When you grow up in Australia cycling in the heat is hard to avoid. Having experienced heat-stroke first hand after a long day on the bike, I can tell you it is not something you want to repeat. Over-heating on the bike can really sap your energy and ruin your ride which is no fun. Here are my 5 tips on how to beat the heat:
Start early or late
Check what the top temperature is going to be during the day, then choose the time you are out on the bike wisely. I suggest starting early in the morning if you are planning on a long ride, or if you are only heading out for a hour or so you could start in the late afternoon. Avoid that midday heat if you can. Also, the world looks so lovely first thing in the morning, and you can finish your ride with a coffee and feel like you achieved an incredible amount before lunch.
Drink drink drink
Hydration is so important on the bike. You need to keep up your fluids to maintain your energy and keep your body cool. Everyone is different, but I try to drink at least one 600ml bottle of water per hour on the bike, more if it is really hot. This will not only help keep your energy levels up during the ride, but will also help you recover after the ride finishes. Remember everyone is different - some people may need to drink up to two bottles per hour on the bike. Listen to your body to figure out what works for you.
Keep your water cool by putting ice in it, or freezing it the night before. Make sure you plan ahead and know where you can refill your bottles.
Slip Slop Slap
As the Aussie saying goes - slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun on the bike. This goes not only for avoiding over-heating, but also for health reasons. A tan is skin cells in trauma people!!
Always wear sunscreen when you are on the bike. If you get sunburnt while you are riding your body is going to heat up like fire. It won’t be pleasant. You can now buy arm screens (like arm warmers but lighter and cooler fabric) which are really good for protection and you can take them off easily. There are plenty of cool cycling caps on the market too that you can wear under your helmet. Just be careful with these, as some people (myself included) find that if their head heats up too much their whole body follows. If you are one of those people caps may not be for you.
Not in a weeing type of way! I find if I am really hot, the best thing to do is to pour water over my head. If you are wearing a cycling cap, drench it as it will keep your head cool.
Unless you are in a race, simply take it easy when riding in the heat. If you over exert yourself your body temperature is going to rise quickly, and it is hard to get it down again. Keep your heart rate low, kick back and enjoy your surroundings. You might be going a bit slower, but by keeping your body temperature down you will be able to maintain a steady pace for longer with less stops. Even if you are out in the sun a bit longer, but by riding slower, but you should be able to handle the heat if you take it easy & drink enough water.