It’s looking to be a crazy hot summer here in Portland. For bike commuters, that means finding ways to cool down – both to stay comfortable on the ride, and to avoid looking like a drowned cat when you show up at the office.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to stay cool on your commute.
Take your time
If you can, leave ten minutes early so you’re not in a rush getting to work. That will let you take a slower pace so you won’t be drenched in sweat by the time you get there.
It also helps to build in some cool-down time at the end of your commute to freshen up in the bathroom. Your coworkers will definitely thank you!
Drink plenty of water
During the hot, dry summers you need to drink twice as much water in order to stay hydrated. Even if you’re on an eBike you’ll still be getting a good workout, so pack a second water bottle and be sure to take a swig every time you stop at a light, or get to the top of a hill.
Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you’re thirsty by the time you start your bike commute, you’re already close to getting dehydrated.
Stick to the shade
If your main commute route is exposed to the sun, think about finding a parallel side street that may be a bit shadier. Tall trees and buildings can block out the worst of the sun, leaving you a bit more refreshed. Even if it adds a mile or so to your commute, you’ll be happy to have the shade, and if you’re on an eBike you’ll barely notice the added distance.
Plus, it’s always fun to explore a new route!
Freshen up at work
Keep a kit in your desk with deodorant and other toiletries if your office doesn’t have a shower facility for commuters. Pack towels meant for camping are great for mopping up sweat – they pack light and are super absorbent.
Baby wipes or facial wipes (available near the face wash section) are a great way to freshen up once you get to the office. Or, pick up a package of ActionWipes, which are specially formulated for athletes. If you’re the makeup-wearing type, wait to put it on until you’ve gotten to the office.
Dress the part
You’ll definitely benefit from wearing specialty synthetic fabrics designed for hot weather exercise, but beware that some blends can start to smell really terrible. An ultra lightweight merino wool tee is a great way to go, since it will wick away sweat without starting to smell. You may also want to invest in some moisture-wicking socks and a well-vented helmet to keep yourself cool.
Take a load off your back and avoid “sweaty back syndrome” with a pair of nice panniers. It’ll help keep you cool, and also reduce back strain. A good set can carry your laptop, change of clothes, lunch, and everything else you might need. You might even consider buying a pannier that’s designed to look business-like for any lunch meetings you need to bike to.
Ride an electric bike
You didn’t think we’d forget this fantastic tip, did you? Riding an eBike gets you farther, faster – and with less effort! That means less time spent in the sun and the heat, less energy expended to go up the hills, and it’s fun to boot.