July 16, 2011
After a long winter up in Montana, we're pretty excited to have some summer weather. But while I love taking advantage of the warm weather, a long day in the saddle under the hot sun can really take its toll, and I often find myself looking forward to the temperature dropping back down. Fortunately, there are a lot of little things you can do to keep your cool and enjoy the summer sun at the same time. I actually wrote a post about this a few years back, but sometimes it's good to revisit an important topic such as this.
For this post, I'll check out some smaller details that might give you more freedom to ride where you want, when you want--and won't require a lot of extra effort.
1. Ice is Nice! When you stop at a gas station or convenience store to top off your water bottles, hit the ice dispenser on your way out. I like to drop a few cubes into the water bottles to keep the water cold for a few extra miles, and then toss a handful of ice cubes in my jersey pockets to help keep my body temperature down. It's nothing that will last for a long haul, but it's highly refreshing for the short time that it lasts. If you can think of it ahead of time, you can also freeze a couple of water bottles the day before your ride, and toss them in your back pocket when you head out (frozen bottles tend to rattle around a lot in bottle cages).
2. Soaking the jersey in cold water can really knock down the body temperature and make you feel rejuvenated when the heat is bearing down hard. This is a trick I picked up after moving to Montana, where the streams run clear and cold. Back in my hometown stomping grounds of Iowa, the slow moving, muddy water was a little less inviting.
3. Take your breaks in the shade. This seems super simple, but I always have to remind myself to roll a few extra feet to grab some shade under a tree while I'm taking a rest stop, or perhaps fixing a flat. Sitting stationary in the sun when you're already heating up can really hit you hard.
4. Don't forget sunscreen. Aside from limiting the risk of a nasty sunburn, it can keep your skin hydrated, which can help prevent moisture from evaporating from your skin too quickly. Sport-specific formulas are great since they don't run off too quickly when you sweat.
5. Wear sunglasses. They might not make you feel cooler, but they have the potential of making you look cooler. More importantly, they help prevent squinting in the sun; this not only improves your vision, but can actually make you feel fresher (surprisingly, squinting can take a fair amount of energy out of you over the course of a few hours).
Photo by Sarah Raz.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.