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Beauty and the bike: Sweat free cycling

Perspiration. It’s not always pretty!

~ by Adele Mitchell.

Working up a sweat on your bike is a good thing. Indeed, some rightly see it as a badge of honour – you just don’t want it to hang around for too long. Fear not, for help is at hand. Thankfully there is a vast array of ways to stay fresh.

Working up a sweat = good. Image by falling bullets via Flickr.

Here’s a little musing. I’m no stranger to being overtaken by other cyclists. One of the more unexpected results of this is that, once downwind, I’m often hit by a waft of their body odour. Washing powder is the most prevalent smell – it seems to be released by body heat.

A male roadie who had clearly doused himself in very expensive aftershave passed me recently, which made me wish all men would pay as much attention to pre-ride grooming.

Potions and lotions

I know Rapha Embrocation – loaded with essential oils from aromatic plants and herbs – packs a fragrant punch, because a friend I was riding with commented on how nice all the hedgerows were smelling when I wore it (had to own up that it  was me who was perfuming the air!).

Whatever you leave in your wake, you don’t want it to smell of sweat.

Your first line of defence is a good deodorant. I like Kiehl’s Cross Terrain Anti-perspirant Deodorant Stick £14 75ml – it’s designed for men but has a really subtle, ‘outdoors’ fragrance.

If excess sweating is a problem that goes beyond the limits of your normal deodorant then take a look at the products on Boots’ ‘Problem Perspiration’ page – it’s packed with affordable options to keep you dry.

Total Women’s Cycling editor, and long distance cyclist, Kirsty, swears by the Sportique Foot Powder & Body Deodorant range with 100% natural botanical and herbal ingredients. The foot powder works quickly to absorb any perspiration, helping to keep your tootsies fresh.

Clothing

Every layer of clothing can also help. Breathable fabrics are not only comfortable to wear, but they also wick away moisture so there’s no chance of smelling as if you’ve been riding for a week (unless you have, of course).

Merino – which is naturally odour resistant and breathable – is a sweat wicking miracle worker. I wear both Icebreaker and Vulpine from VeloVixen for riding and they are ultra comfortable.

Technical sport fabrics are also designed to do the trick and all the top brands design with staying cool in mind. For summer, a lightweight, polyester summer base layer, like the Craft Ladies Cool Mesh Superlight, will be effective in moving moisture away from the skin.

Craft have created a super light base layer to help keep you cool in the hottest of conditions.

Whichever you choose, it’s important that it fits snugly if it’s going to work and merino is a bit more forgiving to the figure and can be worn loose.

Breathable socks, such as the Luna pair from Castelli, are quick drying and lightweight to wear. For more intimate areas, don’t forget that one of the functions of a cycling chamois pad is to absorb sweat. The best chamois’ are anti-bacterial and wicking, which is why you shouldn’t wear them with pants.

Even your bra has a part to play – a good sports bra will wick away moisture as well as offering support and comfort. I wear the Stamina Sports Bra from Sweaty Betty.

So, it’s over to you… Does the peloton do anything to avoid your slipstream? Do other commuters give you a wide berth at the traffic lights? Do squirrels peg their little furry noses when you pedal past on your mountain bike?

Or do you ride along in a perfumed cloud of pleasantness, at one with the world of wicking?

Tell us your top tips for staying dry and fresh!

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