Tips for the Australian Cyclist on Biking in Summer
Plan ahead, hydrate, identify your routes, and more tips for cycling in the summer heat.
Although people usually spend their hot summer days at the beach or anywhere near water, some would prefer cycling as a popular and healthy activity with numerous benefits.
Biking in the heat, however, comes with a set of challenges which include heatstroke, sunburn, and dehydration. It’s perfectly fine to cycle in summer, but it’s best to be prepared before you get on the road. Below, we’ve listed some tips for Australian cyclists who are looking to gear up and ride during the months of November to February.
1. Become accustomed to the climate.
You need to become used to the heat when cycling during the season. Stacy Sims, PhD., founder of Osmo Nutrition, explains that the biggest mistake cyclists make is the lack of preparation and acclimation when riding during hot weather.
Start by riding your bike during either the earlier or later part of the day when the temperature is lower. Warm-up activities like yoga or sauna sessions are also good preparation before biking.
2. Protect yourself from the sun.
There are several harmful effects of the sun on you and your body. Among them are:
The sun’s rays can damage your eyes.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can damage your retina, which oversees the capturing of images from the eye and sends it to the brain for visual recognition and interpretation. Exposure to the sun can also damage your corneas, which might prevent you from having a clear vision.
For this, a practical solution would be wearing 99% to 100% UV-protection sunglasses to prevent UV light from affecting your eyes.
The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin.
Getting sunburnt is the most common harmful effect of the sun on your skin. It occurs when the amount of UV light radiation (the skin is exposed to) overwhelms your skin’s ability to protect itself with melanin, the pigment of the skin that acts to absorb the UV light radiation before damaging it. Sunburn symptoms include redness of the skin, pain or tenderness, blisters, and even headache leading to fever.
Skin cancer is also a potential consequence of long-term exposure to sun and its major cause is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. According to the Australian Government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world. They claim that at least 66% of Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.
To help you prevent these conditions, apply sunscreen to protect you from UV radiation. Use water-resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunblock. Apply it to your skin 20 minutes before you go out biking, and then re-apply after every 2 hours. Apply some on your back, hands and arms, ears, face, especially your nose, and your legs.
It is also recommended that you wear a light hat or visor underneath your helmet to protect your face, neck, and ears. If possible, wear UV-proof sun sleeves for maximum protection.
Try to avoid biking at the sun’s peak hours, 10am – 2 pm.
The heat of the sun can damage and disable your body.
According to Australia’s Bureau of Metrology, since December 2018, extreme heat has lingered and has been impacting different parts of Australia – January 2020 being the warmest on record for Australia. Many heatwaves were recorded. As such, it is important to take note of the possible effects of heat-related conditions and how to prepare in advance and prevent them from happening.
Heat rashes are also common during the summer. These are skin rashes that occur when sweat from perspiration is trapped in the sweat ducts under the skin. The rashes are made up of small red pimples or blisters that develop in skin folds, elbow creases, neck, chest, and groin area.
The heat can cause stroke and exhaustion. According to the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a lot of heat-related illnesses – heatstroke being one of the most serious. This occurs when the body’s temperature rises rapidly, resulting in the failure of the perspiration mechanism, which ultimately, prevents the body from cooling down.
Heatstroke is life-threatening and can cause a person to collapse and die. According to Red Cross Australia, the common symptoms are:
- red, hot, and dry skin,
- a body temperature above 40°C,
- sweating stops despite the heat,
- a rapid and strong pulse, and
- deterioration of the person’s conscious state.
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person becomes extremely dehydrated due to loss of water. Symptoms include nausea, weakness, muscle cramps, weak pulse, and noisy breathing.
It is vital to hydrate to continue the flow of liquid in your body. Drink lots of fluids. Drinks with electrolytes are a plus. Bring also ice packs with you. Loosen tight clothing and stay in the shade if there are any.
3. Keep yourself hydrated.
When biking, you lose a lot of water in your body in the form of sweat. The hotter your body becomes, the more sweat you produce to try to cool it down. It is necessary to replenish that amount of water by drinking enough fluid.
Try to drink as much as 10 mls per kilogram of your body weight per hour. Meaning, a 70-kg rider needs around 70 mls of water per hour. Of course, it still depends on the degree of difficulty of your biking activity and the heat around your environment. After cycling, you might want to consume a protein-based recovery drink to help with muscle recovery.
Drinking fluids with electrolytes might be a good idea. You need to consume just enough to support body functions in biking. This will prevent heat-related issues (such as cramps) without overwhelming your body. For optimal support to your body, electrolyte intake must be in moderation. Sims also recommends eating watery fruits prior to your biking activity.
4. Plan everything!
Organise your biking route. Where will you make stops? Know where the water stations, cafés, or shops are located in advance. This is so you can take regular breaks to refill your water bottle or to simply refresh your body. This will also save time and energy. Take routes with more shade if possible, and choose those that offer a short cut home in case the heat becomes intolerable.
Skip the roads with many holes or bumps. Also, note that summer brings a lot of road conditions to be wary of. Tarmac melts during the hot season and may cause the presence of puddles of slippery or sticky tar that may endanger your safety. Riding in an unstable surface would also mean potential damage to your bike.
5. Bike choice and accessories
Biking during summer needs preparation, including choosing the ideal type of bike and the accessories that come with it.
Know the appropriate bike equipment, gear, and accessories to suit your summer adventure needs. Get expert advice from our sales team at Stead Cycles as you plan ahead a great Aussie summer while biking through the best routes in NSW. Call us today on 4966 2141 or visit us at 29 Landor Street, Beresfield NSW 2322.