There are only 30 days left in summer 2021. Summer is a fantastic time for cycling. But when the thermometer hits truly Mediterranean levels, summer rides can quickly become a sweat-fest and there are a number of risks to be aware of – including sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke. Use these seven tips to stay safe and be cool when the heat kicks into high gear.
1. Cycling at the right time of day
The time you ride plays an important part in how hot it will get on the asphalt. Aim to set your alarm for pre-sunrise if you can so you can get out on the roads during the earliest part of the day when the sun is not yet at its fiercest.If you're not an early riser, it's best to avoid riding through late-morning, noon, and the afternoon. Also, plan rides that feature plenty of shade-providing woodlands if possible to give you a break from the oppressive heat.
2. Hydrate before/during/post-ride
Replacing lost fluids with a sports drink containing sodium is a must during hot weather. But equally important to your on-the-bike needs is a plan to ensure you stay hydrated prior to and following your workouts.During the ride, consume at least one 20–24-ounce bottle of sports drink each hour. (You may need more depending on how much you weigh.) Following your workout, a recovery drink containing sodium and potassium will help you retain the fluids you put in and help you rehydrate faster.
3. Wear proper stuff
Like any activity in higher-than-usual temperatures, you need to choose suitable clothing for cycling. In particular, after a ride under the sun, choose technical, preferably light-colored fabrics that don't attract UV rays to avoid unsightly sweat stains. These clothes are extremely lightweight, readily available commercially, and made of special breathable fabrics that let sweat evaporate quickly while keeping the skin always dry.
4. Use sunscreen and re-apply in time
This is fundamental, though it's unfortunately often underestimated. Don't even think of going cycling without having applied a high SPF sunscreen on exposed skin, wear clothes that cover the more delicate parts of your skin and a hat to protect your head from sunburn."Re-applying sunscreen is crucial during a ride, particularly if you are sweating," says Professor Diffey. We would usually recommend reapplying every two hours, but if you are sweating heavily and wiping it away, then you will want to reapply more regularly.
5. Pedaling according to heat changing
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can ride as fast or as far during the summer as you do in slightly cooler weather. Because the heat will make you expend more energy to maintain a speed that might normally be comfortable, be sure to pace yourself accordingly when riding during the hotter parts of the day.If you’re training for a race, be especially careful when doing interval training. Reduce the length of each effort, and ride at a slightly lower power/heart rate output to be safe and avoid the risk of heatstroke.