Siroko Tech (Spain) - Going out for a ride in the heat can be extremely dangerous if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Nice, sunny weather makes you feel giddy with excitement to go on a ride and that’s why this issue is of special concern for us here at Siroko. We had already talked about it in two previous blog posts: Advice on what to wear when cycling in hot weather, and 7 tips to keep you cool in high temperatures. In this new blog post, we’ll be discussing things you should avoid doing when it’s too hot outside, giving you advice based on personal experience, so that you can have a safe and enjoyable cycling experience when temperatures go up.
Wearing too many layers:
This is common sense, but we have to shine a light on it, because some cyclists tend to wear too many pieces of apparel thinking they might get cold, or they pack more clothes in case they might need them at a certain point. However, the truth is this excess of clothes won’t make you feel comfortable – quite the opposite. You’ll sweat more, your body won’t be able to cool down as there’ll be no breathability whatsoever, and you’ll end up dehydrating and overheating.
Using wrong clothes and accessories:
When the weather is hot, your cycling equipment should be simple and kept to a minimum: a lightweight long- or short-sleeved cycling jersey, a mesh base layer, bib shorts and summer cycling socks. You can also add the following accessories to this outfit: short-finger mitts or full-finger summer gloves, a lightweight cycling vest and summer arm sleeves, in case you have to face a long mountain descent.
Avoid: bib tights, cycling jerseys designed for transition seasons, winter jackets, leg warmers, long sleeve thermal base layers, overshoes, neck warmers, and all of that sort. Wash these garments and accessories well and keep them in a drawer for when temperatures drop again.
Going all ‘Mario’:
And by ‘going Mario’ we mean riding shirtless, something that the Italian cyclist Mario Cipollini used to do and keeps on doing every time he finds an opportunity to show off. No matter how much you also want to flaunt your chest, keep in mind that you shouldn’t practice cycling like this. Not only is it unsafe for your skin and your health, but it also leaves your body completely unprotected in case of a fall or accident.
Some cyclists take ‘going Mario’ to the extreme and ride a bike wearing just a pair of swimming briefs. This is only acceptable if you’re using the bike to go to the beach and it’s a short route. Even so, we do not recommend this. And it goes without saying: going commando is the worst case scenario.
Taking your helmet off:
It doesn’t matter how hot you might get. Taking the cycling helmet off is not only extremely dangerous but it’s also against the law. There are no exceptions, you are supposed to wear your helmet at all times. If you are climbing a mountain pass at 8 km/h and you need to cool down, find some shade or stop by a water fountain, then take off your helmet to lower your body temperature. Helmets save lives and protect from the sun.
Remember: Choose a helmet with a good ventilation system when it’s hot outside, avoid aero and time trial helmets. If you don’t have a lot of hair, make sure to wear sunscreen and use a headband or a cycling cap made of a lightweight, breathable fabric.
Not making the most of water fountains:
Unless you already know there’ll be plenty of chances to refill your water bottles along the route, you should always stop when you see a drinking fountain. Fresh, cold water is key because it can get warm quite quickly in the bidon, and a sip of warm water is not very pleasant. You could also use this opportunity to cool your body down by splashing water on your head, neck, arms and thighs. Remember not to drench yourself in water as your damp clothes won’t absorb sweat and they’ll lose their breathability properties. Plus, if the air is too humid, you should try to get as little water on yourself as possible, because the higher the humidity, the harder it will be for your body to cool down.
Doing repairs in full sun
In case of a breakdown, look for an area that’s in the shade where you can fix your bike away from the heat and traffic. Repairing a flat tire takes around 10 minutes. Doing this in full sun, without the breeze from the ride to cool you down, can be a real torture for your body as well as for your eyes when sweat starts dripping down. That is why you should always make sure to find some shade before you get down to work.
Leaving your bike outside in the sun:
If you want to stop for a cup of coffee, take a few pictures, see a friend or do some repairs, always make sure you don’t leave your bike in full sun. While on the move, the bike doesn’t get too hot (in the same way your body cools down in the wind when pedaling) but if you leave it for 15-20 minutes under the scorching sun, it will be burning hot. Take it from us: Sitting on a hot saddle or holding hot handlebars is not a pleasant experience. And this is only the surface, because there’s so much more you might not feel or see, such as damage to the tires, cables or drivetrain, which can only get worse if you leave the bike repeatedly in the sun for too long.
Melted chocolate mess:
Chocolate is that sweet little treat that turns into your worst enemy when the temperatures rise. As the sun hits your back and your rear pockets, any chocolate snack you have on you will melt away before you know it. When you open that chocolate bar, you’ll find a bunch of hot, sticky mess. Or even worse, imagine it burst open inside the pocket…
Other types of snacks we do not recommend are: soft cookies (they crumble), dates (they get sticky), bars or snacks with any kind of honey or syrup (they get gooey), ripe bananas (the heat makes them even softer and they get mashed inside the pocket), P&B sandwich (it turns oily and sticky, and it’s also hard to swallow without quite a lot of water), among others.
These have been all the mistakes we have experienced in our cycling adventures. If there’s something else you’d like to share yourself, feel free to leave us a comment so that we can all learn something new, and maybe have a laugh. Remember that cycling in the summer or when the temperatures are high can be quite a challenge, but it is also a great opportunity to enjoy the sun and have fun. Just make sure you don’t melt down under the heat and keep a positive attitude. Wear sunscreen, get hydrated and hop on your bike with a big smile on your face.