It’s the summer. It’s hot out. It’s crowded. It’s sticky. But man, is it beautiful. Birds are chirping. Music is playing. People are smiling. We don’t want you to miss out on all of the positive because of a particular tilt in the earth’s axis! So shift up and and prepare for biking in the heat!
Biking in the Heat
Biking in the heat takes concentration, determination and most importantly, preparation. Here we will set you up for success in the difficult yet enjoyable hot bike season. We’ll run through dress, hydration and other techniques toward building the groundwork for an amazing and bike-able summer.
Many of us wait all year to shed our layers of clothing. As the gloves, jackets, leggings and wool socks come off, the sun hits and it is a-blazin’. It is imperative to make sure you have the right attire for this time of the year as well. By looking the part you will show off your bike as well as work on your tan! I’d recommend getting a bike jersey with a zipper so you have the option to open it up and feel that pedal-made breeze you have created. Light but vibrant colors with sun reflectors avoid attracting too much heat while still allowing visibility. These Pearl Izumi Jersey’s are sure to help you fight the heat!
Additionally you may want some accessories like polarized glasses, a bandana or scarf for your head/neck and thin cycling shorts and socks. This will help you avoid some of the powerful sun and let your skin breathe out on the road! It may seem like a no brainer, but you’ve just gotta dress for success!
Drink water! This often overlooked aspect of biking in the heat starts before your ride does. If you know you are planning a bike ride the next day, make sure to get liquids in your system prior to the ride. Water should do the trick, but if you want the electrolytes that many crave without the unnecessary sugar provided by gatorade or something more refreshing than overly sweet electrolyte powders in your water bottle, leave some water in a container with some slices of cucumber. That way when you’re ready the next day for your bike ride you will have a natural sports drink!
When you are cycling it’s important to have enough water for the day. Carry a couple of full bottles on your bike and maybe even wear a hydration pack stocked with a couple of liters of water. This will ensure that you have enough in case there are no stopping points along the ride. When you do stop, be sure to drink in sips. Large gulps can cause cramps. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to get sippin’ either. Avoid exhaustion with frequent and regular drinks. Hydrate hydrate hydrate!
We become so fixated on the liquids we’re consuming that we forget about the solids. It’s just as important that we are eating right as we travel by bike to our destinations. Make sure to bring snacks to fill in those calories as we burn so much from being the awesome cyclists that we are. The best foods to eat are raw or whole foods dense in calories and protein. Sweet potatoes, nuts/seeds, apples, bananas or even nut butter sandwiches are all excellent options as you’re on the road.
For a more comprehensive list of on the road dining options check out our other article about bike food and how to make your ride delicious. However, as a general rule, we should all eat right all the time. But there’s never a better time to start than right now on your bike!
The sun is a frenemy to say the least. It brings people together, providing brightness and vitamin D. It separates us when we bathe in it for too long. Make sure to apply sunscreen before each ride. Sun exposure sounds good until it reddens and flakes. That lotion scent becomes my cologne in the summer time, and for good reason.
Additionally, as sweat is released from pores around our body, they slip and slide into many spots. Sometimes uncomfortable spots. Don’t forget your deodorant and antiperspirant to help with smell and sweat reduction. With all that sweating, the inevitable chafing will occur as well. To deal with this, I will refer you to our article regarding Chamois Butt’r. Protect your body from these common occurrences and you will be sure to ride comfortable and smiling.
Do it. Think it. Be it. Stress is such a large factor in heat exhaustion. Make sure you give yourself enough rest at the end of and before your bike rides. Your body, brain and butt will all thank you for some relaxation. Get a good night of sleep before and after days of riding as to not exhaust yourself.
Don’t make the mistake of overriding. It’s fun to bike. And even more fun to make bike more. However, with all this fun, it is quite easy to forget how important rest time is. Don’t become the victim in what need not be a problem. Plan for your next adventure. Cook a tasty and nutritious meal. Read articles about biking in the heat. Take your time off the bike as reward for all your hard work!
It’s easy to be deterred by the powerful sun and scorching air. I want to leave you with one last reminder to stay positive! This heat won’t last forever. You will have cool air to come home too. A nice shower. A hearty meal. You are on your bike because you are a commuter, an athlete, an enthusiast, a cyclist. You’ve earned road rights, now take those roads with a grin.
Keep your head up. Keep your legs moving. And keep biking in the heat. Just do it safely, deliberately and merrily!