The summer is upon us. Cold drinks, swimming pools, and high temperatures. Riding in sunny and hot conditions is great for morale, and it also presents some tough riding conditions. When it gets scorching, you need to get prepared, do not get caught out. Below are some tips on how to cope with riding under hot conditions.
Clothing is the first protocol even before setting out. You need to dress appropriately for the weather. Experienced rider or not, you want to have a lightweight jersey with a full-length zip. For the bottom part of your riding gear, you may want to consider a pair of shorts with a minimal bib strapping. This jersey and short combination guarantees lots of air circulation even at lower speeds. Whenever you feel hot, zip down for more air. For clothing, there are different types of fabric available to riders. There are also special fabric treatments that boost heat management. Hot conditions go hand in hand with exposure to Ultra-Violet (UV) rays as well. There are riding gears that come with U.V protection. In case you do not have any protection against the sun’s U.V light, especially when you are wearing the meshed jersey, I would recommend that you apply some sunscreen lotion on your back before suiting up. If the sun is scorching, you may want some arm and leg warmers to protect the skin on your limbs.
Sweating is the human body’s natural cooling system. Sweating is healthy; however, the more you sweat, the more water your body loses. It is therefore essential that you hydrate regularly whenever you are on the road. Depending on the distance you intend to cover, it is ideal to always have with you two 750ml bottles of water. It would be a good idea to have something other than just plain water in your bottles, particularly on hot days. You can make some use of electrolyte tabs; that you dip into your water or sachets of calories in gel form. The best thing about electrolyte tabs is that you can smuggle your stash into your biking routines. This enables you to drop a tab into your drink as you refill it on the go. It is also important that you familiarize yourself with the route you intend to use. Make sure that you know the towns and villages that can act as your water re-fill stations. You do not want to venture into the wilderness without any water or any means of refilling in the case that you run dry. It is also crucial that you pay attention to your body. The human body is very effective in alerting you when you get dehydrated; this is through thirst. Make sure that you sip a little water from time to time so that you do not get thirsty.
Always have with you two water bottles
- Recognize your warning signs
When the body is forced to work in extreme conditions or platforms that it is not used to performing in, the body may suffer fatigue. This fatigue is known as stress. Some of us are not used to exposure to the sun for long periods; this can cause heat stress. The symptoms of heat stress include nausea, increased heart rates, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, and body or mental weakness. Make sure that you pay attention to these signs and never push through them. When your body is trying to tell you something; you are supposed to listen. Do not be afraid to stop, sit down somewhere cool and rehydrate before you carry on. Here is a minor tip that could save you from heat stress. Whenever it is safe, ride under a shaded area. When your route meanders into a forested area, you may notice that some parts of the road lie under a shade cast from tree cover. If it is safe, ride under the shade.
- Apply sunscreen
Through regular riding, other cyclists may pick particularly peculiar tanning. It is imperative to apply sunscreen, especially in the peak of summer. Apply some sunscreen to all the areas that are exposed to the sun. Some jerseys do not offer any special protection from the sun. If this is your case, make sure that you apply some sunscreen under your gear. You may also want to take extra care when you are first emerging from your winter cocoon, and you are getting sun exposure for the first time. I would recommend getting a sunscreen lotion that is specific to your skin type. Also, ensure that the skin lotion is waterproof as well. You can also get a smaller pack for your jersey pocket so that you may reapply on those particularly hot and epic rides.
- Timing and location
If you are riding for an event or race, you may not have control over the time of day; but if you are riding for leisure or training, then you need to take consideration of the time that you ride. Try to make the most of the time when the atmosphere is cooler. Location is also important, so pick routes that have maximum shade. Also, avoid long slow climbs that have no cooling effect.
- Train for the heat
In the case that you are supposed to travel to an event or race at a hotter location, it is essential to train your body to acclimatize with the climate that you expect. You can achieve this training by riding on the indoor trainer (the stationary bike). Your goal is to get your body used to sweating and handling heat stress. If you turn the heat up in the room and ride at a moderate intensity, you should start sweating. As you sweat, do not forget to hydrate regularly. Training sessions like these will prepare your body for hotter climates.
Always remember to keep your body hydrated, dress appropriately, train for the heat, always protect your skin and choose your location wisely.