Njinga's top tips to help you ride better in hot weather conditions.
Summer is on its way, and as a cyclist, there's nothing better than hitting the open road on a hot, sunny day. However, riding in hot weather can also pose some unique challenges, from staying hydrated to protecting your skin from the sun. Here are our top tips to help you ride safely and comfortably in the heat.
One of the most important things to remember when riding in hot weather is to stay hydrated. You can read our full guide to hydration here
Aim to drink at least one bottle of water per hour and always add an electrolyte mix to your water to help replenish sodium and other important minerals lost through sweat. We highly recommend Elete.
In terms of nutrition, be sure to eat a balanced meal before your ride, and bring plenty of snacks to fuel your body during your ride. Good options include dates, shot blocks, and fruits like bananas and oranges. If you struggle to eat at the beginning of a ride then consider having an isotonic drink with a combo of electrolytes and sugars for energy.
Need more info on nutrition? Check our our comprehensive guide.
When planning your route for a hot weather ride, consider choosing a route that offers plenty of shade and/or has water fountains or rest stops where you can refill your water bottles. Avoid routes that are exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time, especially during the hottest part of the day.
And where you have the choice, always choose to ride on the shady part of the road.
If you are doing an event, then consider a recce of the route and read reviews on forums and from cyclists who’ve done the route previously to understand how local weather conditions might affect you. Know when and where the climbs are coming on your route so you can dial in your nutrition accordingly.
Choosing the right clothing is important when riding in hot weather. Good quality sunglasses and a helmet with air vents are a given. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics that wick sweat away from your body, and wear light colours to reflect the sun's rays (avoid black cycling jerseys, they may look slimming but they heat up quickly).
Wear a lightweight cycling cap or bandana under your helmet to keep sweat out of your eyes. Wear breathable lightweight socks and shoes and of course leave the overshoes at home, aero gains won't be worth anything if you over heat.
It's important to pace yourself and avoid pushing too hard too soon. Start your ride at a moderate pace, and gradually increase your effort as your body adjusts to the heat.
Take breaks as needed, and listen to your body if you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy. Whenever you take breaks, look for shade.
Protecting your skin from the sun is also crucial when riding in hot weather. Be sure to apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to any exposed skin, and reapply every two hours. Consider wearing arm sleeves or leg sleeves to provide additional sun protection. Always remember to put some on the sides and back of your neck and ears. One place riders forget is behind the knee section which is generally sensitive to sun as it does not normally get much exposure.
Avoid putting sunscreen above the eyes and forehead, your cap should help here, and you don’t want a lovely mix of sweat and sun lotion getting into your eyes.
Also very important to get a water-resistant lotion that is not too thick so if you pour water over yourself you don’t lose the effect. We tend to favour Reimann P20 SPF30.
Monitoring your heart rate is another important factor to consider when riding in hot weather. High temperatures can increase your heart rate, so be sure to keep an eye on your heart rate monitor and adjust your effort accordingly.
If in doubt and your heart rate is elevated, slow down and considering stopping in the shade for a few minutes.
In conclusion, riding in hot weather can be challenging, but with the right preparation and precautions, it can also be a fun and rewarding experience.
Stay hydrated, plan your route wisely, choose the right clothing, use sunscreen, pace yourself, and monitor your heart rate, and you'll be well on your way to a safe and enjoyable ride.
For more help on improving your cycle, check out our new 8,12 and 20 week training plans in the Njinga Cycling Academy.