The shower at my workplace has recently been deep cleaned. I’m not suggesting that this has never happened before, but it was enough of a novelty that Facilities put up signs weeks before the event, alerting us to its imminent occurrence and asking us to remove any belongings.
I haven’t ventured into the shower room for literally years, so I have no belongings to retrieve. It was the mass of other people’s stuff that put me off – smelly, unwashed towels and festering t-shirts hanging from every available corner. I’m sure I once saw a pair of underpants in there.
It wasn’t a shower room you’d ever want to have a shower in, so I didn’t.
For some people, not being able to have a shower once they get to work is a deal-breaker when it comes to commuting by bike. Yet despite the lack of a useable shower, I’m one of a number of regular cyclists in my office. As we’ve shown, it is possible to cycle to work and still look (and smell!) presentable all day even without a shower. How? Here are a few ideas.
Bring a change of clothes
I’ve never found the lack of a shower a particular problem – I just bring a change of clothes with me, and get changed when I get to work. Clearly my colleagues – both my fellow cyclists and the ones who have to sit near me all day long – don’t think it’s a problem either, as I’ve never had any complaints from them.
The dress code where I work is fairly casual so it doesn’t matter if my clothes get a little creased on the way in. But if your job means you have to dress smartly, you could always do what a former colleague of mine did. He worked in corporate fundraising – basically his job was persuading big businesses to give the charity money – so he had to look smart. His solution? Keep a selection of suits and shirts in the office, rather than bringing them in every day.
Wet wipes, baby wipes, any kind of wipes…
If it’s been a particularly sweaty ride – if it’s been one of those rare sunny days – then I’ll have a wipe down with some wet wipes when I get in. That, the clean clothes and a splash of deodorant is usually enough for me.
Use panniers, not a rucksack
I wouldn’t quite go as far as to say that switching from a backpack to panniers revolutionised my life – but it’s not far off the mark.
Sweaty back syndrome used to be a daily fact of life for me. Even in the dead of winter and even on the shortest rides. On a warm summer’s day I would arrive at work with the entire back of my t-shirt soaked through. It wasn’t pleasant.
And then I discovered panniers. These days I still sweat, but nowhere near as much as I used to.
The other advantage of panniers is that, if you invest in some good quality waterproof ones, they’ll also keep your stuff fresh and dry even in the pouring rain.
I have to admit I haven’t quite mastered this one yet – I’m far too impatient – but my colleague Kate has.
Kate cycles about as far as I do every day, yet manages not to be a sweaty mess when she arrives at work. Her secret? She rides at a much more leisurely pace than I do. I know this for a fact, as I often overtake her en route.
Such is Kate’s lack of sweatiness, she can cycle in the same clothes she then wears all day, without being smelly. This I can also vouch for, as I sit next to her.
First published on London Cyclist