Once the temperature gets up to the triple digits on the Fahrenheit scale, many cyclists stop riding. However, there are things anyone can do to stay fairly cool when cycling in hot weather.
The body will adjust to riding in the heat, but you have to work up to it. It takes about two weeks for a person to fully acclimatize to a change in temperature and humidity. Start by riding in the cooler parts of the day at a lower intensity and with shorter rides. Gradually work up both the intensity and length, and gradually integrate some riding during hotter parts of the day.
Avoid the expectation that you can ride as hard and far as you can in cooler weather; it just isn’t going to happen. Your body expends too much energy trying to dissipate heat and can’t go the duration you are used to in cooler weather regardless if you are acclimated or not.
The body dissipates heat through sweating. However during the process, a lot of water is also lost. If not replaced at frequent intervals, a heat injury is a real possibility; a heat stroke can be fatal.
Pre-hydrate your body before a ride by drinking at least a quart of water. Then continue to drink small amounts of water frequently. Don’t rely on your thirst as a sign to drink. By the time you realize you are thirsty, you are already in the early stages of dehydration.
If you have an adequate supply of water, or at least places on your ride where you can refill your water bottles, pouring water through the helmet vents will help cool off your head. And you’ll continue to get a cooling effect while riding as the wind going over your wet head will help cool you off (at least until all the water is evaporated.
Dress for Success
Wearing clothes made from material that wicks away sweat will keep you cooler, so you can ride more comfortable. Under Armor-type clothing looks normal, feels comfortable and performs well at keeping you dry. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, long sleeve shirts keep you cooler. However if you opt for a short-sleeve shirt, be sure to wear copious amounts of sunscreen on exposed arms.
One accessory that helps keep your neck and head cool is a water-soaked bandana that you wear around your neck. There are several companies that make ice bandanas. Just freeze it the night before and as it slowly thaws, it dissipates heat.
By cycling slower and not going as far as you would in cooler weather, plus dressing properly, keeping hydrated and acclimatizing to the weather as it gets hotter, cycling in hot weather can not only be tolerable, but enjoyable adding another element to your riding.