Now that England is finally seeing some much needed sunshine, the team at Oliver think it’s important to explain some maybe obvious, but vital information when it comes to staying safe biking in higher temperatures. Unlike running and other non-water-based sports, cycling can surely be pleasurable in a heatwave due to increased speeds and moment helping air sweep over the rider. However, it’s important to note that this can be extremely dangerous, similar to when you’re on holiday in a windy destination, just because you may not be able to feel the sun and heat, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
“Exercising in the heat can lead to fatigue and at worse illness and injury,” warns Dr Jeffrey Aldous, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Bedfordshire. "Naturally, given this, it can also affect your performance.”
We've put together some simple tips to help stay safe while cycling.
One of the biggest obstacles with cycling in hot weather is maintaining hydration. You will sweat more as your body naturally tries to cool itself down, but that sweat will evaporate quickly, meaning that it is hard for you to gauge exactly how much fluid you are losing.
Drink little and often when riding, and make sure that you have plenty of drink with you or know of places on your route where you can obtain more drinks.
It is amazing how much drink you can get through on a hot day - drinking two full bottles during a long ride is pretty normal. The worst thing you can do is drink only when you become thirsty. Instead keep sipping from the beginning of your ride until the end. Even once you’ve finished with your ride, make sure to keep your fluids up and keep drinking!
Keep an eye on the roads
You may be used to riding in the icy/cold conditions of winder, but summer brings a different set of road dangers to be wary of. On very hot days, (much like the ones we’ve been experiencing recently,) tarmac can melt, causing patches of slippery or sticky tar as the road surface lifts off in the heat. Riding on an unstable surface brings its own dangers and obstacles and even the star can stick to your tires.
While you should be wearing suncream on any ride, nevermind just when it’s a bright day, you should take that extra time to make sure you are fully protected from the sun's rays on weeks like these where temperatures are skyrocketing to 20 degrees. Damaging sunburn and the risk of skin cancer due to excessive ultraviolet light exposure are a problem, not to mention sores from burns.
Wear cream on the exposed parts of your body: arms, legs, face and in particular the back of your neck. The position on your bike means that the area on the front of your legs above the knee and calves will be exposed to sun more than other areas of your legs.
Wear suitable clothing
With a huge array of technical cycle clothing now available on the market at a whole range of prices, there's really no excuse to be throwing on your long-sleeved winter jersey when its 30 degrees and boiling-in-the-bag. Lightweight materials will help you cool off and prevent the uncomfortable build-up of sweat.
Fingerless cycling gloves and miss are a better idea than no gloves, as sweaty palms can become sore when gripping the bars.
A well-fitting pair of bib shorts are also essential, any rubbing on your delicate parts exacerbated by sweat can cause uncomfortable soreness very quickly. Applying cream before a ride can help. Wear sunglasses with 100% UV filtering lenses to prevent damage to your eyes and stop dust, bugs and flies taking a bath in your eyeballs.
Ride in the morning/evening
There's plenty of daylight in the summer months, so heading out early or at the end of the day can still mean you are riding in the warm, but without the hazards that come with the blistering heat in the afternoon. Riding in the morning also has less traffic and more chances for you to enjoy nature peacefully while still getting your ride in.
We hope you all are continuing to enjoy the amazing weather we are having and fingers crossed, there's a lot more to come. We’d love to hear about your favourite routes to cycle when it’s sunny outside. Tell us yours and email in!