It is always lovely to cycle when it’s warm, getting lots of vitamin D and some exercise too will make you happy and content. It is also important to look after yourself in the heat therefore I have put together my top tips for cycling in warm weather.
Eating and drinking
- Take plenty of water and snacks. Snacks like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are a great choice for longer-lasting energy.
- You might not feel hungry when it’s warm but make sure you take a snack every couple of hours to keep your energy levels up.
- Isotonic drinks are good for replacing salts and minerals you lose through sweating. Drinking water is great but this doesn’t replace the other stuff you lose through sweat. Which is why you can feel rubbish, a bit like a hangover, after sweating a lot.
- It’s always tempting to have a nice cold beer on a warm day, just remember to drink water too as the alcohol will dehydrate you.
- Sun cream, reapply frequently especially if you are sweating heavily. Remember your face, ears, and the back of your neck.
- If you are a bit thin on top, then put a cap on under your helmet if it has gaps in it to protect your pate! Sunburn on top of your head is painful.
- Keep in mind that the warm wind might cool you off a bit but it masks how much sun you are getting. Too much sun can lead to burnt skin and dehydration which is never a good thing.
- Sunglasses are essential, even when there is cloud cover the glare can still damage your eyes.
Where and when to cycle
- If you know the area then go for tree-lined paths or roads and best to avoid steep climbs especially if they are in the direct sunlight.
- Go early and be finished by 11am or go later in the evening. Or go early and plan a long stop for lunch then start again later in the day. Be careful if you are in a mountainous area as the heat tends to build later in the day, therefore it just gets hotter and hotter.
- Don’t keep going if you are overheating, stop and take time to cool down. Have a drink stop and a little snooze in the shade, it will completely revive you.
- Cycle at a low cadence or tempo, so you don’t overheat. If you have an ebike, this is where your power levels will come in handy.
- If there is a lake, river or the sea. Then stop and dip your hands or toes in, just be careful doing this as if the water is too cold in extreme heat it can send your body into shock.
- Leave your bike in the shade so your saddle or frame doesn’t get too hot. Metal can give you a nasty burn if it is very hot. Plus, your bottom will not thank you for sitting on a roasting hot saddle.
- If you are riding an ebike, then try to leave your ebike in the shade. Ebike batteries don’t like extreme temperatures and could have longer-term effects on them. If you don’t have shade then take a small cover, a towel would do.
European bugs and things
- Remember in Europe we have snakes and spiders that can bite. Generally, they are not dangerous but if you are sitting on the grass, give it a good stamp down before you sit down.
- Snakes like to sunbathe on tracks as they are warm. They won’t harm you if you don’t annoy them. A quick detour around them and then you can be off on your way.
- There can be a lot of ticks around in summer in grassy and wooded areas. It is a good idea to check the spots they like to bury themselves in such as behind your knees or your armpits. A quick check of those places and sweep your fingers through your hair if you sit under a tree is all it will take to get rid of them.
- Wasps, flies, and all sorts of bugs will quite happily fly into your mouth, so if in doubt, keep your mouth shut.
Riding in the heat is an enjoyable experience just make sure you look after yourself and take your time. Photo stops, viewing stops, or just simply to stop and catch your breath is important. Find a shady place to rest and remember you are not in a race so take your time and enjoy it.