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Hot weather biking tips

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Hot weather biking tips

Old 06-26-21, 02:19 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
I'm sure this is a regular topic here but I haven't seen a thread recently so here goes..

I have done lots of suffering in hot weather and as I got older I found I would just bail instead of going out. But I'm trying to counter that with more planning. Here is my current list of things I am trying.
  • Biking early, and if that is not possible, biking at night. I'm not an early bird but I am working on getting up early for biking. Today I made it out the door at 8:30AM which is still a lot cooler than a couple hours later. But if I had gotten going at 6AM it would have been 5-10 degrees cooler still.
  • Using an insulated water bottle with ice. I just started doing this, it is surprising how nice it feels to take a drink of ice water!
  • Bring an extra bottle of ice water to squirt on yourself, in particular on the head. Thought about doing this but have not tried yet.
  • Pick routes with more shade and more valleys. Shade is at least 10F cooler than the sun, often more.
  • Super lightweight biking gear. I just got a jersey and shorts designed for very hot weather, it is almost see-through. I'm not sure this is really worth it though, it doesn't seem to make a large difference. Or maybe it is just hard to tell. Do be aware that thin jerseys on sunny rides may need sunscreen under them.
  • Easing up on heavy intervals in the sunny parts, saving them for more shady or cooler portions of the ride.
So far I have mostly managed to keep riding, but the hottest days are not here yet. Let's hear some tips!

EDIT: new tips I missed and ones from the comments below:
  • I left off one of the most important ones for me, staying hydrated! I really screwed up on this a few times, the body loses an immense amount of water in the heat. Now I can tell if I am dehydrating by looking at my heart rate, it is a notch higher than it should be when I am dehydrated. Of course the goal is to never get to that point.
  • Stay off of roads with lots of stop lights in the sun. You fry just sitting there with no convective cooling.
  • Long, steep uphills all in the sun are also not good for a similar reason.
  • Plan rest stops where you know there will be shade.
  • Water and/or ice around your neck: ice in a bandana, cold cloth around your neck, etc.
  • Re-stock up on ice (and fluids) at convenience stores.. use the ice advantage for the whole ride, not just the first part.
  • Wear a well-ventilated helmet.

Maryland is hot and humid in the summer. When I lived there I would go out at 5am this time of the year. Yes the comments about riding in more shaded areas are good advise. Add some electrolyte powder to your water bottles. Don't try and ride full on. In heat and humidity, I try to keep my heart rate at not too much more than 80 percent of max. Remember that there is a lot of ozone in the humid summer air and it will be harder to get good oxygen
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Old 06-26-21, 04:40 AM
  #27  
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For a few years I've stuffed frozen Mylar bladders of water in my middle jersey pocket. Keeps my back cool while it's thawing, then I drink it once it's thawed. Weighs very little empty. Fits a jersey pocket better than a standard water bottle.

I usually carry two 24 oz Camelbak insulated bottles, one of which is frozen. By the time I've finished the first chilled bottle, the second has thawed enough to start drinking. Electrolyte mixes seem to keep it frozen or chilled longer.

Occasionally I'll substitute a double wall stainless steel insulted bottle, which takes the same drinking lids as my Camelbaks. While it is much heavier, it's nice having an icy cold drink four hours into a long ride. Same with hot drinks on long winter rides.

Hydration backpack. I avoided that for years, but got one last summer while prepping for a century ride. I wore it on the hottest day of last year when the temperature peaked around 115F. I bailed out early and finished with only 50 miles, but still had a little water left in the 2-liter backpack, after finishing both 24 oz bottles.

And the hydration pack water stays cool longer. There's a little padded insulation, which helps. This year I've used it more often for running, jogging and walking, usually 5-10 miles, and often stuff one of those gel ice packs inside in addition to the water bladder. While I debated whether the ice pack was worth dead weight, in actual practice it was worthwhile. If I was absolutely desperate to ditch dead weight, I might find a trash can or dumpster for a warm ice pack. You can buy gel ice packs for a dollar so it's no big deal.

And the hydration backpack has plenty of pockets and pouches, so I can carry less stuff in my jersey and shorts. The inside pouch stays cool because it's next to the chilled water bladder (and gel ice pack if I use that), so it's good for energy gels and snacks that otherwise melt in the heat. Seems like a little thing but it's not unusual to suffer a loss of appetite when overheated, so a cool energy gel might seem more appetizing.
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Old 06-26-21, 09:36 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Fox Farm View Post
Don't try and ride full on. In heat and humidity, I try to keep my heart rate at not too much more than 80 percent of max. Remember that there is a lot of ozone in the humid summer air and it will be harder to get good oxygen
My heart rate can be 5-10bps higher for the same effort if it is really hot. So for me I'm not keeping the heart rate lower, but trying to not let it get higher than usual. In the end that does mean I need to ease off sometimes.

In general having a HR monitor I consider a must-have on a hot day, if I forgot it I will turn around and get it. Along with avoiding over-exertion it also helps me monitor dehydration. When I originally got the HR monitor I wanted to make sure I was in the right zones, but now it is more important as a monitoring tool.

Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
For a few years I've stuffed frozen Mylar bladders of water in my middle jersey pocket. Keeps my back cool while it's thawing, then I drink it once it's thawed. Weighs very little empty. Fits a jersey pocket better than a standard water bottle.
I don't like having anything on my back since it tends to give me cramps on longer rides, so I have been avoiding the Camelbaks. But this sounds like something that might work for me since the weight is less and it is not on my shoulders. I have one of those flat bladder-type bottles, will have to give it a try!
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Old 06-26-21, 10:19 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
I don't like having anything on my back since it tends to give me cramps on longer rides, so I have been avoiding the Camelbaks. But this sounds like something that might work for me since the weight is less and it is not on my shoulders. I have one of those flat bladder-type bottles, will have to give it a try!
Yup, I had the same concern. I have chronic back, neck and shoulder pain from old injuries, so I'm wary of carrying more weight on my torso. But the hydration backpack turned out to be tolerable.

Also, there are various designs of hydration backpacks, including waist packs to get the weight lower, and even a short-lived special design intended to be worn under the jersey in front, for time trials/triathlons, because wind tunnel tests showed there's a small aero advantage to a pot belly or apparel that mimics a rounded belly. That particular model has long since been discontinued but is still occasionally available as unsold new/old stock.

Well worth finding a hydration pack that fits you. Today I wore mine on a 7.5 mile jog and sprint-interval session, although I took off the pack for the track sprint session. But that was only 1.5 miles out of 7.5. Feels like temperature was around 100F even in late afternoon and I was glad to have plenty of cool water. And as I get tired the pack gets lighter from drinking.
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Old 07-26-21, 09:02 AM
  #30  
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OP here. I thought I would put out an update on how my hot weather biking has been going this summer. Overall, it is going really well! No serious overheating in quite a while.

The main new thing that has been helping me is throwing water on myself before heading out, and bringing a bottle of ice water to squirt on my front every 20 minutes or so. I can spread a squirt bottle out over maybe an hour and a half ride. This is really easy to do while riding and provides a huge benefit.

I have also been better on monitoring hydration. For me regular small sips is the key. If I drink bigger sips less frequently I can get over-hydrated. Of course I am drinking ice water only, from a water bottle with a bit of insulation.

Also I paid more attention to what road stretches were warmer vs cooler, shady vs sunny, and am using that more in my route planning. There is one heavily shaded valley road which I made the middle of my ride this morning, I got in 20 minutes of much cooler conditions right in the middle of my ride.

On really hot days, 85+, I have been doing the trick someone mentioned above of putting some flat water bladders in my back pockets. I have two 1L ones which I fill about halfway so they are still mostly flat. With these I have been able to go my usual pace and not have to ease up to avoid overheating.

Lastly I have been getting in more morning rides. Not 5AM yet, but I am at least getting out before the big heat kicks in. This morning for example it was average 79F on my ride and it will be a 90+F day today.
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Old 07-26-21, 09:23 AM
  #31  
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Some great hot weather tips in here. I am on the Gulf Coast of Florida, so some pretty hot rides for me.
Here is what I do...
Hydrate the day and night before.
Cold Water bottles.
One bottle with Scratch, one bottle with straight water.
Eat lots on my rides. Calories! I plan for a bar or something every 10-15 miles.
Start early. START EARLY!
Wear 'summer' jerseys that are light colored. My favorites are the Specialized SL Jersey, and the Rapha Pro Team Training jersey.
I have planned water stops. I.E. I plan my route, and know that I can consume the water I am carrying within x miles and stop for water at location x.
Sunscreen.
When I am cruising I spray my shoulders with water. That combined with the breeze cools me down.
Avoid the d**n storms.
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Old 07-26-21, 09:23 AM
  #32  
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Wear sunscreen, but DO NOT put any above your nose.
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Old 07-26-21, 09:26 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
Wear sunscreen, but DO NOT put any above your nose.
Yup. We all learned that the hard way.

For those of us with thinning hair, sun protection for the scalp under the helmet is important. Hence skulllcaps, which are also quite cooling.
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Old 07-26-21, 09:59 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Mattyb13 View Post
One bottle with Scratch, one bottle with straight water.
This reminds me that I also started using Skratch Superfuel on rides longer than an hour. I'm not very good about eating since I don't like stopping, but the food-in-a-bottle works for me. The last thing you want when it is really hot is to be undernourished.

Re: sunscreen, I have been doing enough shaded stretches that on many of my rides I don't even need sunscreen. Early and late rides also have the advantage of much less sun strength. I should add that my rides are usually under 2 hours, still working up to longer rides.
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Old 07-26-21, 10:05 AM
  #35  
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Wear gloves. Hands can get very wet and slippery. I prefer to not wear gloves, but when it's really hot they help to keep your grip on the bars.
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Old 07-26-21, 11:23 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Manster View Post
When it gets really hot I like to roll up ice in a bandana and tie it around my neck.
yes. One of the most efficient ways for the body to cool down is evaporating water on the skin. You can also pour water on your Jersey but I find around the head area (like the neck) to be most effective. The head radiates a lot of heat
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