How to beat the heat while cycling?23 May. 2018
8 tips to stay cool on your bike
With these tips you can protect yourself from getting overheated
Summer has finally arrived and that means many rides in beautiful weather conditions. Of course, it is great to jump on your bike when the sun is shining in the sky. However, never underestimate the power of nature. You don't want to overheat while cycling. So, peruse the following 8 tips for beating the heat and you'll keep your head cool on every ride!
1. Protect your skin against the sun
First of all it is important to protect all the uncovered spots on your body against the sun. You want to be tanned when you get off your bike after a good ride. You don’t want to get sun burned and be the “lobster” of the group afterwards. Use a quality and water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Pay particular attention to the back of your neck which is especially exposed on the bike. Don’t forget your head because it is still very easy to get burnt through the vents.
Sunscreen is very important, definitely when you are going to cycle in the full sun. It protects you from sun burning, but also has a cooling ability. Did you know that the temperature of the body can stay 10% cooler when using sunscreen? So, get the bottles of sunscreen off the shelf!
2. Cool down your eyes
A lot of heat can be taken up through your eyes. Protect them just by wearing a decent pair of cycling glasses when cycling. It keeps your eyes cooler and gives you a clear view on the road at any time. Another benefit of cycling glasses is protection from dust, grit, and flying insects getting into your eyes.
3. Dress for the heat
We mean this one literally. Wear light-colored, thin, and breathable clothes. Make sure your arms (and possibly also your shoulders) are naked. The arteries in your armpits transport cool blood to the rest of your body, this makes it important to keep those parts cool.
When choosing a good jersey, choose one with a zipper that gives you the opportunity to enjoy the wind on your way. The color white is most efficient for cooling because it reflects the sun. Avoid unvented helmets because in these weather conditions the aerodynamic benefit will be small.
4. Drink, a lot!
An often underestimated fact, despite we all know it. A lot of cyclists only sense real thirst after their ride and that is too late. You gamble with dehydration and risk a fall caused by dizziness. You don’t need to make things complicated, ensure you take a good sip from your bottle every 10 to 15 minutes and you stay hydrated.
Always take two bottles with you on a ride. Make sure your second water bottle is extra cool by putting it in the fridge the night before your ride. Don’t fill the bottle fully before freezing though as the contents will expand, fill it only three-quarters. Wrap your bottle in aluminum foil to save the low temperature. Or buy a bottle like our ThermoTank, which keeps your drink cool twice as long as a normal bottle. By the time you come to drink it, it has thawed but will still be cool. You can drink it and cool your hands and wrists with it.
5. Don’t forget to eat
Hydration is definitely very important, but eating is also of the highest interest. On hot days many cyclists forget to eat because they lose their appetite. Try to avoid the bonk by remembering to nibble on a high carbohydrate snack once in a while. Recommended snacks are nuts, malt loaf, bananas and energy bars.
6. Cool yourself down (with water)
Take an extra bottle with you on your ride, because this one can become your best fellow. You can use this (or one of your general bottles) as a quick shower on a spot where water is available. Cool down the right spots when taking this ‘shower’.
Some important spots to cool down are your armpits, forearms, groin and neck/back. All spots where blood vessels lay close to the skin, those can transport the temperature to the rest of the body. Only pour cool water over these spots, avoid using ice cubes because they cause constriction in the blood vessels. This means hot blood is shooting back into your body.
7. Plan your ride
Do you want to go for a ride on a day with high temperatures? Try to plan your ride early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is less intense. It is not recommended to go cycling between 12 and 3 in the afternoon, because these are the hottest hours of the day. This also means there will be less shadow.
8. Take it easy
On a hot day you can’t maintain your normal pace or power. The faster and harder you ride in these circumstances, the harder it is going to hurt your body. So, keep your pace steady and try to keep your energy expenditure low. Take it slow, don’t charge up all the hills. But, do not only spare your energy by adjusting your pace. Also have breaks in the shade on a regular base.
When you are getting dizzy or have a light feeling in your head. Immediately step of your bike and take some rest. Don’t let the last part of your ride fool you, but listen to your body. Let your body rest a little bit, sit in the shadow and drink some water. When you feel better, you are ready to go again!
Signs of overheating
It seems overdone but overheating is a case that is overestimated by many. A lot of cyclists think this can be solved just by drinking a little bit more during their ride. Sadly enough it isn’t that simple.
You recognize overheating of your body when you muscles are starting to hurt (heat cramp). Other symptoms are a headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, red spots on your skin (heat stressing) or a pale skin (heat exhaustion).