Some common sense biking tips for the dog days of summer!
1. It's good practice to wear sunscreen-such a common sense statement, but often overlooked. Make sure to get the back of your neck and tops of your ears. If you’re wearing a tank top, get those shoulders! I’m not ashamed to say I’ve used a spatula.
2. Protect your eyes- wear sunglasses. Besides sun protection sunglasses also protect your eyes from bugs and debris. Since I wear contacts, I always keep some eye contact drops with me as well.
3. Wear lighter colored clothes/jerseys, darker colors can absorb heat and make you feel hotter than you already are.
4. Water! You must drink more water during warmer days. I’m terrible at drinking water on bike rides, but I have surprised myself on the most hot/humid days. I go through my water bottle very quickly. If you are particularly prone to overheating, I’d suggest a hydration pack as well as a water bottle. Better to have too much water than not enough.
5. Know your limits, if you start to feel like the heat is getting to you-take a breather. Get into a shaded area and rest up. It’s more fun to enjoy bicycling and have fun than to try and push your limits. Use warm days to build up your endurance, but not overdo it. Take it easy so you can adjust, and overall adapt.
6. I’ve been converted to fingerless gloves-when I’m climbing up inclines and my palms are sweaty, man it’s tough to keep a grip!
7. I’ve also been converted to using Chamois Butt’r (specifically the formula for women.) My friend and I were having some unsavory effects from going on our multiple bike rides. A lesson learned: hot+sweaty=chafing…especially if you are going on longer rides or a couple rides in one day. We both give it two thumbs up- hooray for comfort!
8. Take advantage of the longer days! Going out riding in the early evening is just as nice as going out in the morning. The downside would be biking into swarms of gnats and other bugs; you may want to keep eye drops with you if you ride more in the evening.
9. Riding at night on the trail? Get a good light. There are more critters out and about in the dusk/evening hours. My friend and I were almost ambushed by a deer! We’ve almost ran into raccoons and rabbits as well. Hitting a toad with your tire is one thing, larger animals are another. You may also come across night-time runners or people walking their dogs.
10. Also, when riding at night it’s good to go riding with a friend. I know several people who frown on the idea of my biking alone-if I were to have an accident at night, there is hardly any trail traffic at all. Overall, it’s just safer-so buddy up!
I personally have a harder time on hot/humid days due to exercise induced asthma; so on those days I use my inhaler before my ride. Some people are particularly amazing riders in the heat; others need to take it easy. When you are starting out with biking for the first time, it’s good to take it easy and find your limits. Each time you go out, you can push yourself a little bit more-gradually build endurance. It doesn’t come overnight! It took me several times before I accomplished the whole Trout Run Trail last year, and I accomplished the whole loop with a riding partner to encourage me vs. riding on my own. However you do it-only one thing truly matters-that you enjoy the ride!