I know this post is late in the season but it's that time of the year when I want to be in the great outdoors exploring by bike under the summer sun. While temperatures start to rise, at least here in NY, I thought a little refresher could help along the journey. When I first started cycling in summer in NYC, it was humid, sticky, and completely pointless dressing up. As a city girl, I've shared posts about summer bicycle lifestyle that shared information from summer hair tutorials to what to wear. Now that I live in upstate NY and road cycle, I'm having a whole other experience with the heat and humidity. Almost the kind that stops me in my tracks while I sweat through my kit while climbing, longing for the better days of cold summers in SF. With that said, I think I now have a better idea of how to beat the extreme heat while getting the most out of my ride. Whether you're on a group ride, solo ride, or bike packing, here are some tips to keep you feeling good on your bike this summer too.
Check the weather first thing so you can plan for hot weather riding. One thing I've learned to do is plan my rides early in the day while it's still cool. Sometimes that means waking up at 6am to eat and head out before the high sun starts to hit. You can also ride in the later afternoon while the sun is setting but there is nothing like the cool fresh morning air. If you're not very good at tolerating heat, acclimating and learning how to adjust to time and seasonal change can make your ride more comfortable when you find the right time and temperature to roll out.
Riding a bike is good for your health and all that fresh air is good for your skin. However, we are more prone to sun damage, fatigue, and burnout on a hot day. As much as we are likely to achieve the striking cycling tan we all hope to have, we must pay a little more attention to the elements effect on our body and the gear we wear. Light-weight-SPF-proof-kits, caps, sun glasses, and a little sunscreen can go a long way in sun proofing yourself while getting the most out of your rides in the hotter seasons.
Hair and heating can be an issue. I for one have thick, heavy, and dark Latina hair, so my head tends to heat up and sweat very quickly. I'm not opposed to sweat but having a helmet with good ventilation is also key. When wearing a helmet, you can tie back hair, wear a headbands, or secure further in braids to keep it simple. If riding to a social gathering or event, take products or a comb with you to revive your style when you reach your destination. And if you find you can't tame your do, just wear a cycling cap!
Hydrating before and after a ride is always a great idea. It's a given that consuming water during a ride will keep you hydrated but it's always best to plan for the ride and recovery. As cyclists, we can be a little obsessed with the science behind our bodies functions and needs with food so we spend our energy right without bonking. In my bike touring days, I was told to stock up on electrolytes, sodium, and protein for long rides under the hot sun, so keeping keeping some food on a ride is always a good idea too.
I always try to ride hot and humid days with a slower relaxed pace. Reducing wattage and intervals is sometimes necessary which I don't mind when there is a good opportunity to just enjoy the beautiful scenery but if I'm trying to stay on top of my training, I just cycle indoors on the trainer since I don't tolerate heat very well! Keeping a good pace on a hot day can be refreshing and give you plenty of wind along the way to keep your cool.
For those who are looking for summer commuter tips, you can check out this post here. All riders are different and have their preferences but we can all learn something from each other. With that said, anyone have some experienced advice to share about cycling in hot weather? We can all use a little encouragement.
photo courtesy @ptran_no_more