12 Tips to Ride Bicycle in Summer – Stay Fresh
Every time summer comes around, there is a lot of outdoor activity that is encouraged. But when it comes to cycling in the summer, there are always few important tips to consider. When i started bicycling for the first time, I decided to take my bicycle and ride without thinking about anything. Turn the clock to 2 hours later, there i was mildly orange in colour and completely exhausted! I learnt there were a lot of things to be done to actually ride in summer rather than just take the bicycle out and pedal.
Riding in the summer heat requires careful attention to the amount of water that gets sucked out of the body. This could turn out to be really difficult because if dehydration sets in, you will end up bed-ridden for days taking continuous fluids. In this article, there are 12 Awesome Tips and important ideas to be considered before riding out in the summer.
- Ride Early
- Prep your route properly
- Choose your Bicycle Properly
- Use Panniers instead of Backpacks
- Check your tyre pressure
- Pace your ride
- Choose your Accessories properly
- Protect your skin with Sunblock
- Keep yourself Fit – Exercise thrice a week at least
- Travel in groups as much as possible
- Keep an eye on the mercury
- Eat well after the ride – Post cycling Recovery is Important
As much as it sounds the obvious thing to say, riding early has got a lot of other benefits as well apart from the heat of a summer. The summer season usually is associated with long days, meaning the sun comes out pretty early in the morning but sets later in the night only. This gives a lot of advantage because riding early would still mean you ride under the sun, but not the scorching sun!
As the day begins, the temperature might soar higher, and it is just not advisable to ride under hot sun. Instead, make a small switch and start riding an hour early in the morning. Early morning rides are really refreshing and also help in providing vitamins without burning your skin. Additionally, the traffic is going to be absolutely minimal in the morning giving you enough focus to clock those kilometers.
My personal favourite is to ride along a known road in the early morning hours, this keeps you focused but at the same time, the sense of familiarity of roads does not require you to look at the GPS or the Map more often. This will also change the dynamic of the early morning rides because, it is completely different! The shops on the streets are closed, there are hardly any cars riding on the road and the fresh, crisp air on the face sets you up for the day.
Prep your Route Properly
A lot of times, you will want to try out a different route. Even though the early morning rides in a familiar route is fun(My personal favourite anyway), there are a lot of people wanting to ride different routes almost on an everyday basis. If you are one such person, then riding your bicycle in summer definitely requires some preparation before you begin to ride the next day.
Avoid as much as scorching sun as possible and begin the ride early, but most importantly plan your routes. The planning should include, all of the three tips
- Keep track of the total distance you travel. As much as riding for 50-100Kms are fun and some people wear that as a badge, it is important to understand that the sun is going to play a very important role. Always, know the distance before you begin the trip. It is recommended to keep it below 40 – 60Km on a summer day
- Try and plan your stops early. These stops are to replenish your body with fluids, especially sodium that is lost because of the sun. Plan your stops accordingly so that you don’t take too many stops or fewer ones for that matter.
- Choose your route with shade! – Riding in India is a challenge, especially because of the nature of the weather throughout the year. To actually plan the rides where there are trees and less traffic is a great option that i personally follow before riding for longer distances!
Even though the above mentioned points might not apply to your country, planning your route with at least one of them incorporated is highly recommended.
Choose your Bicycle Properly
Choice of bicycle is going to play an important role while riding in summer. Especially when you are thinking about riding longer distances, ensure you have the proper bicycle to do so.
A lot of times, people ride a fat bike in the scorching summer heat for 30-40Kms. This is not recommended at all, because the bicycle is not meant to ride longer distances. On top that, the heat is going to suck your energy out. Ensure you choose the bicycle properly, decide whether you are in need of a Hybrid Bicycle or a Proper Roadster or an Urban Bicycle to ride out.
Use Panniers instead of Backpacks
Panniers are bags that are put around the back seat of the Bicycle. These are simple and effective option if lot of things need to be carried. There are a lot of different Panniers available according to the size and the capacity required.
Backpacks are really not suitable as it can cause discomfort while riding. They cause a lot of sweating when worn during the summer and mostly you will end up having a sweaty back after a ride. Switch to a pannier instead and do not worry about sweaty back. Also, ensure that you don’t load your pannier. Carrying around a lot of unnecessary weight can also be a problem when riding in summer.
Check your tyre pressure
Summers are notorious for varying your tire pressure!There are a lot of instances when i felt that the pressure in my tyres were not proper. This was especially because, increase in the temperature cause the tyre pressure to increase also. This means that a lot of times, you will find the tyre not gripping properly to the road and skidding more often.
As a thumb rule, if you do not have an indoor parking space where the tyre can maintain the same temperature, check your tyre pressure before you begin the ride. If you have parked your bicycle outside in the heat for days together, the chances are the pressure inside has definitely increased. This would cause uneasiness when riding on the road. Ensure you reduce the pressure to at least 2-3 Psi before beginning your ride. This way, the pressure of the tyre is neither too low nor too high causing discomfort while riding.
