As summer is right here, many cycling enthusiasts continue their daily rides despite the scorching heat. Among the four seasons, winter and summer present the biggest challenges for cyclists, as these seasons demand higher physical endurance and adaptability. Therefore, understanding the dos and don’ts of cycling in these seasons is essential. Here, we’ll discuss the top five things you need to pay attention to when cycling in summer.

Stay Hydrated
During high-temperature rides in summer, our bodies lose a significant amount of water through sweat, making it crucial to maintain hydration. The higher the environmental temperature, the greater the water requirement. In hot conditions, the body’s water demand can be twice the normal amount. Therefore, when heading out for a ride in summer, always fill your water bottle and consider carrying one or two bottles depending on your needs. Avoid leaving without water just to lighten your load or for convenience, as this can disrupt your body’s water balance, affect your cycling performance, and in severe cases, lead to dehydration symptoms like palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, and overheating.

It’s not advisable to gulp down large amounts of water at once, as this can overstimulate the stomach, increase the gastrointestinal burden, affect diaphragm movement, and hinder breathing. Additionally, excessive water intake can lead to transient "water diuresis," causing the loss of electrolytes like sodium and potassium, reducing exercise capacity.

During cycling, it’s best to drink small amounts of water frequently. A good rule of thumb is to drink a small amount of water every 20 minutes, typically not exceeding 100 ml. The water temperature should also be moderate, ideally between 41-50, to prevent gastrointestinal spasms caused by very cold water.

Avoid High-Temperature Cycling to Prevent Heatstroke
Summer cycling is best done in the early morning, late afternoon, or at night. It’s not recommended to cycle under the blazing sun, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Direct sunlight combined with rising atmospheric temperatures can cause excessive heat buildup in the head, leading to heatstroke symptoms like meninges congestion and cortical ischemia.

To prevent heatstroke, select a helmet with good ventilation to help dissipate heat effectively. Also, use sunscreen, wear sleeves, and choose light-colored, breathable, and soft cycling clothing. Take breaks during your ride if you feel tired or uncomfortable, and seek shade to rest. Following the hydration tips mentioned earlier also helps prevent overheating and heatstroke.

For both short and long-distance summer rides, it’s wise to carry some heatstroke medication. These can alleviate symptoms if heatstroke occurs. If symptoms persist or worsen after medication, seek medical attention promptly.

Avoid Cold Drinks and Immediate Cold Showers After Riding
After a strenuous ride, it might seem tempting to down an ice-cold drink to cool off, but this can harm your body. Post-ride, your blood redistributes, with large amounts moving to your muscles and skin, and less to your digestive organs. Gulping down a cold drink can severely stimulate your temporarily anemic stomach, impairing its function and potentially leading to acute gastritis or chronic conditions like gastric ulcers. Instead, wait until your body has calmed down before enjoying a cold drink to prevent stomach damage.

Similarly, taking an immediate cold shower after riding can cause your skin's blood vessels to contract suddenly, pores to close, and your body to struggle with the abrupt change. This can lead to various health issues. It’s better to rest for a while, listen to music, watch TV, and let your body return to its normal state before taking a shower with lukewarm or slightly cool water.

Clean Your Gear Promptly
In the hot and humid summer environment, sweat-soaked cycling gear is a breeding ground for bacteria. Therefore, it’s crucial to clean your gear promptly after returning from a ride. Cycling clothes, being the most affected, should be washed immediately to remove sweat and bacteria, which can otherwise damage the fabric and speed up its wear and tear.

Hand wash your cycling clothes with warm water and mild detergent or a specialized sportswear cleaner. Soak for 5-10 minutes, then gently scrub and rinse. Avoid using brushes, wring out the water, and let them air dry. Having two or three sets of cycling clothes ensures you always have a clean set ready, preventing bacterial growth.

Additionally, helmet pads and water bottles also need frequent cleaning. Many helmets come with deodorizing, sweat-absorbing pads, but these should still be cleaned regularly to maintain their elasticity and performance. Clean your water bottle after each ride to prevent the contents from spoiling and causing odors.

Be Prepared for Rain and Maintain Your Bike
Summer’s high temperatures often come with sudden rain showers. Riding in the rain can obstruct your vision and cause your body temperature to drop suddenly, leading to illnesses like colds, fever, and headaches. Always check the weather before heading out and try to avoid riding in the rain.

If you must ride in the rain, wear bright-colored rain gear to ensure visibility to motorists and avoid potential accidents. If the rain is heavy, it’s better to wait for it to subside before continuing. Upon reaching your destination, change out of wet clothes, take a hot shower, or drink a hot beverage to restore your body temperature and prevent colds.

After riding in the rain, promptly clean and maintain your bike to prevent rust and corrosion, particularly on the paint and chain.

These tips should help you enjoy a safe and pleasant summer cycling experience.
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