If you’re a serious cyclist, the summer means one thing and one thing only, time to get your bike out. As any serious cyclist will agree however, with the gorgeous sunshine comes an increased risk of dehydration and fatigue. And this means that a little bit of extra caution is therefore very much required.
Here are eight straightforward tips for keeping cool and safe while on your bike this Summer.
The first rule of Summer cycling is, of course, that you must keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration is not only uncomfortable, left long enough, it can become downright dangerous.
Never get on your bike without first drinking plenty of water and as you ride, top yourself up at least once every twenty minutes. It’s also important to carry more water than you think you will need. This is where a backpack hydration system can come in very handy.
Stock up on Electrolytes
In addition to water, electrolyte based drinks are also a very good idea. Electrolyte levels tend to drop even faster during Summer and a countermeasure is very much necessary if you want to keep your energy levels up.
While most people opt for Gatorade or Powerade, electrolyte tablets make for an excellent alternative. Contrary to popular belief, they’re sugar free and require no stirring, just pop them into a water bottle and away you go.
Replace Your Old Helmet
When the Summer sun is beating down, the last thing that you want to do is wear a heavy foam helmet. Most of your body’s heat leaves through your head and insulating it with foam is therefore obviously unwise.
The good news is that with recent helmet design improvements, it is possible to keep your head cool and safe at the same time. If it’s been a while since you last purchased a new helmet, consider investing in something lighter with a modern ventilation system.
Wear the Right Clothes
Speaking of keeping yourself cool, cycling attire has also come a long way in recent years. For a comfortable ride, invest in some lightly coloured cycling gear that utilizes both wicking material and mesh panels.
If, like many people, you’re not a big fan of cycling gear, you can still keep yourself cool by simply following the same principles. Stick to light colours, light materials and needless to say, opt for clothes that offer plenty of ventilation.
Take Regular Breaks
Regardless of how much water you drink, your body is going to tire significantly faster under the Summer sun. A willingness to take the occasional break is therefore essential. When you feel yourself getting tired, don’t ignore it.
Try to get into the habit of stopping your bike at the first sign of weakness, dizziness or fatigue. Find some shade and refuel. Cyclists, both beginners and experts, are significantly more likely to make mistakes when tired.
Avoid the Hottest Part of the Day
If your schedule allows, try to time your bike rides to the morning or evening. It might sound obvious but a surprisingly common Summer cycling mistake is to hit the road at midday when the sun is at its most powerful.
There’s no denying that cycling during the height of Summer is a pleasurable past time but you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more, and be safer, if you avoid the height of the day.
Map Your Route
If you’re cycling for pleasure and therefore have a wide choice of possible routes, take the time to choose wisely. Routes with endless stops are generally best avoided. Provided you’re constantly moving, even at a very light pace, the gentle breeze will help to keep you cool.
Needless to say, routes that offer plenty of opportunities to cycle in the shade are also very much recommended.
Wear Something Damp
Finally, a simple but surprisingly underutilized means of keeping yourself cool on a long ride is to simply wear something damp. Personally, I like to wear a damp bandana around my neck but the same principle can easily be applied to sweat bands on your head or wrists.
For added points, leave it in the freezer for a while before heading off.
About the Author: This post was written by Anthony Black; he works as a marketing executive at Reid Cycles, a well-known supplier of road bikes in Australia. A fervent writer, he provides advice on bike related issues via his blog.