Jul 10 2012
Hot enough for ya? If you live in North America, chances are good that the answer’s yes—and then some. But does this mean you’re condemned to spend the summer confined to an air-conditioned cage? No way. The open road is calling, and cycling is a great way to beat the heat. After all, you’re generating your own cooling breeze as you roll along. That said, the combination of oppressive heat and high humidity can be a killer. So it pays to take precautions. Luckily, these are pretty straightforward, at least for cyclists who enjoy good general health. Just…
- Drink enough to keep the fluid flowing. Plain water’s fine, by the way. Have plenty of full bottles on your bike.
- Choose a light-colored, breathable jersey.
- Consider wearing arm coolers. (These are loose-knit, light-colored versions of the more familiar arm warmers.)
- Keep off the mean streets. Whenever possible, take the road less traveled—preferably one lined with shade trees.
- Ride with a buddy. A friend in need, and all that.
- Unless you’re an Englishman (or a mad dog), stay out of the midday sun.
- Pay attention to the sky. Summer storms can also be killers.
- Heed any air quality warnings. If you ride, you’ll have to breathe, deeply and often. Why poison yourself?
- Unless you’re being paid to race, ride at a comfortable pace.
Most important of all, listen to your body. If you start feeling woozy, if you feel like you’re going to throw up, if your sweat glands run dry, or if it’s been hours since you last had to piss, it’s time to take a break. Look for someplace shady and cool. Stop. Take a couple of pulls from your water bottle. Now chill out and watch the butterflies flutter by. Don’t get back in the saddle till you’re feeling good again. And what if you don’t feel better after you’ve had a break? Then it’s time to get checked out. Don’t be shy. Dial 911 (or the local equivalent). Treating serious heat illness is something that’s best left to the pros.
Such emergencies are rare, though. Happily, most problems are minor, and easily dealt with. If you hair is getting thin on top, for example, just wear a cap under your helmet. (You can soak the cap in water, if you want. There’s no better way to keep a cool head.) Or use a bandanna as a sun-shield, either knotted into a loose cap or draped down over the back of your neck. In short, let common sense be your guide. Your body will tell you when you’re doing the right thing. You just have to pay attention to what it’s saying.
The upshot? There’s no better way to beat the heat than cycling down some shady lane, just fast enough to raise a breeze but slow enough to smell the flowers. No, I tell a lie. There is a better way. Messing about in a boat. Followed by a swim. Or—and this is the best way of all—combining all three things in a real amphibious adventure. But getting on your bike is always a good first step.
- “What I Look for in a Summer Jersey”
- “The Mt. Borah Micro Cycling Jersey—They Don’t Come Cooler Than This”
- “DeFeet Armskins: A Really Cool Idea”
- “Cool Comfort: The Ecstasy of DeFeet”
- “In the Heat of the Day”
Questions? Comments? Just click here!