How do you deal with the heat?

I feel like I’m building heat tolerance, or maybe just acceptance. It’s still pretty brutal, especially with the heat index 10° higher than the actual temperature.

Is the heat affecting your ability or desire to ride? Have you developed strategies for dealing with it?

Here are a few of mine…

State of mind. I procrastinate and fret, but once I get my head around getting out there, I find I can deal with it.

Using the swimming pool. