There’s nothing quite like feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your back as you power down the roads, your surroundings turning into a blur. Summer has finally arrived and we are really excited to get out on our bikes and make the most of this amazing weather. High temperatures and bright sunshine, however, can bring about a myriad of issues for cyclists, which is why we’ve put together these handy tips for cycling in hot weather. By following these simple pointers there’s no reason why you can’t have a fun and rewarding ride whilst still remaining safe and healthy.
Tip number one for cycling in hot weather – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The combination of high temperatures and intense physical effort will cause you to sweat more than normal, resulting in a greater loss of fluids. It can be difficult to gauge exactly how much fluid you have lost if your sweat is evaporating quickly, therefore the trick is to drink plenty of water but do it little and often. Take sips as you go along rather than waiting for your thirst to build as you may already be dehydrated at that point.
Recommended daily intake of water is between 1.5 and 2 litres and this should be consumed slowly throughout the day. When cycling in hot weather, however, you’ll need to increase this amount according to how far you have cycled. If you are unsure how much extra to drink, use any kilos lost during your ride as a basic benchmark and replace each kilo with one litre of water.
Keep in mind also that the body cannot take in water at the rate at which it loses it, meaning that you will need to hydrate with around 500ml of fluids around 1 – 2 hours pre-ride and then continue to hydrate during and afterwards. For longer journeys – over 60/90 minutes – adding carbohydrates and electrolytes is really beneficial, especially if you want to keep your energy levels up. Adding an electrolyte tablet to your water or buying a pre-infused electrolyte drink can help to replace any electrolytes lost through sweating.
Carrying around lots of bottles of water is extremely impractical which is why hydration packs are a popular choice for long distance cycling. There are plenty of options available on the market with brands such as Evoc and Camelbak known for creating good quality hydration solutions. If you are heading out on a shorter ride or simply don’t like to use hydration packs, make sure that you check your route and plan for stops where you can fill up your water bottle. Investing in a thermal bottle will help to keep your drink cooler for longer.
Replenish your energy
Cycling in hot weather will make your energy levels deplete faster than normal so you will need to compensate for this with plenty of liquids and the right food choices. Plenty of lean protein – such as chicken and fish – the night before your ride and then carbohydrates on the day will give you the energy that you need to perform well, even in the heat. Try out different things to see what works best for you and your body but always aim to follow the principle of ‘little and often’ when it comes to eating carbs during your ride. Sports drinks, gel pouches, bananas, and dried fruit are just some of the common choices for fuelling the body on the move.
Build up your tolerance
Given that we are more acclimatised to cycling on cooler days with plenty of cloud cover, the arrival of a heat wave can really throw off your results. Don’t be disheartened or frustrated if you aren’t beating your personal best when cycling in hot weather – it’s pretty much a given that the increased temperature will affect your performance. To counteract this, start off by slowing down your speed and cutting your distance with the aim to slowly increase these each day. Your body will be able to adjust to the warmer weather at a gentle pace rather than be pushed beyond its limits and risk injury or illness.
Ease off the intensity
As powerful as you feel on your bike, you must always remember that you are not invincible. Sweating is normal; however, uncontrollable sweating may be your body’s way of telling you that you’re overdoing it and need to take it easy. Keep your pace steady and consistent to prevent over-exertion, particularly during more challenges parts of your route.
Electric bikes are a great option for cycling in hot weather as they can give you that little extra boost to get up any steep hills and inclines that are particularly tough in the heat. You’re not getting a free pass from exercise though – you still have to pedal for the motor to kick in, no laziness here! Using an ebike such as the Pro Rider Current is a brilliant way to train your body and improve your fitness over time, slowly lowering the level of pedal assist as your stamina increases. They’re also ideal if you are recovering from injury or illness or simply don’t have as much energy as when you younger.
Wearing the right gear is essential if you’re planning on hitting the roads during a heat wave. Look out for light colours and materials with mesh panels and moisture wicking properties to help sweat evaporate more efficiently. Ventilated shoes and thin socks assist in keeping your feet as dry as possible and make you feel that bit more comfortable when pedaling for hours on end. Lightweight layers are also a good idea if you think that your ride will end later in the day or if there’s a chance of rain – no one likes to cycle damp!
Sunglasses are essential to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays so look out for pairs with 100% UV filtering. What’s more, these glasses also act as a shield against flying mud, debris, and bugs, all of which could incapacitate you in a second. You can also protect your body from sun damage by purchasing UV protection clothing, such as the cycling pieces available from sports garment retailer Garneau . Ensuring that your clothing is well fitted helps to prevent chafing and rubbing.
Cycling caps fit neatly under your helmet and help to keep the sun and rain out of your eyes when worn with the visor facing forward. Should you want to feel a nice breeze around your head, choose a helmet that has ventilation panels but still provides adequate protection in case of an unexpected dismount. Cyclists who struggle with excessive sweating also have the option of wearing gloves to get a better grip on the handlebars.
