The anticipation of summer soon morphs into strategizing about how to avoid heatstroke on the trail or the road. Experienced riders know these cycling tips for staying cool in summer.
Wear Wicking and Breathable Gear
Technical mesh fabrics and wicking materials can help keep you cool on a ride. While many people like jersey's that are loose-fitting, they actually wick less, and trap more heat. Use removable sleeves if you’ll be climbing to cooler heights, so you can pull them off when you descend into hotter temperatures. Also, choosing a helmet with excellent venting is a great way to stay cooler.
Riding early in the morning or closer to sundown will take advantage of cooler temperatures and less direct sun exposure. Use the more intense parts of the day to begin acclimating your body to summer temperatures. Avoid strenuous activity during the peak heat and solar rays, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Freeze a spare bottle or put some ice cubes in your hydration pack to keep the water you carry with you cool. Don’t use ice on your body, though, as that will constrict blood vessels and send heat back into your core. Use a sports drink that replaces electrolytes, which can also help prevent cramping. In extreme temperatures, it can be a good idea to experiment with hyper hydration mixes.
Soak a bandana in cool water and use it to cover the back of your neck. Bring extra water and a cloth to wipe your arms, face, and chest with cool water when you pause for a drink. If you have a way to refill with potable, cold water, douse your head with cool water and allow the evaporation to help cool you off.
Slow Down and Wear Sunscreen
Don’t expect to match your fall and winter segment speeds in the heat! Ride to stay in shape and to get fresh air, but dial back the competitive streak unless you are actually racing.
Don’t forget this last important tip for cycling in hot weather: pack extra sunscreen in your gear bag, because the enthusiasm for getting out there on a hot summer morning causes many cyclists to forget to slather up, only to get burned on the back half of the ride. Our mountain bike shop online offers a variety of packs to stow extra supplies. Wear sport-rated waterproof sunscreen and clothes that have sun protection incorporated into them.
Know the Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness
The Centers for Disease Control maintains a helpful chart of heat-related illnesses and their symptoms and what to do about them. Heavy sweating combined with cold, pale, or clammy skin, a fast but weak pulse, dizziness or disorientation, and vomiting are all signs you need to get to a cooler place and call for medical assistance immediately. A high body temperature and hot dry skin with a fast, strong pulse are symptoms of heatstroke, which is life-threatening. If you intend to go cycling on a hot day, its best to buddy up and keep an eye on each other’s condition. Be prepared to call for emergency help if you notice any symptoms described in the CDC’s chart.
Stay safe in the summer heat!