Its not all Sunshine and Roses
Sunny days are usually a good time to go on long bike trips. People tend to ride longer distances and use their bike for regular commute as well if a good warm day is the forecast. While a hot day may seem ideal for biking, in the excitement and good spirit people tend to forget the necessary gear and other essentials to carry on such trips. Warm days are usually pleasant and you may be tempted to enjoy biking in such conditions especially when the transition from spring to summer or summer to autumn is happening. But in the middle of summer an afternoon in the scorching heat with the sun on your head is a different game altogether. In summer it is recommended to ride during early or late hours when the sun is not trying to evaporate you. Do check the weather conditions to stay informed about the temperature, intensity of UV radiation, humidity levels, heat wave and dust storm warnings among other regular things.
Planning is essential for a biker due to the challenges faced by a biker in today's world. Planning for the weather is essential and should be on the top of your priority list. Organize and decide what is the best dress to wear, what kind of backpack you should carry, precautions, fluids to be carried etc. Plan your route and have at least a rough sketch of the route you plan on riding if you don't have a road map with ideal routes for biking, alternative routes and landmarks on the way. Being totally dependent on technology for the same can have its drawbacks due to various factors and can cost you more time to stop and check the phone for the route and influence its battery power as well. Another important factor to consider while riding and making a map for the same is to mark probable spots where you can stop and grab something to eat or drink. Also make a note of hours of operation for such spots if possible. This can be essential if you are riding early, late or on a public holiday.
Also make sure if the route you intend to travel on has any construction zones and alternative to be allotted. In case of such roads, having an off-road like condition's possibility should also be considered. Have a good understanding of where you are going, what is located around it and especially a mechanic's shop somewhere in between the route if you are not carrying the required workable tools with you. Carrying your own basic tools like a puncture patch kit, air pump, lubricant oil, wrenches, spanners etc would prove beneficial in case of any repairs to be done in the middle of your trip if you end up in no mans land. Find lighter and smaller tools which are easily portable to reduce the weight dedicated to such equipments you have to carry. It can be transferred from rider to rider if you are riding as a group after you make a stop. Acclimatize yourself, practice and be prepared if you are going out in harsher than normal conditions.
Dust of Fury
Dust and smoke flying around affects a biker immensely. It causes blurry vision, disorientation, lapse of concentration and potential long term effects on lung health, skin and eyesight if you are not using safety precautions. Using a helmet and UV protected goggles could minimize some of these issues. Carry a balaclava if you are planning on riding through dusty conditions and a face mask if it is intense apocalyptic conditions (like most busy cities today) which you may encounter.
Hydrate in the Right Magnitude
Hot days make you sweat more and the body requires increased fluid consumption especially if you are biking long hours during such conditions. Keep drinking at regular intervals and eat more water rich food like fruits during these times. Electrolytes are recommended to be consumed as part of your drink as they are regularly lost due to sweating and drinking natural sources of electrolytes like coconut water is recommended. Some sodium in your body is also recommended as it holds on to the water content. Keep all these in mind when selecting a diet and the types of fluids to drink.
Select a comfortable backpack with adequate spacing for holding extra bottles of fluids if you are going on a long ride. Water bottles and flasks can be attached to the bike, your dress, the backpack and even a dedicated hydration backpack can also be considered. If you are carrying multiple water bottles a few or 1 can be frozen and this could be used last or used when you need a real cool sip of water. Hydrate yourself properly on the day leading to a long ride and carry water in easily accessible containers. It is considered healthy to sip on water every 10 minutes after an initial 30 minutes of riding.
Be careful of hyponatremia which is majorly caused due to excessively hydrating your body. When more than required amounts of water is consumed, the body flushes out essential minerals, sodium and other electrolytes which are essential to keeping your system healthy. This can lead to fatigue, drowsiness, illness and even death in serious cases. The symptoms to watch out for hyponatremia are bloating, nausea, incoherence, disorientation and loss of appetite. To avoid hyponatremia consume salty foods occasionally or electrolyte rich fluids which on average gives you at least 1 gram of sodium every hour.
Dress to the Occasion
On hot sunny days, wear lightweight breathable clothing. Many materials are available in the market today but buy and wear according to your comfort factor. Clothing with wicking properties would prove beneficial on hot sunny days when you tend to sweat more.
Wear full sleeves if you want protection from the heat, dust, and temperature regulation of upper body.
Wear innerwear with wicking properties as well to stay comfortable. Shorts if worn should not be slippery or very loose. Dress in general should not be loose enough to fly around and cause a drag in your motion.
American Cancer Society recommends use of tightly woven dark colored clothes to protect from UV radiation. Clothes mentioning a higher UV protection factor (UPF) is recommended (normal range available 15-50+).
If you wear gloves, wearing fingerless ones is recommended in the summer as sweat and grip can play an important factor on a long day's ride.
While sun rays they say is full of vitamin D and is sending packets of energy to you, remind yourself that you are not a drained out solar panel or a plant ready to photosynthesize. Humans need sunlight to a moderate extent and anything more can be harmful according to Doctors, who recommend the use of sun screen if your body parts are going to be exposed to the sun for long and this is easy to happen on a summer day biking trip. Watch out for the UV radiation levels (UV index) in your local area on a given day before you go out there. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck, arms, legs or anywhere you may be exposed to sun. Sunscreens are available nowadays in many forms like lotion, creams, balms, sprays etc.
Watch out for the road as in extreme heat, the tarmac on the road could start melting and if you don't avoid riding through such patches or roads, it could stick to your tires.
Be prepared for windy and cool conditions towards the night if you plan on riding long distances and in case of a delay on the way. Grabbing a waterproof light windjacket and a set of lights wouldn't be a bad idea.
Eat in regular intervals consuming necessary carbohydrates, fiber, sodium, potassium, electrolytes and drink fluids frequently while riding. After a long ride and don't be tempted to go crash in your bed if you care about lasting health benefits for your days workout. Eat normally with a protein rich meal if it was an intense cycling session as the biggest muscles for a normal person are in the legs. Consume adequate water but don't overdo it thinking that is healthy. Dont try compensating for the numerous days in which you have neglected drinking water and see the thirst as an oppurtunity to maximise you water intake, drink in moderation to preserve your electrolytes.
You attentiveness and alertness can reward you kindly and help avoid any mishaps which could ruin the mood of a beautiful day's riding otherwise. Happy riding.
Do Check Out :
A Biker's Weather Woes : Rainy Days
A Biker's Weather Woes : Autumn Time
Pic Courtesy : bartoszwolinskiwolisphoto, pbaase, 1zoom, brunovd, groovygreenlivin, actitudfem