Summer cycling – taking the heat

Blink and you might miss it. The British summer doesn’t exactly overstay it’s welcome most years, so make the most of it while you can and enjoy whatever sun-soaked cycling is to be had.

It’s easy to think that summer should be the simplest time of the year to cycle around the city – just jump on your bike and go. However, it’s definitely worth some preparation to make the most of your warm weather riding.

Keep hydrated

This might seem obvious, but many utility cyclists neglect their bodies’ basic needs. When commuting in hot weather it’s important to keep well hydrated before you set off, and then drink little and often during the journey. Don’t forget to keep drinking after you get off your bike too, as this is often when dehydration catches up with you.

Dress appropriately

One of the great things about the warmer weather is that you can just jump on your bike in shorts and t-shirt. This is fine for nipping to the shops, but longer journeys may need a little more thought.

Layering up in hot weather may seem counterintuitive but a good summer base layer will wick away sweat and allow your skin to breathe, preventing overheating. Another good idea is to have a lightweight waterproof mac stashed away in case of sudden downpours.

Cyclists create their own breeze when moving so it’s often when you step off the bike that the heat most affects you. Consider keeping a change of clothing in the office, or at least a can of deodorant.

Take it easy on yourself

Imagining you are in a great unspoken race with your fellow commuters isn’t perhaps the smartest of ideas at the best of times, and even less so in the heat of summer. When the mercury’s rising ride well within yourself, unless you want to arrive at journey’s end as a big ball of sweat on two wheels.

It might even make sense to look at alternative routes that avoid hills, or offer greater shade.

By making sure that your bike is running as smoothly as possible you can minimise the amount of effort you need to put in, helping you to arrive more fresh faced than beetroot faced. Here are a few simple tips to getting the most out of your bike.

Depending on how much you love your job, or how much you need to impress the boss, you could even think about going into the office early, or leaving late, to benefit from cooler parts of the day.

Lighten the load

Use the summer to audit the amount of stuff that is being carted backwards and forwards with you every day on your commute. Go through your bag and take everything out. Assess, organise, and discard. Not only will this lighten the load but it will make finding your keys easier too. If you have to commute regularly with a bulky item such as a laptop it’s worth looking at a pannier.

Even if you do turn up to work feeling a little hot and sweaty, spare a thought for your poor colleagues, trapped underground on an airless tube, or pressed armpit to armpit with their fellow bus passengers. At least as a cyclist, no matter how hot it gets, it’s only your own perspiration you have to contend with.

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