Summer is finally making an appearance in the Pacific Northwest, and those participating in outdoor activities need to be thinking about sun safety. Hot weather riding is more demanding on your body than riding during cooler temperatures. Summer riders need to be aware of hot weather hazards including dehydration and heat stroke. Luckily, these are preventable with the proper preparation.
Follow these basic tips and you’ll be ready to roll!
1. Keep dehydration at bay by making sure you are drinking regularly. Stop and refill your water bottles when you can. Cycle U West Seattle always has a water cooler available just inside our entrance for a quick fill up. For those who don’t like to make extra stops to re-fill bottles along the way, you can use larger 24 ounce bottles and consider packing an extra bottle in your jersey. However you choose to do it, make sure you are drinking regularly and that your bottles don’t go dry during your ride.
If you tend to not feel thirsty during rides (I know you camels out there!), this does not necessarily mean that you are not at risk for dehydration also. Regardless of if you feel thirsty or not, you should plan on taking in water every 15 to 20 minutes as a rule. This simple precaution can save you a big headache down the road!
2. Keep up on electrolytes. When you sweat a lot, you’re losing a lot of salt and other electrolytes. If your electrolytes drop enough, you will be at risk for cramping and delayed recovery time. Additionally, if you drink too much water without any salt, you may be at risk for hyponatremia, a medical condition that occurs when you develop a sodium imbalance at a cellular level. (Note: this does not mean you should dump table salt in your water!) To prevent salt deficiency, you can simply add in an electrolyte mix to your water. There are many available for purchase at Cycle U and other sporting goods stores, including the very popular Nuun.
3. In case of an emergency, make sure you have identification on you and let others know where you are heading. This goes for riding anytime: It is always a good idea to let people know your riding plans, and to keep identification on you at all times. Whether you take a wallet with you, or you choose Road ID www.roadid.com, make sure you are being a responsible and safe cyclist.
4. If the weather looks too hot for your cycling comfort, one option is to ride early or late. Head out in the morning before the heat of the day, and end before it hits. Evening rides can also be very pleasant but keep an eye on visibility! Long summer days make later and earlier riding possible, but always be careful riding before dawn or after sunset. A front white light and rear red light are required by law for riding in the dark. It is always a good idea to ride a route in the daylight before tackling it under twilight conditions. If you are safe about it, a sunset or sunrise ride can be a beautiful thing!
5. Last, but not least, know your limits. If the weather was hotter than anticipated, and you don’t deal with heat well, maybe you shouldn’t do the 70 mile ride you were planning. Use common sense and be realistic.
Happy (hydrated) Riding, everyone!