Summer Cycling Tips from the Pros from Summer Cycling Tips from the Pros

Summer Cycling Tips from the Pros

It takes more than water

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Drinking enough water is very important for overall health, as dehydration makes you sick in many ways, but water alone is not enough when biking in the summer. “Water is great, but a drink with electrolytes is better,” Potts says. “Not only is it the right nutritional formula, but it also helps you maintain your focus, as your brain needs calories to function properly,” he adds. Wassner adds that she always brings at least three bottles of sports drinks with her on hot days. “I use Infinit sports drink which allows me to create a custom blend for the electrolytes I need and the flavor I like,” she says.

Plan to pass a gas station

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Staying cool during hot summer days takes some planning. “I make sure to drink and on a hot day I always plan a route that will pass by a gas station or place where I can get ice and water,” Wassner says.  

Ride in the morning

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“It's best to start your ride in the morning before it gets too hot,” Wassner says. “However, I also keep in mind that I want to avoid rush hour and extra cars on the road, so on weekdays I time my rides so I start just after rush hour,” she adds.

Wear arm sleeves

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Sunscreen alone is not enough to protect your skin from the strong and harmful UV rays. You should still apply it every couple of hours and consider UVA UVB protective clothing as well. “I also wear arm sleeves to protect my arms from the sun,” Wassner says. Potts adds that he would opt for a long sleeve jersey if it has a cooling fabric, as the sleeves offer more protection and doesn’t necessarily mean it will make you hotter. “I have done this in Hawaii, and it made no difference,” he adds.

Signs of heat stress

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Exposure to extreme heat can lead to heat stress and ultimately result to serious injuries, as well as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes, according to the CDC. Know the signs. “If you start really slowing down and don't know why, check in and make sure you're not overheating,” Wassner says. “Also, feeling dizzy and off is a good sign you need to stop and get some ice,” she adds. The number one sign is lack of focus, according to Potts. “It’s hard to notice, but your mind starts to wander first and you have a hard time attributing what’s going on,” he adds. Other signs are fatigue, which is lack of electrolytes, cotton mouth, and tingling in fingers – your pinky and ring finger first, which is a sign of calcium deficiency.

Check the forecast

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Damp or rainy days can be dangerous for cyclists. “Watch out for summer storms,” Wassner says. They make come without warning and you don’t want to be caught in the middle of it. Always check the forecast to see if there is a storm coming. “The other day I had a great 2-hour ride and was heading home and in the last mile it just started pouring with thunder and lightning,” Wassner adds.

Must-have gear

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Wassner advises cyclists to get arm sleeves. They are thinner than arm warmers and are meant to protect from the sun. “Endurance Shield sunscreen is a great brand of sunscreen I use,” she adds. “Also, a light colored or white kit is a good idea. Save the black kits for winter.”

Mind the road surface

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Summer brings different road surfaces such as melting tarmac, even though this doesn’t have as often as you’d think, especially in northern climates as there are mostly have chip and seal roads, Potts says. Pavement is more likely to melt and can be dangerous, he adds. It’s smart to be cautious on the downward. “You do have to be aware that if you ride carbon rims, then these can get hot and cause your tire to go flat,” Wassner says.

Moisture wicking clothing

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Wearing the right clothing is important to stay cool. “I recommend moisture wicking clothing,” Potts says. “The air flow from the bike helps, especially when combined with the right clothing,” he adds.  Also sunglasses are vital, as they reduce glare. Glare creates strain, and strain creates fatigue. “Having a cool mind helps as well, and can overcome strain and heat to an extent,” he adds.

Sunblock

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“I aim for anything over 35 SPF,” Potts says. “And for my face I use a face sunblock with a higher SPF,” he adds. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington-based research group, did a study which showed that many sunscreens are ineffective or contain harmful chemicals. Doctors recommend people should apply sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 30 at least every two hours.

Energy Bars

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“To combat fatigue, I eat the original PowerBar Performance Energy bars,” Potts says. “They have everything you need, and you know when you eat them your body gets everything its craving,” he adds. “I’m competing in an Ironman race this weekend and am using them.” They also help combat fatigue psychologically. Knowing you’re putting the right nutrition into your body gives an additional mental energy boost. 

Later in the day

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Later on in the day the road warps, creating nodules from car tires and debris on the shoulder, according to Potts. “Pavement can warp in heat as well, which can be dangerous to ride on at high speeds,” he adds. Make sure you have the right tires and tire pressure to stay safe.

The right saddle

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This is seasonally neutral, but it needs to be pointed out. “Having the right saddle is imperative,” Potts says. “You need the right fit on the 5 points of contact, which will make it so you never have the urge to stand up because your legs are numb or you’re uncomfortable,” he adds. The saddle is the main weight point of contact, and having the right one makes a ride much more enjoyable.

Aim to overdress

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You’ll be riding so you probably won’t feel as cold as most people. “I like to over dress because you can take off layers,” Potts says. Wassner agrees. "That's why cycling jerseys have so many pockets,” she adds. “Better to wear more and be able to take off the layers.”

Refuel right

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“It's very important to refuel after a hot ride. “Make a quick recovery smoothie as soon and you get home, Wassner says. One of her favorites is the Athlete Food Beat the Heat Smoothie. You want to replace the fuel you used, and that’s mainly carbohydrates. The body can also use healthy fat and protein. “I always stress that you take 20g of protein, which for muscle synthesis is the threshold you’re looking for,” Potts says. You should take this within half an hour to an hour after you’re done cycling. “It doesn’t matter what the source is – whole foods, a PowerBar protein shake, etc.,” he adds.  The basic rule is to aim for 50 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein. Chocolate milk provides the perfect ratio of 4 grams of carbs to 1 gram of protein, which is optimal for post-workout muscle recovery.

Enjoy a bathtub after

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You just finished cycling for an hour or two; your body temperature is increased and your muscles are fatigued. “After the ride I love to jump into a cold stream by my house. If you don't have a stream, pour some ice in the bathtub and jump in,” Wassner says. An ice bath can help the small tears in muscle fibers. It tightens blood vessels, helps clear waste, and reduces swelling.

Summer Cycling Tips from the Pros