Robot’s Useless Reviews – Sweat

I’m a sweater. No. Not a cardigan, crew neck or crop top, a prolific perspirant, an excreter of egregious quantities of exercise-induced effluent. When the mercury rises and the humidity climbs, I am wet. My shins and forearms sweat, my eyeballs, my soul. It runs through my hair and down my face, stinging my eyes, salting my lips. I mop at my brow with the shoulder of my shirt, but the fabric, highly-wicking though it may be, is quickly overwhelmed.

I understand this as a function of temperature control. Our species has been gifted with an evaporative cooling system by the guiding hand of evolution. Dogs got one too, but with only their tongues as conductive conduit. Perhaps, as the planet warms, there will be a necessary further iteration on this system. I might suggest, if I get invited to the meeting, adding an off-gassing option, whereby we can skip the liquid cooling paradigm, which comes with a pesky unbalancing of electrolytes, in favor of a smokestack that pushes excess heat out the top in the form of carbon dioxide and methane.

There is virtually no accurate science in that last paragraph.

Moving on, sweat strikes me as just one more weakness in our overall design, like the requirement for constant caloric input. Three meals a day? Seriously? Like sweating, it’s inconvenient and inefficient. We humans hold ourselves in high regard. We’re the apex predator. We are self-reflective and capable of remarkable works of art, which we enjoy with our enormous frontal cortex.

But when it gets a little warm, we leak like a congressional office.

Some of you just glow. Some of you get a delicate sheen. Your system works better than mine does. That thin layer of moisture evaporates easily and steadily, and you still feel the heat, but your body is able to cool itself and establish a homeostasis that doesn’t lead to dehydration, heat stroke, and/or looking like you peed your pants (except your pants is your whole body). This review isn’t really for you. And while every word you’ve read up to this point has been a waste of your time, the good news is that, evolutionarily speaking, your DNA is more likely to survive than mine.

TCI is brought to you, in part, by Shimano North America.

Given that I find myself on the wrong end of the sweating bell curve, one might reasonably ask what I do to ameliorate the problems that come along with hyperhidrosis (I should note here, I don’t actually have hyperhidrosis, which is a legit medical issue). Well friend, I’ll tell you. I hydrate real hard. Your one bottle ride is a two-bottle ride for me. Your two-bottle ride is a hydration pack ride for me. Your water is my electrolyte mix. Your electrolyte mix is my salt tabs. If you’re carrying a hydration pack with electrolyte mix and chewing salt tabs, then I am dead by the side of the road/trail, with lichens growing on my forehead and mushrooms pushing up through the fertile earth of my chest cavity.

The other thing I do is bag on rides that happen on hot days. If it’s sunny and 80F, a lot of folks think it’s perfect riding weather. I think it’s a torture rack and a hatful of bees. Give me 40F and I’ll show you what I can do on a bike. Give me 80F and I’ll spin lightly for an hour and then retreat to the air-conditioning to wait for the weather to turn. Often, in summertime, I feel like I’m on an electrolyte roller coaster, I empty the tank in the morning, spend the rest of the day relentlessly hydrating to get back on terms, and then do it all again the next day. It leaves me feeling washed out.

Sweating is even more inefficient because it does not recycle in any way. You can’t re-ingest the salt and other minerals in it. You can’t use that liquid. If you leave in in your clothing, its distilled essence is noisome and will make the fabric rigid and scratchy. Other than keeping your brain from boiling inside your skull, it has no redeeming use.

So say no to sweat if you can, and if you can’t, I don’t know…years of complaining about it and wishing it weren’t so haven’t helped me at all. As my friend Thatch used to say, “Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.” That always struck me as solid advice.

Join the conversation
  1. schlem says

    Halo headbands changed my life. I own a dozen of them, and I carry a spare dry one on loooong rides. Also, delicious beer is not a rehydration solution. But it sure goes down nicely.

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