the right – I paid 7 bucks for it!) with water. That’s it! That big ole $4 bottle should last you all the way until you achieve financial independence.

How’s that for some frugal chops?

Anyhoo, I stuff my work clothes in my backpack and keep a small bottle of my homemade concoction at my desk. I simply spray my wrinkly, backpack clothes when I get to the office and that’s it!

Is it as good as having a freshly pressed shirt from the dry cleaner?


Am I a frumpy mess?

Also no.

Am I saving a butt ton of money?


Freshen up at the office

If you get a free shower at work, then lucky you. Use it and get all tidy.

The gym at my work costs money so, naturally, I aint paying for it. Instead I head straight for the bathroom to throw on a fresh coat of deodorant, clean my face and change into my work clothes.

That’s about it. More deodorant goes a long way.

For those extra-sweaty, I-got-a-very-important-meeting kind of days, I find camping body wipes to do an admirable job at removing quite a bit of funkiness.

And, well, that’s all. Happy sweating!




  1. Thanks for the inspiration to get back on the bicycle. It’s been so muggy here that I’ve made too many excuses to stay off it, but once I get in the seat I am always glad to be there!

  2. The taking it slower is definitely a good one. It might even be a tradeoff for the shower time! Actually, and no this is not cheap, an electric bike might help. Especially if time is a constraint. Still cycling fast, but less transpiration.

    1. Yea those electric bikes are cool. I see people zipping all around the city in them. Not cheap though but they still pay themselves off quite quickly.

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