In much of Canada, the summers come with humidity and heat along with the increased hours of sunshine. While the weather is beautiful and hot, cyclists want to take advantage of the riding but the summer weather also comes with its challenges. A ride gone bad in the heat is no fun and the temperature can also hinder your performance, lead to dehydration and a sunburn. So in order to take advantage of the beautiful weather be prepared for cycling in the summer heat with these six tips:
Dress for the heat
Choosing the right apparel when you are riding in the heat can make a big difference. Maybe leave that black kit at home on the hottest days of the year and instead opt to wear one of a lighter colour. Pick a lightweight jersey with good moisture wicking. Remember some very lightweight kits may not give you full sun protection so apply sunscreen underneath lightweight meshes. A light cycling cap can also be useful to keep the sun off your face. If your arms are very sensitive consider purchasing a pair of arm skins which will help manage your temperature and keep the sun off your arms on a long day. You can also unzip your jersey to allow more air to flow directly onto your body.
An essential part to enjoying a hot summer ride is managing your fluid intake. It is so easy to come back from a long ride in the heat drained and dehydrated. Plan your route so you have a water stop every two hours or so. In the days leading up to your ride make sure you take in lots of fluids and the morning off as well. On the ride, you need to at least drink a 550 ml bottle an hour. It’s good to also incorporate a sports drink as your body will depleting your vitamin and mineral stores quicker. The night before a ride freeze half a bottle of water so you have one that will stay cold a little longer on your ride.
Decrease the intensity
If you are not used to riding in the heat it can feel a lot harder. Notchback the intensity of your riding until you are certain of your bodies limits. It takes time for it to acclimatize to the temperature and riding too hard is a sure way to make it a long and hot day in the saddle. If you do have intervals you want to get done plan them for early morning or evening when it’s not as hot out or choose to do them on the coolest day of the week instead of the hottest.
If you are overheating while riding, try squirting a little water on your head, the back of your neck or forearms. Make sure you don’t do this with your energy drink! When you do stop, rinse off the sweat from your face, arms and legs. The sweat and sunscreen may have attracted dirt and you will feel immensely refreshed after. Remember to reapply sunscreen accordingly. Taking shelter from the sun when you stop for a break is also a very good idea.
Proper sun protection
It’s easy to be fried to a crisp when out for a long summer ride. A burn is not only bad for your general health and leaves your skin more sensitive but will increase your metabolism requiring more fluid intake and making you feel more fatigued. Avoid getting burnt on your hot summer rides at all cost. Do so by always bringing a little tube of sunscreen in your back pocket and reapplying throughout the day. Don’t forget your head as well as the sun will penetrate the vents of your helmet.
If it’s the hottest day of the summer maybe it isn’t the best idea to plan to do the hardest climb in town on this day. Instead, try a route that passes through some more sheltered roads away from the scorching hot tarmac. Likewise, you could venture off the beaten track and hop onto your cross or mountain bike to take shelter in the woods. If you do decide the road is calling, plan your day to head out early so you can avoid riding the entire afternoon when it’s hottest. Finally, have a recovery drink, cut up fruit or a refreshing meal prepared so that when you do roll in the door you can fend of the exhaustion that comes with being active when it’s hot out. If there is a pool, lake or ocean to jump into, now is certainly the time to take advantage of it.