Yep, it's hot out. If you're reluctant to bike because the heat just seems too unbearable, we're here to help. Follow these tips on how to beat the summer heat while bike commuting.
First let's acknowledge that you're going to sweat regardless of how well you prepare to beat the summer heat. It's just unavoidable. Take comfort in knowing that everyone else is sweaty too, and, with these helpful hints, you'll learn how to make that sweat work for you, instead of against you.
We've divided this post into three sections: before your ride, during your ride, and after your ride. Ready to figure out how to beat the summer heat? Let's go!
Before the Ride
If just the thought of outdoor physical activity on summer's hottest and stickiest days makes you feel exhausted and depleted, that's probably because you didn't prep yourself properly in the past. The good news is that there is some self-care that you can do before you even begin your bike ride that will help you stay strong and energized.
Hydrate! And Eat Hydrated Foods!
From here on out, your breakfast is going to include a big glass of water and a big bowl of fruit – or a salad.
Drinking lots of water is always a good idea, but it's especially important on hot days. Your body is going to try to cool itself by sweating, so you need to fill your tank and give your body a lot of fluid to sweat out.
Have you ever noticed that you crave fruits and crisp vegetables more in hot weather? Your body naturally longs for these foods with high water content to help you stay hydrated, so feel free to indulge those longings to your heart's content.
Dress for the Occasion
There are two approaches for biking in hot weather: the first is to wear as little as possible, and the second is to completely cover yourself.
When our bodies feel hot, we produce sweat. And when that sweat on our skin evaporates, we feel a little cooler. Therefore, exposing as much skin as possible to a passing breeze will make the sweat evaporate faster, cooling you off quicker.
Biking outfit: Duluth Trading Dry on the Fly Wicking Tank ($29.50) and Under Armour Inlet Short with UPF 30+ ($40); Office attire conversion: TopShop Selwyn Shirt by Unique ($250) and J.Crew Linen Midi Skirt ($50)
What about your office dress code, you say? One way to implement this strategy to beat the summer heat on your bike commute is to wear a tank top and shorts, and then pull on a sheer top and longer skirt when you get to work (or get near work).
However, on days that are both hot and sunny, covering your skin with loose fitting clothes may be the better way to go. The sun's rays will heat your skin and potentially burn it. Yes, you have sunscreen, but sunscreen can affect how well your skin sweats and cools.
Ligne8 Ines Long Sleeve Shirt ($88), Dr. Cool Chill Sleeve ($20), J.Crew Seaside Linen Pant ($90)
Of course, don't wear any old long sleeves and long pants. Choose fabrics that are airy, like linen, or that have cooling and wicking qualities. Try breathable sleeves, like these from Dr. Cool, to cover your skin and cool it at the same time, or opt for loose cuts that are essential to making sure that air can still circulate over your skin to evaporate your sweat and cool you down.
Use a Bike Bag Instead of a Backpack!
One easy way to reduce the discomfort of biking in hot weather is to get that heavy bag off your back. It is essential that air circulates across your skin, and having a big bag strapped to your back is not the way to do it. A Po Campo bike bag allows you to put that heavy bag on your bike for while you are riding, and then you can carry it as your normal bag throughout your day.
On Your Bike
Change your Route and Go Slower
You may find that it is worth going a little out of your way to beat the summer heat and opt for routes for shaded side streets. The trees cool down the air and their shade will keep you out of the beating sun, while the lack of traffic will spare you the heat of car exhaust.
Secondly, if you're looking to lessen the amount you sweat, going at a slower pace is a good way to do it. You'll still be burning calories and strengthening your muscles, you just won't be exerting yourself quite as much.
Throw a cold bottle of water in your bottle cage or bike bag so that you can access it easily while on the go. Replacing fluids as you expend them will keep you feeling strong.
Keep a Pocket Fan Handy
You'll probably notice that the heat doesn't bother you as much while you are moving as it does while you are sitting at a stoplight. This is because when you're pedaling, the air is moving over your skin, evaporating your sweat and cooling you down, while when you're standing still, your body produces sweat but it just sits there. And that is why you need a pocket fan.
These small fans are great for pulling out at stoplights to keep you cool. You can store one in your Po Campo bike bag for easy access. For an extra treat, get a misting fan, or spritz yourself on your face, neck, and wrists for an extra cool down.
After the Ride
Douse Yourself (Or at Least Freshen Up)
When you're done with your bike ride, dump a bottle of cold water on your head. Seriously! This method is proven to cool you down quickly. But if that's not doable, a cold shower will have the same effect.
Not fortunate enough to have shower facilities at work? Many bike commuters swear by their "baby wipes bath" that cleans off sweat. We recommend taking it up a notch and using Action Wipes - larger wipes that clean without making you feel sticky, and made with essential oils that smell really nice.
Drink More Water
In case you haven't noticed, hydrating is key if you want to beat the summer heat. Toss an extra water bottle or two into your bike bag and guzzle it down when you get to where you're going. Replacing the liquid that you just sweated away will keep you from feeling fatigued.
This entertaining video from RideScout/Moovel perfectly showcases sweaty summer biking can be - but also how possible it is to beat the summer heat!
And with that, you should be ready to beat the summer heat while bike commuting!
Did we miss anything? Please leave your favorite tips for riding to work in hot weather in the comments below.