When you’re out cycling in hot or muggy weather, it’s important to make sure that you’re body is well taken care of. Avoiding heat stress on your body is vitally important for your health on and off the bike. Here are some great ways to protect your body during hot summer riding:
Cyclists tend to lose as much as 1-2 quarts of fluid via sweat when exercising in hot weather. This number obviously fluctuates based on your body type, effort and many other factors. The important thing to note is that your body is losing vital fluids with every lil’ drop that goes down the back of your neck. To fight dehydration, begin drinking water, about 8 ounces, before you even suit up. While on the bike, plan to sip (not gulp) about every 20 minutes. You should be drinking 8-12 ounces of water during an hour ride and more if you ride longer. There is also value in hydrating with sports drinks, either during or after a ride, because they help replace electrolytes that your body is losing when you sweat.
There are a few ways you can plan ahead for a ride to help avoid heat stress. First, check the weather forecast early in the morning and ask yourself a few questions like “When can I fit in a ride today? What will the temperature be? What is the humidity level?” If you can avoid riding during the middle of the day or from about noon to 4pm, do it. This is when the temperature will be at it’s peak and you will be the most at risk of heat stress. Remember to wear moisture wicking gear to help keep your body cool as you ride. Light colors like white or light grey reflect sunlight. Also, avoid wearing oil-based sunblocks as these will actually clog pores and prevent your bodies ability to sweat.
Warmup & Cool Down
It’s good practice to gradually introduce your body to exercising in the heat. When you’re first adjusting to the summer weather, allow your body to acclimate by increasing your exposure and effort outdoors a little bit each day. Don’t dive in headfirst and expect your body to be okay with exercising in hot, humid weather. The same goes for individual rides – take it easy for the first few minutes so that your body can adjust to the temperature around you. When you’re finished with your ride, especially if you’ve done an intense workout, it’s helpful to allow your body to cool down before you get off the bike. You can cool down by simply taking an extra lap or two around the block at an extremely easy pace. Your heartrate will come down, the wind will feel nice and cooling against your body and your body will begin the recovery process that much earlier.
There a many more ways that you can work to make sure that your body is prepared to ride in hot weather. The bottom line of all summer riding guides you’ll find is: Understand your body, listen to it and take care of it.