Jul 012011

Sweaty Betty: The Blogspedition Looks for Answers to that Special Glow

Woman with her back to the camera. Written on her back: Sweat Not Oil with a picture of a bicycle.
Sweat, not oil. Or, as I like to think of it, calories per mile instead of miles per gallon.

“Horses sweat. Men perspire. Women glow.” – Silly antiquated etiquette guideline for language usage

Like hell we glow. Women sweat. Not necessarily at the level of people with hyperhidrosis, mind you, but put forth a little exertion to pedal up that hill and you might pop a bead or two, although research with a batch of cyclists shows that men start sweating sooner than women do during exercise (thank you, science!).

Dealing with sweat comes up pretty often when I talk with women about biking for transportation. It presents a barrier to more women biking because who wants to show up for work all messy and stinky?

My brief tips for dealing with sweat:

Don’t work so hard! Admittedly I have a short ride to work (just under 2.5 miles and it’s downhill at the beginning).

My bike ride to work includes some traffic time and if I sprint on a hot day I will heat up. So why sprint? Leave yourself enough time so you don’t have to pedal hard and heat up. If you have a steep hill in your way consider the bike-bus combo; let Spokane Transit do the hard part and you can coast down later.

Enjoy the breeze while you ride. After all, you make it yourself! And it provides a little air-drying effect.

Use baby wipes or better yet, Action Wipes from Martha Van Inwegen, whose tagline is, “Your face is not a baby’s butt. Don’t wipe it like one.”  (another business whose social mission fits well with mine).

Keep a few wipes in the drawer at work. When you get there you’ll want to fluff your hair in the mirror anyway (yes, a Blogspedition on helmet hair is coming soon!) so just take a wipe with you and dab away as needed.

Choose the right fabrics: Anything that requires a long time in the dryer or on the line will take a long time to dispose of your ladylike sweat droplets.

Keep a jacket or cardigan handy. My office is air-conditioned enough that I might wear one anyway. If it’s hot and you went sleeveless for the ride throw on a little cover-up while you dry.

And now for great tips from women’s bike blogs around the globe—be sure to read the comments, too, for more tips:

Cycling in a Heatwave… Making Friends with Florals: Lovely Bicycle points out that some fabric patterns show sweat, some hide it.

Sweat: Short and basic list of tips from the archives at Cycling in Heels (scroll down to the Feb. 22, 2008 entry)

Ride Slowly, Don’t Sweat: Title pretty much sums up the advice from Let’s Go Ride a Bike.

And if all else fails you can think to yourself, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. At least I don’t smell like a bike messenger!” as explained by thatmessengerchick in “Why do couriers smell so bad?

So who’s Sweaty Betty? That’s the name of a UK-based line of women’s sportswear retail stores I found while compiling my big list of women’s bike blogs. I love their vibe and their values match mine. Style + performance, feminine + sporty, sweaty + betty, bike + style.

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