Got a case of bike fever but keen to keep your cool while cycling this summer? Here are some tips to help you beat the heat through the dog days and beyond.
1. Heat-optimize your ride: If you’re biking for fun or exercise and have a choice, pencil in your big ride for the day of the week forecast to be the coolest. To the extent that your destination and schedule allow, avoid biking in the heat of the day. Take your spin in the morning or evening instead. If possible, opt for shaded routes near trees or water. Avoid expanses of sunbaked pavement.
2. Dress for the weather: How much skin you bare will depend on your fashion sense, comfort level, and sun-protection strategy (see below), but choose light-colored clothing that wicks moisture and/or allows air to circulate. Maximize airflow by leaving the backpack at home and stowing tools, food, water, and other necessities in panniers or a seat, frame, or handlebar bag.
Photo of Rapha sun sleeves courtesy LovelyBike.com.
3. Shield yourself from the sun: Even if you think you’ll be mostly in the shade, wear—or at least pack—sunglasses and sunscreen. Be mindful of neck, nose, cheek, and knee exposure. If you’d rather not slather your arms in sunblock, consider sun sleeves. Pro tip: run your sleeved arms under cold water before heading out the door. The evaporative cooling will feel divine.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: This one bears repeating. Start your ride well hydrated, drink along the way, and down a few more glasses (remember, neither coffee nor alcohol count!) when you get back. Bring more water than you think you’ll need and know where you can refill along the way. Take an insulated bottle of ice water for a refreshing mid-ride cool-down.
5. Replenish those electrolytes: You lose more than just water when you sweat, so re-upping H20 alone won’t cut it. Pack a salty snack to enjoy with your water; bring some fruits or veggies; fill one of your bottles with a sports drink or coconut water.
6. Know your limits—and respect them: The hottest day on record is not the time to try for a personal best on your ’round-town route or attempt to keep pace with clearly speedier riders. Pay attention to what your body is telling you about its tolerance of the sweltering summer conditions and don’t hesitate to alter your plans accordingly. Cut your ride short. Take a breather in a park. Swing by the pool. Indulge in—gasp—a frozen treat.
Of course, if your two-wheeled travels do include a stopover at a community center or a café or a gelato stand, best have a lock to secure your ride while you’re about your business there. Don’t let bike theft put a damper on your summer fun.
Ride more, worry less—with Altor.