Cycling in the Heat: 4 Essential Tips to Help Keep You Cool

Cycling in the Heat: 4 Essential Tips to Help Keep You Cool - Samsara Cycle

With summer cycling season underway, sunny days beckon us back to the roads again, making it easy to get caught out in the sun – something you need to be careful of. Not only can sun exposure lead to heatstroke and heat exhaustion, it’s also the leading cause of skin cancer. Luckily, the key to staying protected is pretty simple. These are 4 essential ways to protect yourself in the summer heat. 

1. Hydrate early… and stay hydrated

The key to being hydrated, especially on hot days, is to start early. That means, first thing in the morning, forgo your usual cup of coffee and instead drink 300 to 500 ml of water. Then, 1 or 2 hours before your ride you’ll want to drink another 300 to 500 ml of water. Depending on how long you plan to ride, you’ll want to keep hydrating at various intervals to replace the fluids you're burning. Consider bringing extra water bottles. Also, make sure at least one of them is filled with an electrolyte drink. Water won’t suffice to replace essential minerals you’re losing, such as sodium, calcium, and magnesium. And remember, always drink before you get thirsty. Lastly, don’t forget to hydrate after rides. 

2. Plan your rides

The good news is, for many of us summer means extended daylight hours. You don’t have to try to cram a good ride in before the heat and sun become unbearable because you’ve suddenly gained ample time to play safely in cooler hours without as much direct sun exposure. Wherever you’re located though, the key is to plan your rides as early or late in the day as possible. Getting caught in the midday sun is not going to help you secure your personal bests out on the road. 

3. Wear sunscreen

Even if you’re planning rides in the early morning or late afternoons, you’ll still want to slather on sunscreen where your skin is exposed. Find a sunscreen that is sweat-proof; ideally something not water based. And pro tip: if you are planning to go for a longer ride, think about storing a small sunscreen stick or tube in your cycling repair kit. That way, you can always reapply as you go. 

4. Dress appropriately

The right cycling apparel can make or break your ride. Especially when it’s hot out. As a general rule, you’ll want to opt for lighter colours to help deflect the sun. But you can also invest in fabrics that are UV-protective, like our short sleeve jerseys (rated at UPF 50). In addition to their sun-protective properties, these are also made of light-weight, breathable, and moisture-wicking fabrics that help keep you comfortable and properly ventilated by moving sweat quickly away from your body. 

Now, if you’re really worried about skin exposure and overheating, another pro tip is to bring along a pair of arm warmers. Yes, arm warmers. They pack down easily if you decide you no longer need them. But the key to having them is that, not only do they protect your skin from direct sun exposure significantly better than sunscreen, but you can also soak them in water to help cool you off as you ride. The same applies for caps. On really hot days, you may want to wear a cycling cap under your helmet to help give you extra shade, but also so that when you start getting too hot, you can soak it in water and wear it as a cooling layer on your head. 

Top Cycling Gear to Beat The Heat

sun-protective cycling gear
Short-sleeve jerseys: Made with fabrics that are breathable, moisture-wicking, and sun-protective (UPF 50).
Cycling caps: Great for extra sun shade. 
Protective arm sleeves: The easy and lightweight option to protect your arms from direct sun exposure, and also wet down to help keep you cool. 
Water bottles: For water and electrolyte drinks to help keep you hydrated while you ride.