Summer begins soon in the northern hemisphere — the best time of year for cycling. Longer days and warmer weather make it a pleasure to be out on your bike, but the summer heat brings challenges, too. We take a look at some of the best ways to stay safe, hydrated, and happy as you pedal through the warmth.
Some rules are made to be broken, but one that you should never break is the one that says stay hydrated. Dr. Richard Freeman of Team Sky Cycling says that, despite our best intentions, most amateur riders are constantly dehydrated.
“A standard rule for cyclists should be to drink a large bidon (a 750 ml / 25 ounce bottle) every hour whilst on the bike. In hot weather, though, a rider might need to consume 2 or 3 times this much. Drinks should be a mix of water and/or a source of electrolytes to keep up the levels of sodium, magnesium, and potassium that are vital to health and performance. If possible, drinks should be cold when riding in warm weather to keep the core temperature down. That’s not always possible, of course, but either way it’s crucial to keep hydrated.”
WE LIKE: High5 ZERO Electrolyte Tablets
Vegan-friendly, gluten-free Zero electrolyte tablets contain zero calories (hence the name), yet provide an excellent source of Vitamin C plus 5 electrolytes, including sodium, magnesium, and potassium. One tablet mixed with water in a large drink bottle produces a clean-tasting and highly refreshing drink without artificial colors or preservatives.
The vitamin C in ZERO supports a healthy immune system, protects the cells from oxidative stress and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Magnesium in ZERO contributes to electrolyte balance, reduces tiredness and fatigue, whilst supporting muscle protein synthesis.
WE ALSO LIKE: Polar Bottle Breakaway Water Bottle with Zipstream Cap
Polar Bottles are a Boulder, Colorado company that make some sweet gear for cyclists. Their Breakaway bottle features the new Zipstream cap, which is a self-sealing, high-flow lid that won’t leak even if it’s left upside down in the OPEN position. The bottle mouth is large enough to pop ice cubes straight into, it’s made from BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic, it’s able to go into the dishwasher and it’s freezable.
The night before a long hot ride, half-fill your bottle with water and freeze it overnight. Fill it up the rest of the way in the morning and, if your bottle is insulated like the Breakaway, it will keep you cool for hours.
If you’re heading away from civilization, or you need to carry extra stuff on your ride, a hydration pack could be the way to go. Beloved by mountain bikers the world over, these packs combine the convenience of a backpack with a hydration bladder so you can drink mid-ride and carry extra food, tools, jackets (it might be summer, but it can still get cool when the sun goes down), or whatever.
WE LIKE: Shimano Unzen 4 Enduro Racepack
With no excess straps or bulk to hold you back, this pack is specifically designed for rider comfort. An innovative and fully customizable Rider Fit Cross Harness system provides the perfect fit, free airflow and unlimited movement. Stash your essentials then fasten the harness and you're ready to go: just add water!
WE ALSO LIKE: Mission Workshop The Hauser Hydration Pack
The Hauser Hydration Pack is a robust and durable trail and hydration backpack constructed to last a lifetime's worth of rides in the worst conditions. The roll-top design allows for quick access to the main pouch, or roll it down for extra waterproofing of the lower zipper and pockets. The brilliance of the design makes it incredibly comfortable on your back in all temperatures with multiple adjustments for perforated shoulder and waist straps, and perforated back panel. The bag is 14L with a weight of 930 grams without a hydration bladder, making it a reasonably skookum bag. The American made Hauser also comes with a fully removable tool-roll and a lifetime warranty.
Arm and Leg Protection
Designed to offer protection against damaging UV rays, arm and leg sleeves perform wonderfully in warm conditions, but also offer added protection in cooler weather. Perfect for days in the mountains of hot exposed climbs and cool descents.
WE LIKE: Castelli UPF 50+ Light Arm Skins
Constructed using a polyester base, these arm skins have a UV rating of 50+. They feature clean lines to eliminate seams that can rub, and double-sided silicone elastic to make sure they stay in place. They fold up extremely small, so they’re great to stick in your pockets for your next big day on the bike.
WE ALSO LIKE: Sunscreen
Grab some SPF 15 or better sunscreen, all kinds available just about everywhere, and slather it on. If you're into one that's cycling specific, consider Brave Soldier Solar Shield moisturizing sunblock.
Summer Bandanas / Cycling Caps
It might seems counter-intuitive to wear anything on your head other than a helmet in hot conditions, but a bandana or cycling cap can actually keep you cooler, as well as soaking up sweat to prevent it from running into your eyes. They also serve as excellent sun protection for those riders who shave their heads (or perhaps just have slightly less hair than they once did).
WE LIKE: Funkier USA Cycling Bandana
Made from 100% polyester, these bandanas feature sweet designs, a sweat-absorbing front panel, a rear flap for neck protection, and super-breathable upper fabric for moisture transfer.
Soak your bandana in ice water or a mountain stream mid-ride to cool off and feel great.
Too hot for gloves? Think again. Summer gloves with short fingers protect the back of your hands from sunburn, absorb road vibration passing through your handlebars, provide grip on sweaty bar tape, and protect the delicate area on your palms should you take an unfortunate tumble.
WE LIKE: R & D Cima Gloves from Sportful
These summer gloves are lightweight, breathable and comfortable on long rides. Their minimalist construction maximizes breathability but still provides light padding and excellent bar grip, and their pull on / pull off tabs mean no Velcro fasteners are needed.
Some road helmets are specifically designed with extra ventilation for the warmer months, so if you have the luxury of owning more than one helmet be sure at least one of them is designed for summer riding. The padding inside your helmet gets pretty ripe after absorbing all that summer sweat, so make sure you purchase some spare padding strips when you buy a new lid.
WE LIKE: Kask Mojito
As used by Team Sky, the Mojito weighs in at just 220 grams and features an amazing 26 vents to ensure maximum airflow. Doesn't it just sound refreshing?
Unlike winter socks, the summertime equivalent is not there to keep your feet warm. Instead, their purpose is to prevent friction between the foot and the shoe, and to soak up any excess sweat.
WE LIKE: Assos équipeSock_evo7
The Assos équipeSock_evo7s are made from a fabric that is thin and very breathable and manages sweat really well, resulting in cooler and drier feet compared with wearing standard cotton socks. And they’re really comfy!
The aim of a technical summer jersey is to wick sweat from your skin to the outer side of the fabric, where it can evaporate. That leaves you dry, so you don't get clammy with sweat and won't chill if the temperature drops or the wind picks up. Make sure the jersey you select has a good UV or SPF sun protection rating, too.
This jersey is perfect for summer trainings on hot days. The Airform 2.0 uses HalfMoon micro-mesh to be even more lightweight and breathable. It's made with a classic, comfortable cut, and is finished with a reflective detail on the back and has a large triple back pocket with plenty of room to stash your phone, spare tube, and other odds and ends.