Here are our 5 essential tips for cycling in hot weather to help you enjoy your ride.
We cyclists all love the summer sun. But when you’ve spent the winter and spring wrapped up and protected from the cold, just how should you adjust to cycling in hot weather? The answer is to drink little and often and to wear protective sunscreen, glasses and suitable clothing. Here we go a little deeper with out 5 essential tips that’ll help ensure you thrive under that summer sun.
When summer rolls around each year it can make the going difficult on a bicycle. As you tap out a rhythm on a climb or a trail, those increased temperatures can have you dripping in sweat in no time. Some people fail to realise this and later find themselves suffering from dehydration.
Modern cycling clothing can wick away the sweat so efficiently that you fail to realise how much fluid you’re losing. It’s important to be aware of it. Drinking little and often, rather than waiting until you are thirsty is the key to cycling in hot weather. Those who don’t, run the risk of dehydration. Losing as little as 2% of body fluid results in a considerable loss in performance. While losing more can be outright dangerous for the athlete.
The harder you work on the bike, the more fluid you’ll be required to take on. And at high intensities, you’ll notice the drop off in performance much faster once you begin to lose hydration.
Electrolytes are of great use to anyone cycling in hot weather. They replace those essential salts and minerals lost through sweating. They also help you retain the fluid you take on board during your ride. Remember, when it’s hot, keep sipping at regular intervals!
In the height of summer with the sun high in the sky, the increased exposure to the sun’s rays is an important concern. Harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV) forms part of the invisible end of the spectrum. We don’t see it, but its effects can sneak up on us over time and cause damage to not only our skin but also our eyes.
UV radiation consists of UVA, UVB and UVC rays. Small quantities of UVA and UVB are desirable, but frequent exposure leads to problems. Cataracts and macular degeneration can lead to loss of vision in later life.
A pair of quality sunglasses will go a long way in protecting your eye health. Ensure the lenses incorporate UV protection. Protective eyewear not only filters out harmful rays, but also offers improved vision and enhanced contrast in harsh lighting conditions.
Depending on where you live, the temperature may reach unbearable levels in the afternoon. If that’s your case, then it may be best to ride in early morning or evening when the temperatures are more hospitable and roads quieter.
If you do venture out late in the evening, perhaps bring a gilet for that inevitable temperature drop. It’s also a good idea to carry a light just in case you become the victim of any unforeseen circumstances. Punctures and mechanicals often happen at the most inopportune times!
Clothing is important when cycling in hot weather. Go with lightweight materials with enhanced wicking properties. There’s no worse feeling than that of being weighed down with a jersey drenched in sweat. Many modern fabrics are designed to maintain that fresh feel even in the heat of summer.
A short-sleeved cycling jersey is essential. Ensure it has a full-length front zipper that allows you to adjust the ventilation accordingly. On steep climbs when you really dig deep in the hot weather, you’ll be glad of the option.
A comfortable pair of shorts is also essential. When cycling in hot weather bacteria can quickly accumulate around the groin area. With increased friction, this can lead to extreme discomfort. Many types of bib shorts have antibacterial properties in the pad. This makes them the preferred choice for cycling in the heat. Just remember to wash your shorts thoroughly after each ride! The accumulation of bacteria can result in saddle sores, and that's one thing sure to keep you off the bike for a while.
This one goes without saying, but it’s always surprising how many fail to heed the dangers of sun exposure. Skin cancer is a real issue when cycling in hot weather, especially for those with whiter skin.
Although many serious cyclists already have a solid tan, you can never be too careful! On long rides, especially on the road, you may be exposed to the hot sun for 4-5 hours, perhaps more. This can do untold damage over time.
Sunscreen should be applied if you’re cycling in hot weather under a strong sun for a considerable length of time. Apply it to the arms, legs, face and the back of your neck. An area left unprotected will eventually burn if you’re out in the sun for long enough.
Finally, if you sweat considerably ensure you stay protected by reapplying the protective cream often!