Biking to Work (and why most don’t)

For the past two years I have biked to work in the Spring and Summer. I don’t do this every day, in fact, in a typical week I only ride my bike to the office a couple times. The two biggest reasons that I don’t ride on any given day are client meetings and my motorcycle. I’ve often thought that I should let go of one of my two-wheeled past-times, but haven’t been able to do so.

People are always interested when they hear that I ride my bike to work. Without fail, 90+% of people also follow that up by saying “I’d love to ride to work, but there aren’t showers at my office.” Neither do I. And guess what? I’m probably the most disgustingly sweat-prone person I know. I’m also a bit of a clean freak that takes multiple showers a day. If I can do it, anyone can. In fact, my wife realized that she had no excuse herself and sold her scooter and has been riding in to work almost every day this season.

Granted, I don’t have a 30 mile commute. But I still get to the office on most mornings dripping with sweat. In order to make myself presentable I have a collection of items that I keep in a drawer. I wear cool, quick-drying clothes (under armour, etc), and bring a change of clothes. If I really wanted to be efficient, I could just keep a change of clothes at the office rather than bringing stuff with me every time I ride.

Showering in the morning is probably the most important part. Some people are tempted to hop on their bike because it seems silly to shower right before getting sweaty. However, showering before you leave for work will make clean-up at the office significantly more effective. Once I get in, I rehydrate and sit in front of my fan for five minutes to start cooling down. Then I lock myself away in the handicap bathroom and clean up. I use very damp paper towels first, then wet ones, and I also use sensitive skin cleaners for my face. I hand wash my shorts, spandex, and sometimes the shirt I wore right in the sink. I also keep anti-perspirant and some hair product at work. I have a bottle of sports deodorizer that I spray on my clothes and shoes. Back at my desk, I put my desk fan on the floor and drape my wet clothes over it until they’re dry.

Keeping some extra basics at the office (underwear, socks, shoes, etc) minimizes the amount of stuff I need to bring with me in the mornings. All in all, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good system that works for me. Would an on-site shower make everything easier? Absolutely. But I’m a sincere believe that some people will always have an excuse. There is always a reason not to ride to work, to skip a lift, to sit on the couch, or take a weekend off. As much as I can, I try not to let excuses get in the way of things I think I should be doing. As Dan John says, “if it’s worth doing, do it every day.” If something isn’t worth doing, I don’t stress about it. If it is worth doing, I’m not going to let inconveniences get in the way.

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