Home > Health+Nutrition

8 tips for bike commuting in the heat of summer

Humidity, scorching temperatures and sweaty backs are all sure signs of summer for cyclists but there are steps you can take to managing the hottest days on the bike

Summer has finally arrived and while the beautiful sunshine is great news for cyclists, it also comes with considerable mid-summer heat across Canada. Hot weather affects people differently but as the temperature reaches up to the high 20s and 30s C it means you might need to adjust your commuting habits. Arriving at your destination drained and sweaty is far from ideal but it’s not hard to take precautionary steps to ensure your summer bike commute is enjoyable. Here are X tips to beat the heat on your bike commute this summer:

Use panniers or bike bags instead of a knapsack

Wearing a knapsack will often lead to a totally sweaty back if you are riding when it’s really warm. To avoid this, consider outfitting your bike with panniers or find bike bags that will help transport your belongings without preventing air to circulate and cool your back. Removing that heavy bag off your back will also remove the load from your shoulders which will be a relief.

Bring water

Just because your commute isn’t so long doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ride with some cold water. A mid-commute refreshment can go a long way if you begin overheating or simply get thirty. Staying well hydrated will also help your body better regulate your body temperature and having a drink during your commute can help keep you hydrated throughout a hot day.

Wear lightweight clothes

You don’t need to wear athletic clothing for a cool ride in hot weather. Making sure you wear light fabrics and light colours can help reduce perspiration in the heat. Wearing loose-fitting lightweight fabrics like linen covering your skin can also protect from the sun while keeping your body cool. You can also use performance apparel that wicks sweat packing a change of clothes for when you arrive at your destination. Wearing a cycling cap can also help manage sweat on your brow preventing it from dripping into your eyes.

Take it easy

Riding hard on your commute will make your body warm-up faster, sweat more and that higher excursion level will drain you out in the heat. If you feel rushed or have the habit of riding relatively hard on your commute, dial it back a notch when it’s hot for a more enjoyable ride. Giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination and just chilling out is a good idea in the heat.

Apply sunscreen

Keeping your skin protected from harmful UV rays is important for your immediate comfort and long term health. A sunburn can be thoroughly unenjoyable and compromising your skin’s health is just not worth the risk. Applying sunscreen before your head out the door is a very good idea when you are commuting on a sunny summer day.

Find shaded routes

Staying on narrow roads or bike paths with big trees and greenery can help make your commute less hot and more enjoyable. Staying out of direct sunlight and spaces with only concrete can have a noticeable difference since tress cool down the air and shade is a welcome respite from beating hot rays of sunlight.

Have a rain jacket handy

Unexpected thunderstorms are a staple of hot humid summer days. Along with summer heat and humidity comes the occasional threat of a thunderstorm complete with pouring rain, driving winds, hail, lightning and cracks of thunder. A sudden downpour can be seriously refreshing but if you want to limit how soaked you will get. leave with a rain jacket with you so you are always prepared. Remember to head for shelter if you are caught in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Wear sunglasses

Just as important as protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, is protecting your eyes. Wearing a pair of sunglasses is already good practice to keep bugs, dust or debris from blowing into your eyes but will also allow you to navigate a bright and sunny day.