9 TIPS FOR CYCLING IN THE SUMMER HEAT
The cold winter days are over and summer is finally here! And let’s be honest: Summer is a great time to start cycling. Many people use their bike on summer to meet with friends, go to swimming pool or have a bike trip.
The blue sky, the roasting sun, the longer days and the warmer evenings - there's no better time to be on a bike than in the summer. That may sound perfect, but summer is both the nicest time of year to go on tour, and also one of the more challenging: along with the hot weather comes the challenge of dealing with high temperatures, especially if you decide to have your bike trip in a region like Apulia. So to fully enjoy it, you have to be well prepared dealing with the heat and take a few precautions.
Here are some tips for staying cool and healthy if you’re bike touring in hot weather.
1. Have a shower before starting your tour
Have a shower not only after you finish your ride but also before you start it. Through a lukewarm shower you lower your body temperature.
2. Stay hydrated
Drink water before, during and after rides. As you ride on in the heat, you will sweat more as your body naturally tries to cool itself down. If you aren’t careful, you will end up losing more water than your body can afford, and end up getting early stage hyperthermia. To avoid dehydration, ensure you consider how long you plan to ride and either take enough water with you or plan convenient stops so you can top up. Avoid drinking too much cold water at one time too—this can cause cramping. Take instead in small amounts of fluids frequently to stay on top of your hydration needs. Be sure not to wait for the feeling of extreme thirst; this could be one of the initial signs of heat exhaustion.
Sometimes it’s hard to drink a lot of plain water, so you can add some flavourings. We like to add a little iced tea powder, a squeeze of lemon juice or about 20% orange juice to the mix.
3. Slow down.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can ride as fast or as far during the summer as you do in slightly cooler weather. Because the heat will make you expend more energy to maintain a speed that might normally be comfortable, so don't try to maintain the same pace or power you'd put out on a milder day. If you’re out in the country on an all-day ride, keep the pace steady and try to keep your energy expenditure low. Take it slow, don’t charge up all the hills. Regular breaks in the shade (or pub/café if you prefer) are a good tip too.
Wear technical clothing with high sweat wicking properties and which offer plenty of ventilation; mesh panels full-length zips and the like, so you can get as much cooling air over your body as possible. You need as much of your sweat pulled away from your skin as possible in order to maximize cooling. Don’t neglect your feet either; thin socks and well vented shoes will keep your toes from getting clammy. Choose clothing which has reflective cooling technology or UVF protection and aero helmets: A lot of heat is released through the head. Aero helmets with fewer vents will trap more heat and make it harder to keep cool. Opt for helmets with more vents instead of stealthier models during the summer months.
5. Don’t forget sunglasses
Glasses help protect your eyes from the sun (UV rays can also damage them over the long term), insects or mud, hail and rain. A good quality pair of sunglasses with dark lenses can eliminate much of the excess light reaching your eyes making seeing where you’re going easier, and also keep the harmful UV rays out too.
For the most value and versatility, get a pair with interchangeable lenses so you can adjust them depending on the always-changeable conditions.
6. Wear sunscreen
We shouldn’t need to state the benefits of applying sunscreen lotion on hot sunny days. As a cyclist, you could be exposing your skin to the sun for hours at a time. Make sure you protect it from damage.
As you’ll likely be sweating lots, you need to use a sunscreen or sunblock with the highest protection factor you can find and reapply it frequently.
We recommend bringing a small bottle of lotion with you so you can use some more throughout the ride. Don’t forget to protect areas like nose, ears, cheeks, the arms and last but not least the backs of your legs – sunlight reflecting off the ground can burn your calves and behind your knees, and that’s fairly uncomfortable.
6. Avoid the hottest part of the day
Avoid riding during the hottest parts of the day if possible. This is usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. So start early, have a lunch break and finish your ride in the evening. With long days, there’s plenty of time to ride in the early morning and evening.
7. Plan and Prepare
Plan your route in advance and let at least one other person know where you're going. Inform yourself about where the nearest shops/pubs/sources of water are. Decide on a a route with options to shorten the ride or shortcut back to your starting point in case you start to struggle is also a good plan. Be sure to carry a cell phone to call for a ride home if you get stuck. Bring money for a bus ride and extra fluids for emergency scenarios.
8. Be careful with food
Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables which will help you to stay hydrated. During your braeks try to have high carbohydrate snacks (nuts, malt loaf, bananas, energy bars).
This is one of the most important parts of your ride,When you ride long distances in the heat you are going to need to recover. Get a diet after the ride that has a lot of carbohydrates and proteins. Continue to hydrate in the hours that follow to replace fluids lost during the ride. This will allow you to face the heat again tomorrow.