Cycling in the Summer
“How does one ride in the heat?”
Living in the southwestern region of the United States affords itself many luxuries. However, when the months of June, July, and August come around, the norm becomes 4 o’clock AM alarms and early nights in order to fit in a sufficient amount of training. This is, of course, due to the soaring temperatures we in the southwest face in the summer months. So, the question is begged: “How does one ride in the heat?”
Here are some of our best tips to explain how it’s done.
Perhaps logically, the most important piece of advice we can stress is remaining hydrated at all times. Higher temperatures mean increased rates of perspiration, and the body’s fluids need to remain topped off in order to safely continue exercising. Aiming for one bottle of water (~500mL) per hour is a good recommendation. Additionally, adding electrolyte mixes such as Scratch Labs or Osmo can keep you hydrated by providing the body with essential ions like sodium and magnesium. We recommend as a general rule of thumb that our athletes drink one bottle of water per hour of riding.
In addition to hydration, don't be afraid to use your water to cool yourself down by pouring it on your head and back. As the water evaporates it creates a cooling effect. This can boost performance markedly on hot days because even a small rise in your core temperature can lead to a major decrease in performance.
Ventilation and thinner fabrics that help wick away moisture can be immensely useful in cooling the body off during summertime. Brands such as Primal Wear offer their Helix kit that is both aerodynamic and well ventilated making it an ideal choice for when the mercury begins to rise. In general, the less clothing you can get away with in the heat the better.
In states like Arizona, sometimes the lowest temperatures we see are 95 degrees for several months. When this is the case, it is imperative that rides are to the point and done early. It quickly becomes counterproductive to try and complete rides in excessive of more than a couple of hours any later than 9 or 10AM. Scheduling shorter rides with a specific goal (i.e., threshold intervals) is a useful tip.
No matter where you are please don’t forget to wear your sunscreen. Skin cancer is no joke and as we head into the summer months making the application of sunscreen a permanent part of your pre-ride ritual can be extremely beneficial to your long term health.
Training in the heat is far from impossible. However, riders must be aware of the inherent dangers associated with going out in high temperatures. Remaining hydrated, dressing appropriately, and being diligent about starting early make the summer months manageable.