Summer is here which will inevitably lead to some hot days for cycling. We’ve got a few tips to keep you cool(ish) while riding, but before we jump into our tips for keeping cool, let’s revisit some of our old high school science lessons as it is important to keep the fundamentals of heat transfer in mind when keeping cool (and safe) on a hot cycling day.
There are three ways that heat can be transferred:
- Thermal Conduction – it’s hot when you touch it.
- Thermal Convection – the air blowing on you is hot.
- Thermal Radiation – the sun shining on you is hot.
Minimizing each of these types of heat transfers will help you stay cool. For some applied science, here are our top tips on how to do this while cycling in hot weather, no matter where you might be.
- Dress for the weather! Wearing lightweight and breathable clothing not only make good packing sense, but also helps you keep cool. In fact, long-sleeves that are very breathable may help you stay cool as it also keeps the sun off your skin. Don’t forget to check out packing lists here!
- Stay Hydrated. One of the biggest obstacles with cycling in hot weather is keeping yourself hydrated. Make sure you drink fluids often. (Our support van always has extra water and on most trips electrolytes, don’t forget to take advantage of it on tour!) Drinking cool water also helps to lower your core body temperature. Check out Julie’s trick to keeping your water cool when you don’t have ice!
- Wear Sunscreen. We don’t need to tell you how important it is to apply sunscreen before you ride. Be sure not to forget the spots like the front – and back of your legs above the knee and calves, back of your neck and ears – which gain exposure due to the position you’re in while riding.
- Take a break in the shade. Seriously, it helps and will also help reduce the chance of getting a sunburn. Try to develop a shade radar and the habit of cycling under shady areas whenever possible. This is also a great excuse to pop into the occasional café for a cold beverage!
- Travel where you have plenty of opportunity to go for a dip! Last but not least it certainly doesn’t hurt to take advantage of coastal rides and go for a mid-day dip while you’re bicycle touring. Some destinations such as Greece, Sicily, and Corsica make it hard not to jump in the ocean for a quick cool down!
- Transfer heat away from you! Once you’ve finished cycling also consider implementing the core principles of heat transfer to move heat away from your body – this happens through Conduction and Convection. For example, Take a cold shower to lower your core temperature (this can help you get to sleep at night). If a shower is impractical, you can soak a washcloth in cold water and use it to cool key parts of your body. Air flow is also your friend. Even a slight breeze via opening a window, or better, open two for cross ventilation. Also be sure to avoid reflecting sunlight as that will add radiant heat.
- Stay Hydrated – again…we said it before, but it bears repeating – stay hydrated! Even after you are finished riding for the day be sure to continue drinking water. Especially before enjoying a well deserved glass of wine with dinner.