Expert tips for cycling in a heatwave

When it’s incredibly warm outside, sticky train carriages and roasting car interiors are not the most appealing.

Instead, a bike can prove a breezier alternative for travelling during the summer months

However, exercising in the heat can come with its own risks – so it’s important to stay safe.

Cycling expert and owner of Sprockets Cycles Craig Paton has shared the main hazards to watch for when cycling in hot weather, and how to address them.

Below are some things to keep in mind during a heatwave.

Be mindful of bike maintenance

Cyclists tend to spend less time on their bikes during the winter months. So when summer rolls around, bikes aren’t always in the best condition.

As a result, it’s vital to regularly check your bike when using it more frequently during the summer months.

Craig says: ‘Make sure your bike is serviced and checked regularly to make sure the tyres are in good condition and the brakes are in full working order, to avoid any possible accidents.’

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important for regulating body temperature and promoting cell health – but also for concentration.

So if you’re dehydrated, your reaction time for hazards might be slower – putting you more at risk.

‘You should be drinking water every 15 minutes during your ride, as heat exhaustion and dehydration can result in you fainting and falling off your bike,’ explains Craig.

Think about shade

It’s only natural to want to cycle on shadier routes during a heatwave – but Craig explains that you might need to compensate with what you wear, as a result.

He says: ‘If you’re avoiding cycling in the heat and choose to ride late in the evening or in areas of shade on the road, then be aware that drivers will struggle to see you if your lights are off – or if you’re wearing black or neutral colours that blend in with your environment.’

Craig advises wearing reflective clothing and to keep your lights on, to maximise your visibility.

Watch out for sunburn

The cooling effect of the wind when cycling may result in you not noticing when you’re getting sunburnt.

So don’t let the breeze lure you into a false sense of security.

Craig says: ‘To avoid this make sure you wear a sweat resistant SPF sun cream and cover up as much as possible in lightweight layers.

‘Pay particular attention to protecting your calves, knees, and the back of your neck, as your position on your bike means that these areas are more exposed to the sun.’

Be cautious of sweat sores

To avoid sweat sores, wearing the right kit is essential when cycling long distances in hot conditions.

Craig says: ‘Wear a lightweight synthetic base layer and padded shorts, however, make sure you buy the right type of kit for your discipline and always get the correct fit – you don’t want any unnecessary chafing.’

Don’t overdo it

When temperatures heat up, it’s a good idea to slow things down – to give your body a break.

Craig explains: ‘Try to avoid burnout by cycling all day in hot temperatures – however tempting that sounds. Staying out for too long on your bike in hot weather will put a strain on your body as energy wise it has to work harder. 

‘This is especially true if you aren’t a regular cyclist, as the joint stresses of the heat and more exercise than you are used to can result in injury and exhaustion.’

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