Riding during the summer is uniquely incredible – the days are longer and the butterflies are out- it’s heaven. But it also has special challenges. Summer cycling could lead to overheating or overexerting yourself if you’re not careful. Luckily, we have some ideas about how to make your summer riding routine safe and fun. Here are 10 tips for how to enjoy cycling under the summer sun:
The average rider needs about 20 ounces of water per hour on longer rides. That means one water bottle probably won’t be enough unless you definitely have a place to stop and fill up. Try carrying one water bottle cage on your bike frame and keeping another bottle in your bag just to be safe. Remember that you could always decide to take a detour – or worse – you could get lost. If you have nothing else with you, make sure you’re filled to the brim (no pun intended) with a clean water supply!
Cycling in the middle of the day could deliver particularly punishing temperatures and sun exposure. When you’re bike riding in the summer, sometimes learning to be an early bird is a good idea. Get up at 7, bike for a few hours, and be home well before the noon hour hits. Or, if you absolutely need to sleep in, equip your bike with some new lights and reflectors and take a sunset bike ride near home. Any time you can avoid mid-day riding, you’ll probably beat the worst of the heat.
Holding ice directly against your skin isn’t always a good idea because it can cause blood vessels to constrict too much. Instead, pick up a cooling towel. When these are wet, wrung out, and snapped, they become cold. Rub down your arms and forehead and let it sit on the back of your neck until you’re cool enough to continue. When in a pinch, stop at a water fountain and run a regular towel underneath.
Gloves seem counterintuitive to safe summer riding. They’re a standard part of your winter riding wardrobe, but do they really belong on a summer cycling journey? Regular gloves are a no-go. But fingerless mitts in moisture wicking material are a blessing. They keep your palms from getting too sweaty and make it easier to grip hot handlebars. Mitts for cyclists are specifically designed not to absorb your sweat and many will have holes for air circulation.
When it’s particularly hot, it can be harder to cycle at full speed. Don’t assume you can beat your personal best on the hottest day of the year. It’s not worth risking a heat stroke! Instead, slow your pace accordingly when the summer heat is out in full force. Give yourself more pit stops to catch your breath and hydrate, too. You may want to take a few short, slow rides at the start of summer to acclimate your body to riding during hotter conditions.
It’s not just about hydration – when your body is sweating, you’re usually in the fat burn zone and could use some protein. Always store a few protein bars in your jersey pockets or your backpack. Some protein products even come in bite-size form, so it’s easy to pop a few back while you’re on the go without having to unwrap a bar.
If your summer bike ride is longer than an hour, you should also reload your electrolytes. Electrolytes are body minerals with an electrical charge, and they help with everything from muscle contraction to balancing pH levels. In addition to keeping water close at hand, pack some sports drinks that are full of electrolytes.
Cycling in the summer is no time to worry about showing your arms to the world. Your body needs to sweat to regulate your body temperature, and this is particularly important when it’s hot outside. If you normally wear bike pants, consider a pair of capris or shorts instead. Short-sleeve bike jerseys offer plenty of coverage while also letting your skin breathe.
Since you’re showing extra skin, sunscreen becomes even more important. Even less than an hour under the hot sun can make you vulnerable to sunburn and other damaging effects. Never ride with anything under 30 SPF, and reapply a few times throughout the day if you’re making a day trip of it. Some brands have “sport” sunscreens, which may stand up better to sweat. We can’t promise you won’t have to reapply, but at least less of it will end up in your eyes.
A cotton t-shirt is fine for a short ride around your cul-de-sac, but not so much for a longer trail ride. Cotton sops up sweat and weighs you down. Is there any worse feeling than standing around in a sweaty T? Lycra and other moisture-wicking fabrics pull sweat away from your body. It passes through to the other side of the fabric where most of it is evaporated rather than absorbed. Switching fabrics for summer rides can make a huge difference in your body temperature, so take your attire seriously.
With these summer bike riding tips and the right gear, your summer riding season with be a happy one. At sixthreezero, we not only have a slew of new bikes for men and women but we also sell city and cruiser bike accessories. From cup holders to water bottle cages and baskets, we make it easy to customize your ride. When you feel good and ride prepared – your summer will be filled with killer riding experiences instead of sweat-drenched slogs.
Are you ready to take a summer cycling adventure? Summer is the best time to explore brand new terrain. Join our Journey Club to uncover biking locations around the world and connect with other cyclists.