Some of your best rides can be under the hot summer sun, but you could be in serious trouble if you’re preparation is not ideal.
Have you ever found yourself feeling too hot, uncomfortable, or even disoriented after a bike ride on a hot summer day?
Hot weather zaps energy and fluids from your body, making riding difficult and potentially putting your health and wellbeing at risk. But if you prepare adequately for the weather, you can get in a great workout and feel even more accomplished afterward.
Here are eight tips on riding in hot and humid weather conditions.
Acclimatize yourself first
It’s important to acclimatize to the hot weather first, especially if you’ve just arrived from a cold-weather location.
Go out for a walk to feel the heat. Get your body used to it. Even sitting outside for 15 to 20 minutes can make a massive difference for your body to get used to the heat.
While you may be itching to get that long ride in, I’d recommend taking it a little easier on your first ride or two in super hot weather to acclimate to the temperature.
In the end, you’ll have a better idea of what you need, such as the amount of hydration required and the type of clothing.
Start and finish earlier
One of the easier ways to make those hot rides more bearable is to beat the heat. Wake up early and start your ride as the sun is just beginning to rise when temperatures could be 15 to 20 degrees cooler than the forecasted high for that day.
You never want to start your bike ride around noon on a hot day because that’s when the sun and temperature tend to be at their peak levels for the day.
If you’re not a morning person, even going out around 8am could be significantly more enjoyable and safe than riding in the afternoon.
Avoiding the hottest part of the day is just one of the benefits of exercising on your bike in the morning. Exercising in the morning helps you avoid distractions throughout the rest of your day, boosts your metabolism, and helps you sleep better at night.
Take it easy
We all want to kill it on every ride, but sometimes it’s best to take a backseat to Mother Nature and simply take it easy if it’s too hot. As you would expect, riding hard generally increases your core body temperature. Add in 90-degree weather and humidity, and expect your body temperature to rise even higher.
Sometimes, it’s OK to take it easy. This doesn’t mean you have to cancel your ride altogether, but maybe you’ll cut it short by a few miles or leave out some hills.
Here’s an even better idea. Plan a route to a nice body of water so you can cool off at the end!
When the weather is hot, drinking enough water is critical. For all people, cyclists and non-cyclists, medical experts recommend men drink 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of water each day; women should drink 11.5 cups (2.7 liters).
Remember, this is just the baseline and doesn’t include factors about the weather you’re riding in.
If you do any exercise at all, even if it’s a 10-minute rowing workout, you need to drink additional water to stay adequately hydrated. If you don’t drink a lot of water, it can be difficult at first to get used to that 3.7 liters (or 2.7 liters mark for women) goal.
Start by drinking a glass of water when you first wake up in the morning to prepare your body for your day’s water consumption.
During your ride,
- Drink 200 to 300mL of water every 30 minutes.
- If you ride at a high intensity for more than 90 minutes, drink at least 1L of water.
Sunscreen prevents you from getting a burn on your face, arms, and legs, which can be painful. But it can also,
- Decrease your risk of developing skin cancer.
- Keep you looking young by preventing wrinkles.
- Avoid broken blood vessels because UV rays can damage the skin’s blood vessel walls.
Getting a sunburn also zaps energy from your body. By spending a couple of extra minutes to coat a layer of UV-protecting sunscreen on all parts of your body exposed to the sun, you can avoid burns but also feel more energized to keep riding.
Dress for the occasion
When it comes to wearing the right apparel for cycling in hot weather, always look for helmets, jerseys, and other gear that’s,
- Ventilated. Give your body the opportunity to breathe and let any cool air in is critical. You also need ventilation so your sweat can adequately evaporate.
- Protects against the sun. You’ll be wearing sunscreen, but it’s also a good idea to buy cycling jerseys and bib shorts that offer UV protection. Look for something that offers at least UPF 40 protection.
Most people forget about head protection because they’re wearing a helmet. They forget that their helmet has vents on top for ventilation that, in return, allow the sun to burn you. You can wear a thin cycling cap that’s light enough to go under the helmet.
Stay in the shade as much as possible
Pick routes that allow you to stay in shadier places. That might mean giving up a longer ride on the open road in favor of country roads or the hills because the trees will provide excellent shade.
When you’re taking water breaks, find a shady spot to rest and stretch out.
Remember, your body constantly regulates its core temperature to 96.8ºF (36ºC). The more you’re in direct sunlight, the harder your body has to work, causing you to lose energy and become tired.
Hang out in high temperatures for too long, and your body can start early signs of heat exhaustion, which leave you disoriented or cause you to pass out.
Keep hydrating post-ride
You know about hydrating before and during your rides, but just because you’re done riding for the day doesn’t mean you have permission to stop hydrating. Immediately after your bike workout, consume 8 ounces of water.
Some cyclists like drinking a recovery drink after their ride, which is fine. But it shouldn’t be a 100% substitute for drinking water. Make sure to drink at least 300mL within 30 minutes of the end of your ride.