This is the perfect day to shout about summer cycling whilst the sun is shining bright – a welcome change from the colder overcast conditions we’ve experienced lately. Don’t get too complacent, however, as it’s important to be mindful of a few things whilst enjoying those summer rides. There’s a plethora of different cycling kit & accessories you can get suited to whatever conditions you choose to ride in, however, it’s not always easy to decipher which is essential. Here are a few things I try to be mindful of before riding out on a summer day.
On a hot summers day, you can ditch the base layer and break out the short sleeves. After all, the infamous razor sharp tan lines are a cyclists badge of honour!
This brings me nicely to my first essential: sun cream. If it’s hot, or you know the weather’s going to be at its best, it’s absolutely imperative to wear sun cream. Studies from Cancer Research UK found that the amount of men and women dying from skin cancer has increased in the last three decades, suggesting that we fail to treat our skin with the respect it deserves when it comes to sun damage.
If it’s going to be burning hot, get out before the peak hours of 12 & 3 and make the most of a beautiful sunrise.
Ditch the base layer and long sleeves; it’s easy to overheat on the bike, so be wary of what kit you choose to wear.
If it’s a cold morning, however, the sun is out, grab some arm/leg warmers and a small gilet to avoid a freezing start. I always tend to pack a raincoat as I’ve experienced how unpredictable the British weather is for the last 7-8 years, and so I just don’t chance it anymore.
Always be prepared and never make assumptions. I’ve been on countless rides & commutes where I’ve thought ‘Ahhh suns out, how could I possibly get a puncture today?’, however, then the inevitable happens; punctured with a 5-miles walk home, or the sob story call to see if your other half or family member can pick you up?
The annoying thing is when I carry a puncture repair kit I don’t get a puncture, and when I don’t carry one, I get a puncture. You can’t win!
It’s easy to get complacent when you’re out cycling. The weather can have a real effect on road surfaces whether it’s wet or hot. Be extra cautious of sticky roads surfaces on a hot day as this can easily take you out on a sharp bend or corner descent. Always proceed with caution.
As well as protecting your skin, it’s also important to protect your eyes. As well as the potential damage that can be caused, it can also hinder your vision. I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been caught out by the sun, blinding my vision and making my riding rather unsafe whilst out on the road.
Keeping hydrated is a key aspect of any bike ride, particularly when it’s hot. When you’re out riding, it’s easy to become dehydrated as the wind will dry you off, therefore, you won’t realise you’re sweating quite as much as you are. As a result of this, it’s important to keep drinking, little and often ,in order to keep your body topped up with fluids!
This, in turn, will mean you can cycle longer and you’ll deter fatigue or cramp!
Explore new roads
Use the beautiful weather as an opportunity to explore new roads, challenge yourself on new climbs and see phenomenal landscapes. You can ride the same roads all winter, so use the summer sunshine to adventure somewhere different.
Know your route
If you do choose to explore some new routes, make sure you know where you’re going. If you don’t have a cycling computer, write down the route turn by turn, in a format that you can sellotape to your top tube.
If you do have a cycling computer, be sure to upload the route the night before and double check it works. I still always recommend familiarising yourself with routes before you ride them so that you avoid getting lost or accidently taking a wrong turn.