Friday, August 2, 2013

Yes, I sweat when I ride to work. But it doesn't last long. And the ride is worth it.

Of course I sweat when I ride to work: it's summer in St. Louis, Missouri. But this summer has been much cooler than average, so I've actually had the opportunity to ride in some upper-60s/lower-70s temps, as well as testing the 80s and 90s I expected this month. 

The unofficial rule list I've cultivated for commuting this summer seems to be:

  1. Anticipated daily high no higher than 90°F.
  2. No thunderstorms in the forecast between 7:30-9:30am or 4:30-6:30pm.
  3. No heavy rain in the forecast for the same timeframe.
  4. Get out the door by 8:00am.
Honestly? This last one is the hardest. I have a hard time getting moving in the morning, and making sure I am ready to hop on the bike instead of into the car is one more excuse to keep me from going. Will this shirt work? What about this skirt? These pants? Which helmet? Oh, I need my gloves. Wait, I forgot something else...I make riding to work a bigger deal in my head than it is and, frankly? the ride gets easier every single time I do it. After a nearly 20-mile bike ride for fun this past Saturday (returning in a strong headwind; something I don't have to deal with, really, on my commute, due to the neighborhood streets I frequent), today's 6.5-mile jaunt felt borderline leisurely

That said, the trail I ride on has no meaningful hills except for a few rolling streets in the 2-mile ride to/from the trail-head. 

That said, there are a few points in my commute route where I'm a-huffing and a-puffing. I cannot reach the top without breaking a sweat, no matter the gear I'm in, and I suspect, no matter the outside temp. In some cases, I could be standing on the bike, pedaling my heart out, and it's still a solid minute or more of continued exertion. 

So, I glow buckets.

The thing about riding is that you have a lovely breeze on you as long as you're moving. And then you stop, and your face starts to get red, and the sweat really starts to pour, and you're just bloody hot for about 10-15 minutes. If I'm someplace where I plan to lock up my bike outside, this is a great reason to take my time locking up the bike. This is also a great reason to get where you're going 20 minutes before you need to look presentable. Because really, that's all it takes. If you're staying somewhere hot, outside, everyone else will be sweating anyway. If you're going in side, chances are the a/c is set to "arctic" and you'll cool down faster than you expect. When I arrived at the office Wednesday, I had maintained a slow-enough pace and kept well-enough hydrated that I wasn't too red-faced, but I was sweaty and my hair was pretty wet underneath (at the nape of my neck). But this is what I looked like just 10 minutes after I arrived at my office:

I still *felt* warm, but really, I looked fine. I even biked in the clothes I was wearing, and didn't need to change my top at all. So if you're just starting, in the summer, like me, then YES it's hot, but it gets better, and really, you look better than you think you do...or will in about ten minutes.  And no, I didn't touch up my make-up or anything - this is whatever was left from what I put on in the morning (my normal mineral foundation, powder blush, lip balm, and mascara).

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