Summer is on its way in the northern hemisphere and if there is one thing I know it's got to be survival on a stinking hot day. We have plenty of them where I come from!
It's not truly hot until you hear the crackle of gas escaping from bubbling bitumen as your tires roll along. Cleaning your bike requires scraping the flecks of tar kicked up from the road off your down tube. Oh, and you lose a couple of kilograms in fluid loss. (Damn...a day later and it's all back on again!)
So, if you experience any of this, here are some tips and tricks for you to aid in survival:
Easy: get one with lots of vents and don't buy black. Simple. Even an exercise as potentially mind numbingly boring as road riding apparently uses lots of thinking power, and thinking creates heat, and it has to escape somewhere.
Seriously though, we radiate a lot of body heat through our heads which is why you want lots of ventilation in summer (and why it's a good reason to wear a skull cap in winter).
Modern bicycle helmets use reinforcing membranes made from kevlar and even carbon fibre in order to make the helmet as light and strong as possible while also allowing for large open vents.
Example Giro Atmos, MET Sine-thesis
2. Lightweight summer jersey
Pretty obvious, but a couple of features to point out...
Get a jersey with a full length zip. It may sound like a small thing but can make all the difference when it gets really hot, then you can unzip all the way and flash your beautiful bib knicks to the world.
You could try a sleeveless jersey, but just remember to apply plenty of sunscreen. I live in one of the hottest places on earth and not many people ride sleeveless because of the lack of protection it offers.
Look for jerseys with not only technical fabrics (which most have nowadays anyway) but also with mesh panels. These are often placed down the sides or rear quarter of the jersey and further aid in cooling down a hot body. The body radiates a lot of its heat from the kidney area as well, so allowing this function to work unimpeded is important in avoiding overheating.
Example Asso Uno jersey, Louise Garneau mondo evo, Primal XO Element
3. Lightweight summer socks
Is there anything worse in the average human life than slimy sweaty toes? No, I agree, there isn't.
Pure cotton socks are the natural choice but can be a nightmare when riding because they don't breathe. The best way to avoid slimy toes is to get technical socks made from materials like coolmax, which breathes and allows your feet to remain dry even on the hottest days.
4. Sweat catcher or headwear
Headwear is essential in hot climates. In many places, for example the tropics, the summer months have the highest rainfall and it comes on suddenly: torrential downpour one minute, sunshine the next. In these conditions, headwear can stop the flood of sweat laden water pouring from your hair line into your eyes.
I was riding the trails with a mate on an absolute scorcher a while ago and, although it was hot, constantly moving on the bike kept it bearable because of the wind flow....until he snapped his chain.
As we attempted the repair we were both nearly incapacitated from the amount of stinging sweat running from our brows into our eyes (it was extremely hot). The job was almost impossible...
When this happens you need a sweat catcher or head band designed for cycling. Sweat catchers may sound like a gimmick, but they work and would have made our job easier on this stinker of a day.
5. Rain jacket
While talking about the tropics...I live in a sub-tropical region, infamous for sudden storms with heavy rainfall, wind and hail. These summer weather conditions are best avoided on a bike, but if you're determined...I would advise a lightweight, breathable rain jacket with a Gore-tex or similar lining. It won't stop hail, but it will keep you dry and most importantly help deal with your own sweat.
Slimy toes are bad, but so is the collection of sweat on the inside of a jacket that doesn't breathe well. Spare no expense on this essential piece of equipment.
Example: Castelli Sottlie jacket, Axiom storm shell
6. Hydrator with air flow back
Sometimes a hydration back pack is the only thing that will hold enough fluid to prevent dehydration. On a road bike you can carry money and pop into any corner shop, or help yourself to a neighbourhood tap...it's not so easy in the bush...not many shops (or taps).
Look for a pack with an 'air flow' back which, as the name implies, allows air to move more freely between your back and the pack. No more sweaty back.
Example: Camelbak MULE, Deuter Hydrolite 2.0
Everyone knows sunscreen is good. The only thing I have to say is don't put any above your eyebrows. Figure it out.
Let us know any other tips or tricks to staying cool in summer... Share your experience with our readers in the comments below: