The summer months bring with them all sorts of great things—triple digit temperatures not included. I have a few tips that will keep you in shape and in the saddle during the summer while still staying cool and safe.
Bring Enough Water
Make sure to bring lots of water on your summer cycling adventures. It’s easy to underestimate how much water you will consume when working out in the heat and running out of water halfway into your ride is not a fun experience. If you don’t already, consider adding a second water bottle cage to you frame. This is an easy way to double your carrying capacity. If your frame doesn’t have a second mount, you can find bottle holders that mount off the back of the seat. You can also carry another bottle or two in your jersey pockets. Next, pick up some larger capacity water bottles. A couple 26 ounce bottles will add significant capacity if you have smaller bottles. Or you could consider Camelbak insulated bottles to keep the contents cool for longer, ensuring you aren’t drinking hot water later in your ride. Regardless of the option you select, just be safe—heat stroke is not fun. Plan your rides out beforehand and find points where you can refill your bottles intermittently.
Stock up on Nutrition Products
In line with staying hydrated, hot rides might require a little something extra to keep your body going. The summer heat will cause you to sweat out a lot of the salts in your body. Because of this, it is important to consume electrolytes to replace what you are losing. Consider picking up some nutrition products for your summer rides. If you aren’t sure what nutritional products to get, check out our guide for during workout nutrition, or watch this video. A specific product that is great for helping to stay hydrated on the hottest days is Skratch Lab’s Hyper Hydration. It increases the amount of salt in your body so that you can hold on to the water you have while maintaining electrolyte levels.
Wear Light Colored Clothing
Darker fabrics are going to absorb more of the Sun’s radiation and raise your body temperature. Wearing white cycling kits will help reflect the radiation and keep you cooler. If you don’t have a white kit, just try and wear lighter colors. Lighter colors will keep your body cooler, meaning less sweat, and less loss of electrolytes.
Ride at Cooler Times of the Day
Although the Sun’s radiation is most intense when it is highest in the sky, the temperatures during the summer actually reach their peak between four and six in the afternoon. Keep this in mind and plan on riding in the early morning or in the evening after the Sun starts going down. Consider picking up a cycling light to stay safe when riding at darker hours.
Adjust Your Rides
If you are going to ride in the heat, it is wise to change the duration and intensity of your rides. When climbing, take it easy, increase your cadence and consider taking a break (even if you think you can push harder). Shorten your Saturday long ride so that you aren’t putting such a strain on your body. Add a cross-training workout at the gym into your schedule in order to beat the heat and still stay in peak physical condition.
There is no support like that of a friend. If you can ride with someone, you can keep an eye on each other. This way, if a person starts to experience heat stroke or just gets stranded in the heat, a friend will be there to help out. Signs of heat stroke include headaches, lack of sweat, and confusion. If you see any of these traits in a friend or yourself, it might be a sign that you need to get out of the heat, rehydrate and relax. With cases of severe heat stroke, please seek medical attention!
Travel to a Cooler Climate.
Your friends might be more inclined to ride with you if they get enticed by a little summer adventure. If your locale is too hot, consider planning some day trips up to the mountains with friends to ride. Elevation will do wonders. This is a great way to beat the heat and discover great new places and rides. Figure out where you want to go and then check to see if anyone has published a ride book for the area or if there are any routes online that are popular. Exploring is always an option as well!
Now get out there, enjoy your summer, and do some riding!
Rubber Side Down is a weekly column dedicated to the fledgling cyclist in all of us. Art’s Cyclery Web Content Editor, Brett Murphy is not a professional cyclist, and doesn’t try to masquerade as one either, but he does love to ride bikes. Whether you are clipping in for the first time or counting down the days until your first race, read on, learn from his mistakes, and keep the rubber side down.