Do you want to ride through summer, but the prospect of arriving drenched in sweat is holding you back?
Here are our top 10 tips to keep riding comfortably through summer:
Carry a water bottle
Taking a bottle of chilled water with you is the best way to stop dehydration. It's super easy when you have a bottle pouch attached to your front luggage; the T- C- S- and O-Bags all have rear pouches that can be used for this purpose. Even if you have different front bag, slipping a water bottle in where you can reach it easily when stopped at traffic lights provides welcome relief on roasting days. There's also the Saddle Bag/Cover which, even with the cover in it, can still easily fit most bottles.
Just as important as taking water with you, is not starting out under-hydrated. Have a drink of water, even if it's only a mouthful or two, before you set off on your ride.
Have a cold drink waiting at your destination
The best way to rapidly cool down once you’ve stopped riding is to have a perfectly chilled drink. Pay attention to the forecast and plan ahead; the hotter it is, the more you’ll consume. Sitting quietly in a well-ventilated area also helps significantly.
Riding a bike uses your largest muscle groups. So even though you might feel cool as you're whizzing along, that cooling breeze vanishes as soon as you stop pedalling, leaving you to suddenly realise you have, actually, been exercising. Therefore, resist the urge to race. Allow extra time for your journey, slow down and take your time. A gentle spin, as opposed to pushing a high gear. You'll still appreciate your cold drink on arrival, and your recovery period will be quicker.
Plan when to ride
If you can, try to ride in the cooler hours of the day. There can be a noticeable change of temperature over even a short period.
Arriving early also means you have more time to cool down (and change clothes, if necessary).
Consider changing your route
Can you take a route that is shadier? Maybe one that involves fewer roads and more shared paths through parks. Not only will the ride be more relaxing, but there will be less reflected energy from trees and grass and even a concrete path than there is from buildings and bitumen roads where you're also contending with heat radiating from the road surface and being generated from the traffic around you.
You may need to leave even earlier to take a less direct path, but you may find it pays off in a more pleasant, less stressful ride.
Take a change of clothes
It takes a bit of trial and error but you do get a feel for what to wear, and when. For example, I know if the temperature is over >18C (and taking into consideration what the afternoon temperature is predicted to be) I should consider wearing shorts and a t-shirt on my morning commute rather than work clothes. Below <18C I might wear my work pants and a t-shirt, and change into my work blouse once I've arrived at work.
If you don't have change room facilities at your workplace, taking a change of clothes and riding at a relaxed pace is will help keep you feeling fresh.
Wear moisture-wicking fabrics
The best way to not feel sweaty in your clothes is to wear moisture-wicking fabrics. Superfine merino wool and a range of synthetics are now widely available to provide you with an extra level of comfort for your ride.
Suncream, sunglasses, and visor
If your route exposes you to the sun for extensive periods, especially if you're riding directly into the sun, consider applying suncream (sunscreen) before you set off.
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare, not just insects flying along or things flicking up from the path or road.
Buy a helmet that comes with a visor, or try a proper cycling cap. Wearing a baseball cap or visor beneath your helmet is not recommended, as explained in this article.
Finish your morning routine at work
Concerned about helmet hair? Sweat ruining your makeup?
Allow time to fluff or re-style your hair, to put on make up, and feel presentable after you've cooled down at work. There's no point doing all these things at home and then feeling like your efforts have been wasted by the time you arrive at your destination. Try new styles that will still look good when not every hair is perfectly in place. Be bold and adventurous!
Be proud of who you are
You don't want to wear shorts because you haven't shaved or waxed lately? We've all had those thoughts and felt that self-induced shame many times too.
But the truth is other people will only think it's a big deal if you act like it's a big deal - and maybe not even then. Don't stop doing things you enjoy because of what you assume others may think. #sticksandstones
So go on. Get out and ride to work this summer! Just make sure you plan ahead and ride sensibly for the conditions.