Pace your ride
Cadence is a very important term that you have remember if you are riding your bicycle in summer. In the article, how to ride your bicycle to work without sweating, the major point of that article was to always pace your ride. Riding in summer is going to expend more energy from your body. Do not race or ride far distances without maintaining a proper cadence.
If you’re training for a race, be especially careful when doing interval training. Reduce the length of each effort, and ride at a slightly lower power/heart rate output to be safe and avoid the risk of heat stroke. You will be amazed to see how much you can ride easily when you maintain a simple cadence.
Note: One of my favourite activities to do when i feel like riding long distance is to maintain a cadence with the beat of a song. I usually have a slow to medium fast song playlist and i time my pedalling to that. This way, I don’t increase my heart rate and subsequently no sweating also.
Choose your Accessories properly
This is a must have for everyone. There is no point in riding your bicycle without proper accessories. There are a lot of times when wearing wrong accessory has caused significant damage to the body especially because of the summer heat. Choose a wrong helmet, you will profusely sweat a lot and end up losing lot of fluids. Wrong choice of your jacket can cause sunburn and end up causing bad tan lines throughout the body.
The below are thee best suggestions as to what accessories to wear when cycling in summer,
- Choose a Full-Zip jerseys. These jerseys can be very helpful especially when you want to open the zip up and let some air come in. Also, keep an eye on the material of the jersey as a simple, lightweight material with enough breathing fabric is recommended
- Choosing the best Aero helmets. There are upto 30 different helmets reviewed in this blog(Check them here) and out of all these helmets, one of the most frequently reviewed point is that, these are really good Aero helmets. Aero Helmets, lets your head breathe. The heat in the body gets released primarily through your head, if the helmet does not have vents to release this heat, then you will start sweating profusely. This causes sweat to drip over your face making a huge mess!. Choose a really good Aero helmet and protect yourself from all this mess.
- Choose a good pair of light-weight fabric pants. Another important rule is to keep your pants a bit loose than normal. I have specific summer pants that are made of absolute lightweight fabric. These Cycling pants can help in reducing the friction between your knee and reduce sweating in your lower body.
Protect your skin with Sunblock
I might come under a bit of criticism when i put this as an important pointer. Tan lines can be a kind of medal of honour for some cyclists. They do show how much you have worked out on your bicycle. But, the truth is, continuous exposure to Sun can cause lot of complications on the skin. It could even lead to skin disorders in the short term to ending up causing skin cancer.
Always have a sunblock in your kit which you can wear during your stops. This can help in blocking the harmful UVs. Don’t overdo the sunblock as it will end up dripping down your face and distract when you are trying to ride. Have any specific Sunblock suggestion? Let me know in the comments below!
Keep yourself Fit – Exercise thrice a week at least
You must be thinking, cycling itself is a workout, why do i have to work out additionally! If you are a hobbyist riding your bicycle once or twice a week on a summer, then it is advisable to keep yourself in shape by doing some basic weight training. Not a lot of the cyclist are professionals, most of them are riding only once or twice a week which is not enough for the muscles to understand and adjust to the environment.
One of the highly recommended option for hobbyist apart from cycling is to try and keep yourself fit. Exercising is a great option which can reduce the stress of a summer cycling on the body. This will also train your muscles to be tougher and does not wear you out. Fit body and good eating habits can reduce the stress on the body eventually helping in riding your bicycling easily.
Travel in groups as much as possible
This one is optional. But choosing a riding group can be a great way to start riding in summer. The group can be a good motivating factor for you and an experienced rider knows how to plan the ride properly. They set the pace for the entire ride and can reduce the fatigue if you are new into cycling.
Finding a riding group is difficult at the beginning, what worked out well for me was to connect with Local Facebook groups which were really helpful in the initial stages of riding long distances.
Keep an eye on the mercury
Whatever precaution you take, from wearing sunblock to better accessories, there is always a scorching temperature which needs to be avoided. Especially peak of summer might introduce heat waves which can cause sun stroke and has to be absolutely avoided. Keep an eye on the temperature before you begin the ride, if it is not bearable or the forecast for the day is not positive, refrain from riding that day.
There have been lot of scenarios of poorly planned rides in temperatures upto 43-44 degrees which have even proved fatal. Always keep an eye on the MERCURY!
Note: If you in the middle of a ride and you feel the temperature is unbearable, stop at once and find the nearby shelter. The route planning activity we saw at the beginning will come in handy here. If you have properly planned your route, then there will definitely be some shelter to go to. Replenish the fluids in your body and wait for the temperature to drop before continuing.
Eat well after the ride – Post cycling Recovery is Important
Once your ride ends, it’s important to charge the body with enough nutrients and especially lost sodium. Have a cold shower and lower the body temperature followed by enough electrolytes to help your body recover.
Stick to a good healthy meal which will help in nourishing the body and helps you recover faster. This is important to keep yourself away from any form of complication post riding your bicycle in the summer heat.
If you liked this tips, make sure to let me know what you felt was helpful. Ride safe in summer and keep yourself hydrated at all times without fail.