Hot Weather Tips for Bicycle Riders

— by Jeff Latimer, SABR volunteer and owner of Gus’ Bike Shop

Summer is here and while that means longer days for great rides, it can also bring hot spells.  Here are some tips to stay cool when the weather turns warm.

1. Stay hydrated.  Drink early and often to stay hydrated during your ride.  On really hot days, you can pre-hydrate by drinking a glass of water before heading out the door.   Remember by the time you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already behind on your hydration. Start drinking as soon as you start riding and take a drink about every 15 minutes during your ride.  Can’t remember to drink? Set a watch or phone timer to remind you, it’s that important.

 2. Freeze your water bottles.  On warm days some ice in your bottle can keep things cool, but for a really hot day you can freeze a partially full bottle before your ride.  I usually fill my first bottle about 1/4 full and my second 1/2 full and pop them in the freezer over night.  Top off the bottle with fresh water in the morning.  By the time you get to the second bottle it might not be cold, but it should at least still be cool.  You can extend the life of your ice by using an insulated water bottle.   Don’t have one of those?  Go old school and cover your bottle with an old sock. When it’s hot outside, the phase change of the water evaporating from the sock will cool the water in the bottle dramatically.

3. Believe it or not another old school trick used by early racers was placing a cold cabbage leaf under their cycling cap.  I’m not a big fan of wearing salad, but I do like to soak a cotton cycling cap in cold water and place it under my helmet on long rides.  Refresh it when you stop to refill your water bottles.

4. Soak a bandanna in cold water and wrap it around your neck to help you stay cool.

5. Hose off at stops.  I once went on a ride outside of Austin, TX on a blistering hot day.  We pulled under a water spigot that was used to fill the water trucks that would do dust patrol on the gravel roads.  Grabbed the handle and got a short powerful shower.  The evaporation from our kits kept us cool for the next hour!

6. Add electrolytes to your water.  You’re not only burning calories on a ride, you’re plowing through your body’s mineral stores as well.  Adding electrolytes to your water will help keep you going.  You’ll find these in many flavors from brands like Nuun and Hammer.

7. Wear light colored clothing.  That’s easy for jerseys but you might not want to wear light colored shorts while riding your bike. There’s a reason cycling shorts are black, road grit doesn’t show up on them.  No worries, check out bike shorts with “Cold Black” fabric that will help you stay cooler.

Hope these tips help you stay cool on your rides this summer.