How To Beat The Heat

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Yesterday we had a post about coping with winter cycling and today I think it’s appropriate to write about how to cope with cycling in the Australian summer. It was 43C yesterday and it’s going to get up there again today. It was nearly 40C when I was riding into work this morning!

There’s very little you can do to make temperatures like this bearable, but here’s a few suggestions.

1.  Ride early before the sun has a chance to warm up.  The sun is rising at about 6am these days in Australia.  Get your ride done before 8am.  You’ll be glad you did.

2. Ride at higher altitudes. Go out to the hills where it’s higher and cooler – like the The Dandenongs for those of you who live in Melbourne.  It’s often 5-10 degrees cooler there and it’s very heavily shaded.  This will get you your hill work in as well.

3. Hydrate .  Obvious but it always needs to be said.  Since your water will warm up to boiling temperatures be sure you stop at Service Stations to refill with cold water.  Make sure you get your electrolytes as well.  Otherwise you run serious risk of completely depleting your existing electrolytes in your body and getting Hyponatremia (when the sodium in the blood plasma is too low because it’s been diluted with too much water and no replacement electrolytes).   Sports Medicine Australia recommends drinking at least 500mls (2-3 glasses) before activity and one large waterbottle (800ml) every hour during exercise in this type of heat. 

4.  Freeze the fluid in your waterbottles the night before.  This way they’ll slowly melt and you’ll have cold water for longer.

5. Wear a light-colored jersey made of a wicking material , which will help cool you with the evaporative effect.  Jerseys with mesh sections or zippers will open up for better ventilation as well.  Wear a full zip jersey so you can completely undo it and get the most ventilation possible.

6. Wear gloves to keep your hands from slipping off the handlebars and to wipe sweat from your face. Gloves with a terry cloth or other absorbent back are great for keeping the sweat from your eyes.

7. If you have a body of water close by go ahead and jump in at the end of your ride. There’s nothing like it!  Just be sure to rinse off with fresh water if it’s an ocean that you just jumped in so that the salt doesn’t get all over your bike and rust any parts.  Don’t do this too far from home.  Very uncomfortable riding 70km home in a wet chamois.  I don’t understand how triathletes do this…

Any other TIPS, tricks and hints to keep you cool in this heat? Check out the comments section for reader submitted TIPS.

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