Sizzling Summer Cycling Tips
British summers can be hot. If the weather does heat up, take these steps to stay comfortable and safe. Some might seem obvious but all will help improve your training and make sportive day a much happier experience.
1. Stay Hydrated
You’ll lose a greater volume of fluid through sweating in the hot weather, so drink up. “Staying well hydrated can reduce the sense of effort during exercise as dehydration of more than one to two per cent of body mass will impair both physical and mental performance,” says Professot Ron Maughan of Loughborough University. Work out your sweat rate by weighing yourself naked before and after a ride, and aim to drink one-and-a-half times the amount you lose over the course of the ride.
If you feel full up, pouring water over your head is a good way to lower your temperature on a hot day. The water acts like instant air conditioning as you’re riding along, bringing your overall temperature down by a degree or two. Alternatively, tie a buff that’s been soaked in cold water around your head for a similar effect.
2. Wear sun cream
A recent study by Cancer Research UK has found that the number of men dying from skin cancer has doubled over the past three decades. As a cyclist, you’ll be spending more time in the sun than most people so make sure you minimize your risk. A high-factor sport-specific sun cream is ideal – it’s designed not to wash off at the first sign of sweat. If you’re riding for a long time, take some in your saddle pack or pocket and reapply when you take a break. And don’t neglect areas like your ears and the backs of your hands that might be exposed despite gloves. Also, if your jersey has mesh panels, it’s a good idea to smear it on under these too.
3. Cover your eyes
Along with looking good and delaying the onset of crow’s feet, there are other more serious benefits to wearing sunglasses when you ride. The UK College of Optometrists claims that neglecting to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays can result in permanent damage. “Sunlight can damage the retina and lens of the eye and we risk causing long-term damage to our eyesight, developing conditions such as cataracts and possibly age-related macular degeneration.” Lighter colour eyes are even more susceptible. “If you have blue eyes, take even more care to wear glasses in the sun.” Glasses also protect your eyes from wind, dust, flies and road debris as you’re riding along.
4. Dodge hayfever
According to the NHS, 20 per cent of the UK population suffers from hayfever, and when you’re on your bike breathing in pollen by the bucket load can be a real problem. Take these steps towards sneeze-free riding:
- Keep an eye on the pollen count, which is at the end of TV weather forecasts or can be found at www.metoffice.gov.uk, and, if possible, avoid long rides when levels are high.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to help to keep pollen out of your eyes.
- Rub a little Vaseline inside your nose – pollen will stick to it instead of being inhaled.
- Don’t hang your cycling kit in the garden to dry – the pollen will infiltrate the fabric and trigger your allergies.
5. Beat the heat
Heat exhaustion can ruin a good summer ride and if your condition worsens, developing into full-blown heatstroke, you could be looking at an A&E visit. Symptoms such as nausea, headaches and dizziness occur when your body struggles to reduce its temperature, which is largely controlled by sweating. If you become dehydrated you won’t be able to produce the sweat you need to lower your body temperature, and this increase in temperature can bring on heatstroke
To reduce the risk of this occurring while on the bike avoid riding if you have a hangover or if you’ve recently suffered from diarrhoea or vomiting, all of which cause you to become dehydrated. Prevention is better than cure so make sure you drink plenty of water, preferably with electrolytes, but if symptoms do occur stop riding immediately, find a shady spot, remove excess clothing and drink plenty of fluids.