Top 10 tips for cycling in hot weather
A cycle ride in the summer is something we all look forward to, but the combination of heat and strong sun can make any ride less pleasurable. If you are doing a longer or more demanding ride – in hills, for instance – it could result in a number of health conditions; for example, you could be affected by heat exhaustion, heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration. The following advice will help ensure you stay healthy and enjoy your ride in the sun.
1. Stay hydrated
Cycling in the heat will mean you sweat more, so you will need to drink more than normal. Don’t wait to feel thirsty to have a drink: drink water little and often throughout your ride. You can also aid your hydration before you even start cycling by drinking water and eating a good breakfast.
If you’re feeling dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice. These are much more effective than large amounts of tea or coffee. Fizzy drinks may contain more sugar than you need, and may be harder to take in large amounts.
2. Use sunscreen
Use a sweat- and water-resistant sunblock with a high SPF factor – it offers the best level of protection. Cyclists often forget to use sunblock on the back of their necks and ears, and if you’re not wearing gloves the back of your hands is another area that will get a lot of sun. Don’t forget to reapply your sunblock every few hours.
New members joining Cycling UK today receive a free ‘Summer Essentials’ kit worth £16.99, which includes a roll-on Pelotan sun cream and a mini Smidge insect repellent.
3. Dress for the weather
Wear lightweight clothes that will keep you cool and comfortable in the heat. This could be loose-fitting clothing or more technical gear with sweat-wicking properties or UV protection. Fingerless cycling gloves can help prevent sweaty palms from slipping on the handlebars. Thin socks and vented shoes will help to keep your feet cool.
4. Protect your eyes
Protect your eyes from the glare of the sun with a good-quality pair of sunglasses with 100% UV filtering lenses. This will also help prevent dust and insects from getting in your eyes and spoiling your ride. Avoid rubbing sunblock too close to your eyes as it can irritate them.
5. Wear insect repellent
Warmer weather tends to bring out insects like midges and mosquitoes, particularly in damp and still conditions. Invest in a good-quality insect repellent and when required use on any uncovered skin. Being eaten alive by midges can ruin any camping trip, so if you’re touring or bikepacking in midge-prone areas make sure you pick a camping spot away from shady, damp areas, cover up your skin and pack a head net.
6. Check for ticks
If you’re riding off road, be aware of ticks which are active in warmer weather and prefer shady, damp conditions including woodlands and moors. After a ride, brush down your clothing to remove any unattached ticks. When you change or shower, check your skin – paying particular attention to moist areas like behind the knee. If you find a tick, use a proper tick remover to take it off. Read our guide for everything you need to know about ticks and Lyme disease.
7. Ride to the conditions
A baking hot day might not be the best time to take on your furthest or fastest ride. When planning your ride take into account the conditions, whether that means slowing the pace or limiting the distance. You will need to take more breaks in warmer weather, particularly if riding with children, so make sure you factor in rest stops.
8. Fuel up
Taking snacks with you will help fuel your ride. But make sure they’re weather appropriate – for example chocolate will just melt in the heat. Choose food that isn’t sticky or likely to disintegrate in your pocket, such as flapjacks, fruit like satsumas or apples or, as suggested below, frozen bananas. It’ll save you having to clean melted chocolate out of your kit too! We have more in-depth advice for what to eat on longer rides.
9. Cover your trips
If your summer cycling involves taking a trip, make sure you’re covered with travel insurance. Be aware that some travel insurance policies do not specifically cover cycling, so make sure your policy includes medical care or repatriation following a cycling accident.
Remember that Cycling UK members receive 15% discount off policies with specialist cycle travel insurers Yellow Jersey, including a separate short-term bicycle insurance policy that allows you to add cover for your bicycle for a holiday.
10. Freeze ahead
The night before, freeze one bottle of water (only fill it up 75% as ice expands). As you ride the ice will melt and you’ll have a refreshing cold drink. If you are feeling very warm you can also use your icy water bottle to squirt yourself to cool down, too. You can also freeze bananas for a cold nutritious snack that won’t be mushy – although you will need to eat them before they defrost!