How to Bike in Hot Weather

In the dead of winter, you might think longingly of blissful summer days taking long bike rides on your favorite rail-trails, but once summer actually arrives sometimes the heat and humidity make that once dreamed about activity seem a lot less appealing. With a little strategizing, however, biking in hot weather need not be avoided. Follow these tips for a safe and fun summer riding experience.


1

Start Early


Set the alarm and head out as early as possible to avoid extreme heat. Prepare the night before by packing up snacks, money, trail maps, and other items. Have water bottles filled and ready to go and clothes set out. Waking up and having all of this taken care of beforehand makes getting out the door a little less onerous at an early hour. While for some this may be the hardest part of riding in the heat, the beauty of an early morning summer day, as well as smaller crowds, should more than make up for the extra time in bed. Motivate yourself by planning for an afternoon siesta when you return.


Fontainebleau State Park, LA | Prepare the night before and head out as early. | Photo by: Conrad Lin


2

Water


Staying hydrated in the heat is perhaps the most important consideration. Best sure to bring plenty of liquids and take small, frequent sips, which helps your body more efficiently absorb water. If your bike only holds one bottle cage, consider where you might be able to add another. Don’t underestimate the amount of fluids your body needs. Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee, or sugary drinks that can dehydrate you further. Fill bottles with ice cubes that will melt as you ride to keep drinks refreshingly cool, or pop them into the freezer before you head out so they stay colder longer. Don’t pass up the water fountains. Even if you think you have enough water, refill when the opportunity arises. While at the water fountain, cool yourself off by splashing water over your head.


Sanibel Island Shared-Use Paths, FL | Don’t pass up the water fountains. | Photo by: Brian Gerhardstein


3

Clothing


Some people go with the less is more approach and opt for sleeveless tops, while others might prefer to wear long sleeves made of a cooling fabric to avoid sun exposure. What you decide to wear is largely a personal preference although opt for fabrics that provide sun protection and wick moisture away from your body. Be sure to liberally apply sunscreen and have a good pair of sunglasses. On really hot days a cap or bandana around your head can keep sweat out of your eyes, and another bandana tied around your wrist can be useful for wiping sweat off your face. A bandana soaked in cool water and thrown over your face can be particularly refreshing when you stop for a break. Nobody said this would be pretty!


2017 RTC Southern SojournOpt for fabrics that provide sun protection. | Photo by: Suzanne Matyas


4

Bike


Make sure your bike is finely tuned for efficient riding, paying particular attention to maximizing tire pressure to minimize your effort. Don’t underestimate the difference a few extra pounds might make. Do you need the rear rack and panniers? If not, take them off so that your load is lighter.


Old Abe State Trail, WIFine tune your bike for efficiency in hot weather. | Photo by: blauer


5

Cool Down


Allow time for a post ride cool down. In addition to stretching, continue drinking to replenish your body and find a shady spot to rest.

While it might be tempting to forgo a bike ride in hot weather, enjoying an early morning ride on a summer day can be the perfect way to start the day.


Legacy Trail, FLEnjoy respite from the sun in shaded areas. | Photo by: Laura Stark

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