Sweating is only a problem for most of you because you're unhealthy and overweight. You're overweight because you get no exercise. It's okay: I was too. Then I started cycling to work and lost 50lb. Now sweating's not a problem, and I can go significantly faster without showing up to work drenched.
On my old commute (7.5mi), I ended up getting it down to 20 minutes once I got in shape. Time to drive? 20 minutes. Except instead of arriving to work tired and pissed off, I would show up alert, awake, and having enjoyed some time out in the sun doing something fun. It completely changed my mindset at work, and got me off to a much better foot every morning.
Showering isn't a problem. Again, go slower until sweating is no longer an issue, then increase your speed to a point that you can still get to work without being drenched. If you still show up wet, or if you're wet from rain, bring a change of clothes. I infrequently had to, but it's not that hard to ride in wearing cycling clothing (which will, incidentally, keep you much drier) and bring a change of clothes with you. Go into the bathroom, change, and be on with your day. It takes less time than it would to find a parking spot for your SUV anyway.
Weather is, again, not a big deal. We as humans have invented clothing for all sorts of weather conditions, intersected with the requirements of all sorts of physical activities. Cycling is no exception. There's cycling clothing for rain, for cold, and for rain _and_ cold. It costs equivalent to about a week's worth of driving for you 30-minute commuters. Less if your commute is longer.
I mean, come on. Hacker News is a site supposedly full of entrepreneurial go-getters. And yet this guy gives you a way to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, your time, and your sanity, and all I hear is griping about how minor inconveniences make it completely impossible. Yeah, some of you are trapped between a rock and a hard place. Some of you are already owning impossible-to-sell property forty miles out in the 'burbs. But for the rest of you, quit making excuses and just give it a try — it's seriously not as hard or inconvenient as you're making it out to be.
Who knows? Maybe the next time your apartment is up for renewal you'll find yourself moving closer to the city rather than farther away for once. And you won't ever look back.
I don't know about that; body chemistries are very different. But more importantly, it sounds like you live in a place with reasonably cool, dry air. Some of us don't have that privilege.
It's good advice, don't get me wrong. I myself lead a largely carless life in -- of all places, rather improbably -- downtown Atlanta, and walk about a mile and a half to work each way, and pretty much walk everywhere else too.
But to think I could bike around here without getting sweaty is a practical impossibility, no matter what condition of fitness or body weight. It's extremely humid, though not quite as bad as the gulf coast. It's just not going to happen. So, I'd suggest for anyone in that set of circumstances to be pragmatic and bring a change of clothes and try to find a place where you can shower at work.
I agree with the body chemistry bit, though. Some people just can't do it, one way or another. But for the majority of people, it's just an excuse. And it's a convenient one because they frequently are already unhealthy or overweight.
That can be a quite challenge most months out of the year, and I'm in fairly good shape. But I walk quite faster than most people (can't really help it). Even in the winter, I just feel cold from the chilly wind while simultaneously sweating inside my coat. It's the quintessential "clammy" experience. This area of the country absolutely sucks, climactically, although not quite as badly as Houston, where I lived for a while.
Maybe for you... but I've always been quite fit, never overweight at all, but biking to work on a warm sunny day is a guaranteed way to arrive looking like I just stepped out of a shower with my clothes on. Heck, I can stand still in humid 90 degree heat in the sun, and be drenched after twenty minutes. Plus, most of us don't have shower facilities at work to clean off all the sweat -- do you expect me to lock myself in the work bathroom for 20 minutes while I take a sponge bath from the sink?
And how do you bring a change of clothes if you wear a dress shirt at the office? It doesn't matter how nicely you fold it; it will be horribly wrinkled and creased after sitting in a backpack. Bottom line: it's simply not professional, in a lot of cases. It isn't making excuses, and it really is as inconvenient as people say it is. And I say this as someone who does bike to work, on the few days out of the year that the weather makes it possible to (without sweating, freezing, or being rained on).
(Not saying you should emulate DD otherwise mind!)
Incidentally, I did try the going slower thing, but I don't know if it's Manchester's humidity but it didn't really make much difference! (This could have been that my mountain bike's gear were irrepairably stuck in top gear - least this city is flat!)
In theory, I'd also found a way around the sweat problem. A new gym opened around the corner from work, and had a special offer of £10 a month. I sold it to myself, that it was worth just to have a shower when I got to work - and I'd not have one before I left in the morning. As a bonus, it was a gym, and they're kinda full of fitness gear, so I managed to overcome my pretty entrenched fear of these gym place and booked a trainer to give me a personal training plan. I'd say it's beat my fear of gym's and 'that' kind! Anyways I'm sure this story may one day go on to to say I lost 50lb - I'd be happy with 1 stone tbh, but that job ended and now I'll be working much closer to home.... a 10 minute cycle / bus journey. So, a bit less exercise, but less faff.
Still hoping that one day I can buy a house, with a similar commute from work. Though my generation (mid-30s) is still priced out of the housing here unless you're in a couple, both on decent incomes. That's definitely changing though!!
At one point, I made a conscious trade-off to live in the city, even though I was working in the burbs, because it was closer to my friends and things to do (and I am a single man). I had a 30-35 minute per day commute through annoying Boston traffic but it was totally worth it.
As for the sweat issue, I have been cycle-commuting for well over a year and often it doesn't matter how slow I go, I will still sweat during most of the seasons around here. Genetically, I'm a moderate sweater. In the colder months, it's really hard to balance against biting cold and sweating. In the hot, humid months it just doesn't matter. After 5 minutes I'll be sweating, backpack or no. Luckily, I don't really care and am fine sitting at my desk in an undershirt while I cool off. I keep a change of clothes in my desk for meetings. Not everyone has that luxury, though.
I went through a phase of 9-mile cycle-commuting and there's absolutely no way I would have been able to show up without stopping by the gym to take a shower first. There is no pace slow enough that I would not sweat through at least one layer of clothes. Believe me, I tried.
Incidentally, being in shape or not has nothing to do with it. I've been active my whole life and have always sweat-- and know people who sweat much worse than me.
But once you reach a reasonable weight and are just gaining muscle and cardio power, added fitness level just allows you to emit more power for longer. But sweat levels are pretty much just related to power (how much heat you generate) - and of course cooling.
At Grandparent's speed (22.5 mph) on flat ground, he's going to produce massive power to overcome air resistance. The effective fan will help cool him down/dissipate sweat, but especially in body areas that don't get such a good air blast, he will end up soaked.
I'm in very good shape.
I'll sweat, particularly in humid weather, even if it's nominally cool out.
San Francisco, not commonly considered sultry, runs ~85% RH in the morning, year round.
Even a transit commute (warm busses/subways, and some hill walking) can leave someone pretty schvitzy. Taking 5-10 minutes to cool down, outside, can help.
That said: I agree that commute costs and time are best avoided.
...or you are luck to live on the top a hill and work in a dried lake bed.
20 minutes was my _record_, with me hauling ass as fast as I could possibly go. And for the record, I was drenched. But I brought a change of clothes and had a quick shower that day. :)