On bike riding and sweatiness

Holy crap was it hot last weekend. As a person sans air conditioner, and with a slightly crazy side, I forced the boyfriend to help me clean the house (as was previously planned) leading to nearly dying from heat exhaustion. Fortunately for him, I sent him down to Foti’s after cleaning for some gyro goodness for dinner – there was just no way I was going to turn on the (now sparkling) stove on Saturday. So yes, we missed out on the Organic Brewfest at Overlook park, and besides a multi-store grocery and Laurelwood run on Sunday, we didn’t much leave the apartment (though I might have, had I read the Dave Knows suggestions).

I started bike commuting a few weeks ago with partial hopes that it would help me adapt to the rising temperatures, among other things. Since my ride in to downtown is mostly downhill, and the mornings are still cool, my cooldown time before entering cube-land is short, but on the way home, with the all-uphilledness of the region and hot patches of air, I’m sweating something fierce by the time I get home. As a convenience I sometimes stop by the Whole Foods/Wild Oats on Burnside to pick up groceries, and I’m a bit embarrassed by the being hot and having helmet hair while I’m walking through the store with my pant leg tucked into my sock. With a city such as this with a ton of bike commuters, I would assume that the employ would see plenty of people like me, but even with the pile of bikes out front (Dear Whole Foods, please get more bike parking, kthx), I didn’t see another person looking disheveled in the store.

I’m not an easily embarrassed person, but I’m wondering what the consensus is on this kind of situation: Do you hop into the store with your hair plastered down and mingle with the hipsters, or do you go home and cool down, then go back the mile and a half to the store while looking at least somewhat presentable?

6 Comments so far

  1. twilightfox on July 1st, 2008 @ 11:30 am

    I always stop at home before I venture to other locations. My ride is about 5 miles, mostly uphill on the way home. So I can sympathize for the intense levels of sweat that bike commuting creates. Right now I’ve developed a habit of getting home and getting out of my sweaty bike clothes as soon as possible. After about 15 min standing in front of a fan drinking cold water, I’ll brave getting back on my bike.

  2. anneo on July 1st, 2008 @ 11:35 am

    Are you kidding? Sweaty/helmet hair/pantleg is my natural state. And, this being Portland, I never feel out of place. Maybe you just hit a lull in bike/grocery traffic on that particular day? What’s more, I think it’s great to get all the running-around out of the way, and then going home to chill with no more errands on my list.

  3. brett on July 1st, 2008 @ 12:44 pm

    I like to do all the errands at once. When I’m sweaty, I just head first to the restroom for a good splash or six of water on face and head. Make sure they have paper towels and not just those blowers; you should always have a bandanna or even a handtowel with you. If there’s no restroom nearby (unlikely), you can carry those little packs of baby wipes for a quick pass over face, neck and if necessary pits.

    Another thing we can all do is just slow down! I know we’re all accustomed to thinking we have to get there as fast as possible, but except on the very hottest days, I’ve found that if I just maintain a relaxed cruising pace, I may get there five minutes later, but I’ll be much less sweaty and feel a lot more relaxed. It’s worth it to leave five or ten minutes earlier to make the ride more pleasant.

    Anyway, congrats to you for taking the big step and bike commuting. This is common in many European cities but just catching on here. You’re doing the planet and your fellow Portlanders a big favor by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, unclogging the streets, etc. And boosting your health, too.

  4. chris on July 1st, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

    As long as you don’t come to the local pub/grocery/diner/etc _reeking_ of sweat I don’t care if you have helmet hair and chain grease all over your leg.

    I’m just sayin.. there are some smelly smelly portlanders out there, but please, don’t wash in the Tabor reservoirs. That water is for drinking.

  5. bryawn on July 2nd, 2008 @ 10:42 am

    The only reason for anyone to give you a hard time is because you are making them feel guilty for a) not exercising and b) driving around in their gas guzzlers.

    As such, your healthy attitude gives them such a complex they might pretend to be offended by something as benign as a little sweat. Fortunately, this is Portland and the percentage of fit people is somewhat higher then other places, so you don’t have much to worry about.

    Seriously though, in a grocery store, who cares what you look like? It’s not like you’re going to a dinner party with people you might see again.

  6. Erica (erica) on July 3rd, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

    Wipe off the dripping sweat and shop away.

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