Invest in chamois cream
Saddle sores and abscesses are, undoubtedly, delicate issues to discuss but ones that have concerned or affected most cyclists at some point in time. Factor in the higher temperatures of a hot day to an already intense ride and the risk of getting these painful sores is heightened, which is precisely why prevention is key. Using chamois cream before each ride will help to prevent the build-up of bacteria and minimise friction, particularly if you are cycling in hot weather or going out every day.
Spending any time outside in the sun, cycling or not, should include the use of sunscreen. Cyclists, however, have to be more selective in their product choices than the average sunbather due to the amount of sweating and time in the sun involved in the sport. Look for a cream that has a high SPF factor and can be easily absorbed into the skin without impacting your body’s ability to sweat; a water resistant option will hold up better and not come off as easily as you sweat. Alcohol-based sunscreens tend to absorb faster without leaving any residue but may not be the best choice for those with dry skin.
Any exposed skin needs to be covered with sunscreen, including the back of the neck, legs, face, and arms. Keep in mind that the ankles and backs of the knees are heavily exposed to sunlight and so can easily burn if not adequately protected. The delicate skin on your lips is also vulnerable to burning but often overlooked so invest in a good SPF balm and reapply frequently. You’ll need to apply cream under any mesh panels in your clothing as sunlight will be able to penetrate through to these areas.
Apply your sunscreen at least 15-20 minutes prior to going outside and reapply every couple of hours to ensure that you stay protected throughout the day. Brands such as Ultrasun and Riemann P20 are favoured by cycling enthusiasts but you’ll need to shop around and see which product is right for you, particularly as some once-a-day creams can lose their SPF protection level after just 6 hours.
Pick your time of day carefully
Try to avoid cycling during the hottest periods of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm. Interval training is great for building up stamina and fitness levels but can be too intense if you are cycling in hot weather. Heading out on your bike in the morning and evening is not only cooler but usually also quieter, making for a more enjoyable ride (just remember to use lights and reflective strips when cycling in low light). If you must ride during peak times, take routes that are more shaded to give you some respite from the sun. You can find numerous cycling route planners online – including this planner from Cycling UK – to help you map out your journey and get an estimated time, distance, and calorie burn.
Watch out for dangerous road surfaces
Having escaped the perils of winter road conditions, you may think that cycling in the summer months will be easy and breezy – but this time of year comes with its own issues. Hot enough temperatures can cause tarmac to melt and become sticky, creating puddles of tar that get picked up by your tyres. What’s more, loose gravel from newly surfaced roads affects traction whilst storms can make roads greasy and slippery. Staying alert to your surroundings will help you to avoid any hazardous road conditions that could thrown you off your bike.
Allergy sufferers may find that their symptoms go into overdrive when it’s hot, particularly if there is a sunny and dry period following a summer thunderstorm. The best thing to do to avoid exacerbating your allergies is to stay inside with the windows shut; however, we know that some of you will insist on getting on your bike anyway! If you really can’t ignore the call of the roads, we’ve got a few pieces of advice which may help.
Take your medication as early as you can – i.e. before symptoms show – to prevent inflammation from occurring. Incorporating more omega 3 fats into your diet can also reduce inflammation in the body and ease the symptoms of dry eyes, so start adding some oily fish into to your meals.Where possible, plan your routes to avoid big grassy spaces with lots of trees so that you are not cycling in pollen-heavy areas. Following the pollen forecast is also a great idea as this will help you to keep an eye out for days with a low pollen count. Finally, considering investing in a good nasal pollen barrier, such as the HayMax Organic Pollen Barrier Balm.
Be prepared for emergencies
You never know when something could go wrong with your bike that you can’t fix with your own repair kit. Take a common sense approach and ensure that you always keep a fully charged mobile phone with you in case of an emergency. After all, you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere and left completely exposed under the hot sun. Add an ICE number (In Case of Emergency Number) to your contacts and always carry a form of ID so that anyone assisting you knows who to contact.
Cool down and recover
As tempting as it is to just hop straight off your bike after an intense ride, it’s super important to incorporate a good cool down routine. Take the last 10-15 minutes of your session at a more relaxed pace so that your body can cool down at a gentle rate. Steadily rehydrate instead of gulping big quantities of fluid and eat a good recovery meal – we’re talking proteins for muscle repair, carbohydrates to pick up your energy levels, and vegetables to nourish your body with vitamins. A cool bath or shower feels amazing on warm skin and helps to get rid of all that sweat and grime that you’ve accumulated over the ride.
When you have a passion for cycling, nothing can stand in your way, whether it’s hot weather, injury or age. If you’re in need an electric bike to rejuvenate you and help you get back into cycling, head on over to Pro Rider Leisure. We have a comprehensive range of superb quality mountain, city, and hybrid ebikes as well as push bikes for both men and women push bikes, all at fantastic prices. To learn more just visit our website or get In touch with our friendly and knowledgeable Sales Team on 01604 813428 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.