Were we really just freezing our gears off just a few months ago? It’s hard to remember that icy chill now that summer has arrived and things are getting hot and sweaty, especially on the bike.
Summer is a great time to go riding, you get more daylight hours for more flexible ride times, can sit and bask with a beverage when you reach your turn around point, enjoying the buzz of summer atmosphere.
The only drawback is that some days it swelters and really ruins your ride mood. Hot weather doesn’t need to get you bothered, here are some ways to ride smart in summer and keep your cool all season long.
Fatigue, muscle cramps and headaches in summer are usually caused by dehydration and just a small percentage of dehydration can have you feeling worse for wear. Your body will naturally cool down by creating sweat, used to cool your skin with passing air currents, at the same time, your body loses fluids, including chloride, potassium, and sodium, which exit through your pours.
If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you’ve left it too long.
Rather than drain a bidon at a time, gradually take small amounts of water in before, during and after your ride to balance out the fluid lost by sweat. Make sure you have plenty of water with you and know where to stop to refill.
Avoid sugar loaded energy drinks, especially if you are riding to lose some winter weight. If water alone isn’t topping you up add some electrolytes purchased from the chemist to help replace those nutrients your body has shed.
Hate drinking hot water? Freeze one of your drink bottles overnight (remember to leave a good-sized amount of air in the top to allow for liquid expansion). This bottle will slowly defrost as you peddle. You can also add ice cubes to drink bottles to help keep them cooler longer.
Wear summer cycling gear
Summer bid-knicks offer more ventilation where you need it most to keep you cool. That means you will sweat less and feel more comfortable on your ride.
Summer materials are lighter weight, use more mesh and also wick moister away from your body more easily. Full zips at the front give you the option to unzip at various levels, depending on how much wind you want to get on your torso, some also have ventilated armpits, avoiding sweat build up under your arms.
As far as shorts go, summer is the worse time for sweat, creating rash and chaffing so a well fitting pair with a good absorbent seat is essential for a comfortable ride.
Feel like skipping on gloves in summer? The best protection your hands can get is quality cycling gloves. Go for the fingerless version to help keep you cool. The moisture absorbing aspect of gloves will also make changing gears and breaking a less sweaty ordeal.
Protect your eyes from glare and UV with a quality set of sunglasses. Wearing glasses also helps reduce the amount of dust, dirt and pollen and flying bugs you are subjected to.
Sun damage is nothing to take lightly, especially in Australian climates where there is a higher dose of UV. While a tan, especially one that shows off your cycling prowess, might be an attractive idea, skin cancer is not, neither is sunburn which can make wearing clothes and riding again really uncomfortable for a while. Make sure you buy quality sun cream and apply it well before you head outdoors, and reapply if you are out on the bike for long periods.
Time your ride
Not only will riding at the right time be more comfortable, it’s less taxing for your body so your recovery time will be faster. Avoid cycling outside in the hottest part of the day, from 11am to 3pm. Stick to morning or evening rides during summer. Keep in mind if you chose to ride in the evenings you will most likely encounter more bugs and need to have working lights on your bike for visibility if you are still on the road when the sun goes down.
Be cautious of hazards
Other people take advantage of more daylight and better temperatures as well, namely council road workers who find resurfaced roads stick better in summer heat. That means you are more likely to come across loose gravel stones, exposed tar patches and grazed roads. Be cautious of sticky tar on hot days. The first rain a few days (or weeks) can also spell trouble as it lifts oil and petrol off the road creating a slippery surface.
Stay cool longer
Break your ride if you need to, stop in the shade or in a café with cooling to give yourself a break if you are feeling overheated. When you get home a cool bath or shower will help regulate your core temperature and allow you to feel relaxed and refreshed. Keep a cold drink on hand in the fridge ready for when you get back and remember to eat, all that water can sometime dull your appetite so stick to your regular meals and mealtimes.
As always, stay safe and enjoy the ride!