Man vs. Towelette: Commuting to a Showerless Workplace

Bob CaravonaTo paraphrase John Wayne, “I see you talk the talk but do ride the ride?”

Bob Caravona is an Urban Planner and an amateur triathlete who not only talks the talk, but also swims the swim, bikes the bike, and runs the run. He strives for local government to follow through with the same conviction.

When mentioning to co-workers I was considering something so bold as bike commuting, my co-workers' immediate reaction was shock, followed by feigned expressions of concern for my office hygiene.

"You can’t do that! Where will you shower?"

"Don't you worry about stinking?"

"Oh, I would bike commute to work but I'm concerned about my professional image. Maybe, you could get away with it, but I can't."

Bob Caravona Breezer Jumping
'My bike commuting life began and set me free."

Well, yes. I do care. In fact, I cared so much that my caring co-workers' words affected my behavior a number of years. I never followed through with bike commuting to work. On congested city streets or traffic jammed highways, I was entombed in a car crawling along listening to sophomoric D.J. jokes as daylight vanished.

What should have been a fifteen or twenty minute drive, often took over an hour "“ one way. Bored, I calculated my wasted, auto-commuting life "“ 10 hours a week, 520 hours a year or 13,000 hours over the next 25 years. Yikes, 541 days of my work life would be lived in car, commuting to work! I felt this lengthy commute was robbing me of my life. Something had to change.

If you are considering becoming a bike commuter, do not tell or listen to your co-workers! Their responses were never meant for you. Rather, their words provided them an excuse not to bike and keep you repressed.

Baby Wet Wipes
It's not happening.

Approximately three years ago when I joined the "Bike to Work Week," my bike commuting life began and set me free. No doubt about it, my commute to and from work has never been more enjoyable "“ being outdoors, exploring cafes or stopping for drink with my wife"¦ and stink free!

Although it would be nice to have a shower at work, it is not necessary. Bike commuters are resourceful and generally prepared for all events and circumstance "“ rain, shine, flats and occasional grease and filth.

My first week of "Bike to Work Week", I overcompensated and tried to towel wash in the public bathroom but received some odd looks. (Hint: never use brown paper towel dispenser to wash oneself as for the rest of the day you smell like cheap bathroom soap and cardboard.)

Recalling my childhood days, my mother was always prepared for my "˜filth' with Wet Wipes. She would violently scrub the orange, Popsicle, dirty smile off my eight-year-old face. Why wouldn't these Wet Wipes work today on a grinning cyclist?

Office Stash
Personal Cupboard at the Office

Probably much like you and those non-bike-commuting office workers, I have a special cupboard or drawer stocked with personal supplies and food: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, sweetener, coffee, chocolate, etc. When I became a bike commuter, I now include in this stash Wet Wipes or other variety of personal showers in a cupboard!

Walgreen's Towelettes
Walgreen's Towelettes

Walgreen's Ultra Antibacterial Towelettes, have been my inexpensive stand-by as the plastic container, when properly closed, and keeps the towelettes moist for months. The citrus scent is strong and seems to clean-up the gunk. I can't claim that I notice the benefits of the vitamin E and natural aloe "“ I am a guy after all. Forty sheets per container is generous but I found myself usually using three to six towelettes per use.

As a guy, saying and using "towelettes" really isn't that manly. However, anything called "Anti Monkey Butt-Safari Towels" gets my attention, especially a resealable, package with a grinning, red-butt monkey, fishing, four-wheeling and hiking.

After my commute on an unusually hot and humid morning, I put the Safari Towel to the test to clean an especially, sweaty Bob.

Removing the gigantic, pillowy-soft towel — 14 by 24 inches — it was man-sized!

Within this resealable package, there are three of these man-sized towels, which could be conveniently stowed in a pannier, jacket packet, briefcase or portfolio, a BIG plus in maintaining your manly image rather than being a momma's boy with a big, plastic wipe dispenser.

Both the Walgreen's Ultra and Anti Monkey Butt Safari Towels have Aloe and Vitamin E, yet once again being a guy, this is lost upon me. Appreciated is that the Safari Towels are lightly scented. Perfect.

After running a half-marathon this week-end, I reached for the Safari Towel to clean my monkey butt up, well before changing clothes and going for post-race pancakes. No one ran out the restaurant.

Qwik Shower Gym Class Wipes and Anti Monkey Butt Safari Towels
Qwik Shower Gym Class Wipes and Anti Monkey Butt Safari Towels

Somewhere between an Anti Monkey Butt Safari Towel's size and Walgreen's Ultra's Moist Towelettes, lies QWIK Shower Gym Class Wipes balanced in moisture, clean smelling, and appropriately sized. Like the other products, Aloe Vera is introduced to protect one's skin; yet again, lost upon me. Unfortunately, the QWIK Wipes are gritty, almost sandpaper-like. These wipes are individually packaged, which may mean having a lot of loose packets floating around your cupboard, pannier or backpack. Three to four wipes per packet would be my preference so that there is less clutter.

The most important test that you could do, as a bike commuter, is find the right towel wipe for you. How do you do this? Get on your bike begin your bike commuting journey. If you work up a light sweat or need to remove the occasional road grim, great! Test these products and ask a co-worker, girl or boyfriend or spouse, "Which smells the best?" Then, proceed to purchase and stock your personal cupboard and enjoy your bike commuting life.

Anti Monkey Butt Safari Towels sell for $2.99 US for single package of 3, or $14.95 US for 6 packages of 3.

Qwick Shower Gym Class Wipes sell for $1.00 US each, and less per towel if purchased in higher quantities.

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