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Home » Cycling » (sniff…sniff). How to Be a Cyclist and NOT Stink in the Process…

(sniff…sniff). How to Be a Cyclist and NOT Stink in the Process…

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If you’re not sweating buckets when you ride your bike, you’re either on a recovery ride (if so, kudos to you) or you’re not riding fast enough.  Being fast takes effort.  If you do it right, a lot of effort.

Unfortunately being a cyclist, at least a fast one, makes one stink.  Bad.

There are a few tricks of the trade though, and I’m here to help:

First things first is the melon protector.  Sweating in the dome cover is inevitable, as Agent Smith told Morpheus.  Well, maybe Smith wasn’t talking about cycling but you never know.  That sweat, left to fester unchallenged will do some gnarly things to one’s smelling holes once you place that festered brain bucket in its place to ride.  To combat this, while you’re in the shower, lather up your helmet, rinse it and towel it dry (and the little foam pads).  Funk eliminated.  Some people can get away with only washing the cranium cover once or twice a week, I wash mine after every ride.

Second.  Wear deodorant.  You don’t have to smell like a French whore when you go out for a ride (wait, that cuts both ways…Touché).

Third, and most important of any hygiene tips:  Throw that godforsaken unsented laundry detergent in the garbage can – or save it for your street clothes.  My wife, God bless her, went through a ten-year-long “unsented detergent phase”.  Unfortunately that meant my cycling clothing smelled like sweaty ass and balls within a few weeks.  Folks, sweaty ass is bad enough but throw in the meatballs and it gets gnarly in a hurry.

After two years of feeling self-conscious, I finally pleaded my case to my wife.  I said, “Wife, oh wonderful wife.  Sweet, tender friend…  I’m tired of smelling like sweaty ass and balls.  Wouldest thou please, for the love of God and all that is Holy, consider picking up some f@€k!n& Tide?

My soulmate, my best friend in the whole world, looked at me like I was friggin’ nuts.  However, once I got down on one knee and began to weep, she knew I was serious.  And…


That’s freakin’ right ladies and gentlemen.  My funky days are in the rear view.

Now of course I’m playing loose with the facts and the conversation.  My cycling clothes did have a rough tinge to them though, and I was tired of it.  My awesome wife has been using the Tide for about two weeks now and I couldn’t be happier.

Finally is the one thing that goes without saying…  Dude, shower up after you ride.  Unless you live in California.  In that case, rub some dirt on it and hang with Governor Brown.  Or something.  Hey!  Kids’s diaper wipes!  We use those at hunting camp, they should work to save water.  That’s how I roll folks, that’s a lot of “give-a-$#!+” right there!

Happy trails.  Or, um, roads.

UPDATE:  Michael Cowart dropped in with a comment that it also helps to refrain from leaving the cycling kit laying around for days on end before washing it.  This is a very good point because even Tide and Febreeze have their limits.

UPDATE Number II:  The Tempo Cyclist added that wet wipes are an excellent item for commuters to keep handy as well, in the event your office/job doesn’t have a shower facility.

UPDATE Number III:  My buddy Titanium Henry chimed in.  Dude, wash the shorts after every ride.  Trust me.  Go ahead and read for yourself…shenrydafrankman, scroll down.

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15 Comments

  1. one more tip… don’t let the sweaty clothes sit around in a pile for days on end…

  2. Diaper wipes (or wet wipes or similar) are also your best friend if you cycle to work and they don’t have showers on site.

    My workplace doesn’t have showers (or lockers, or changing rooms, or any decent cycle commute facilities, but that’s a whole other rant) so I keep a pack or two handy and try to cycle in at an embarrassingly slow recovery pace.

  3. Chatter says:

    I’ll second this for running clothes. Got to love the Tide sport!!! I have accidentily left clothes in one of my bags for days and the wife had to soak them in OxyClean and water to fortunately save my clothing ( I used to buy cheap which this will never work with). Also, if it has spandex or some sort of special fibers do not put the clothes in the dryer and no matter what you do never, ever use dryer sheets.

  4. It’s ironic that your wife looked at you like you are friggin’ NUTS after you told her you were tired of smelling like schweaty BALLS!!!!!

  5. I also have a confession to make that is related to this topic. When I rode my first seven day tour (RAGBRAI), I only had two pairs of cycling shorts. Simply rinsing shorts does not do it. I got a YEAST INFECTION from wearing shorts too many times on that tour without a wash.

    Cure? Monistat. Works for men too.

  6. OmniRunner says:

    I hear that white vinegar works also. I’ll save my funk for James Brown!
    I’ve tried the special sports detergent that come in tiny bottles with big process and they don’t seem to work very well.

  7. Mark says:

    Who doesn’t wash their shorts after each ride? That’s a scary thought all on its own. If I can’t put them in the wash right away, then they get air dried. Leaving sweaty bike clothes in the laundry will make them reek worse and pass that aroma on to any other clothing that has the misfortune of coming in contact with them.

    For me, the biggest challenge is keeping the bike gloves from smelling like something that you pulled from an old Tupperware out of the back of the refrigerator. They’re the worst.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I know other people who have the glove problems as well. I wish I could give you my secret but I don’t have one… I take them off, throw them on top of my cycling bag and that’s it. I wash ’em a couple of times a season.

      As for the shorts in the wash, my wife is a water conserving hippie so she likes to have a full load before she does the laundry. The unscented detergent stuff won’t cut through even a 20 minutes of waiting for the washer to fill up. Tide Sport, on the other hand will make even gnarly stuff smell wonderful. It’s good stuff. So, under most normal circumstances I’d agree with your assessment, however as my buddy Titanium Henry stated above, there are extenuating circumstances that we have to work around. Unfortunately we make mistakes as he did but we share them so others know not to make the same mistakes.

      • Mark says:

        We tried a unscented, fully biodegradable detergent that someone recommended to us for a while (Shaklee maybe?). After a while nothing smelled good. We switched to 7th Generation stuff and that worked well enough and it is either unscented or very mild.

        As for my gloves, they go in the shower with me after every ride and I scrub them with soap. If not, I can’t deal with the smell. They’ll take on an aura like hockey gloves On the other hand, my shoes never smell bad no matter how much I sweat in them and I never do anything to clean them. It must have something to do with different body chemistry or something. People are weird.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Amen brother. People are weird. Except people on bikes, they’re cool. But in a weird way.

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