Surviving summer

Two years ago, I posted an article on beating the heat. It basically boiled down to the following advice which I still stand by.

  • Wear sunscreen and eye protection
  • Stay hydrated
  • Replenish electrolytes and calories if needed
  • Stay cool by packing ice in jersey pockets or riding through shady areas and sprinklers on the route
  • Reduce sun exposure by shifting your work schedule or mixing your bike commute with transit if possible
  • Finally, recognize the symptoms of heat-induced sickness. These are bad news!
  1. Dizziness
  2. Nausea
  3. Sudden fatigue
  4. Headaches
  5. Blurred vision

A few other things to consider (some of which were from the comments two years ago!)

Learn where you can top off your water bottles. If you drink a lot of water in the summer, you might be tempted to wear a hydration pack, but your best bet is to keep your back free and able to stay cool. Parks, convenience stores and walking trails will usually have somewhere for you to get more water.

Ditch the helmet if you start to get too hot. A bike helmet will protect your head in the crash, but as Fritz points out, there’s irony in suffering heat illnesses because you have your head stuck in a well-insulated heat trap. Fritz also noted that while it feels good to douse yourself with water, the liquid does a much better job when you DRINK it, so if your water is in limited supply, refrain from dumping it on your head.

Some say Cotton is Rotten. Cotton t-shirts are cheap, but they don’t breathe well when they’re soaked with sweat. Pick your clothing carefully. Discount warehouse stores often sell inexpensive running or golf shirts that wick water away from the body and breathe quite well. You don’t need to spend $40 and up for a fancy brand-name running shirt or jersey.  Stick with light colors in the summer. That dark blue jersey might look nice, but it’ll soak up heat from the sun quickly.

What do you do to beat the summer heat? We had a 110 degree heat index here in Kansas City this afternoon. I spent a few minutes on my way home sitting in the shade and filling up my bottles at a local park.