Bicycles are for the summer, but at the beginning of August, at 30 degrees in the shade, 40 in the sun and 20 with air conditioning – who is going to ride a bike without fear of melting on the asphalt? For those of us who cycle every week of the year, changing some of our habits or taking extra precautions during July and August is a must. Based on our experience, here are some tips on how to counter heat on your bike, no matter if it is biking to work or climbing a mountain pass.
8 tips to fight heat while cycling
1. Plan ahead!
As obvious as it seems, you must avoid cycling at noon. Getting up early for cycling is like getting up late, and in summer the early morning hours are the best for cycling. If you leave at 6-7 AM you will return home relatively early, avoiding midday sunlight. Going out from 7 to 8 PM and bringing a strong light for when it gets dark is also a good idea. You will find empty streets and paths. Going out at night has a special charm. Regardless of the time of day, it is not recommended to go out if the temperature is above 38ºC.
It is essential to carry two water bottles on your bike or a hydration pack. The night before, you can fill each one with a maximum of 3/4 of water and put it in the freezer. Cold water will keep you hydrated for quite some time. If you carry a hydration bag on your back, this will also refresh you. The ideal is to drink between a liter and a liter and a half every hour. In addition to water or energy drinks, eating fruit is also a good source of water for your body. If you are going on a bike trip for several days, it is highly recommended to increase your consumption of fruit and vegetables a week before leaving. Eat grapes and watermelons like there’s no tomorrow!
3. Get wet!
Take advantage of any fountain to wet the back of your neck and forearms. Don’t put ice on your jersey as it will cause blood vessels to constrict, resulting in increased body temperature. Your jersey has a zipper, and can be fully opened so that it can cool down faster. Don’t be shy.
4. Get ready!
Don’t expect to ride 70 km on July 15th after not having touched your bike for 4 months. You’ll probably take longer to do it, get more tired and more exposed to heatstrokes. Take it easy – you have another 10 months to go at full speed. Preferably wear light-coloured clothes and a cap under your helmet to avoid direct sunlight on your head and to get sweat absorbed. Sunglasses too, of course. IIf they are photochromic, in order to see perfectly in all conditions, all the better.
5. Get the bike ready!
Imagine a puncture 30 kilometers away from home, in broad daylight and with 35 degrees, without a spare inner tube or tools at hand. While an accident like this can easily be solved in 10 minutes if you have all you need, not bringing your spare tools or inner tubes can mean that you will have to walk your bike in the blazing sun to a point where you can buy the necessary items, take public transport or, if you are very lucky, be picked up.
6. Protect your skin
Although it is not a heat-lowering measure, it is very important to protect your skin with sunscreen or spray. There are also small containers that fit perfectly into the pockets of your jersey to keep applying sunscreen all along the way.
7. Work out!
If you are going to compete, make a difficult trip with friends or climb a mountain in hot conditions, you should train in the same conditions beforehand. This way you will get used to the heat of the day and, thanks to the extra effort, you will not succumb to the extra effort.
8. Raise awareness and demand!
You are among the lucky ones who can ride to work on a bike, and some of your (soulless) colleagues complain that you arrive sweating (with a bad smell). If you do, ask that showers be installed at work so you can shower and put clean clothes and deodorant on. Make sure the rest of your colleagues know that going to work on your bike is also an advantage for them, as you do not pollute.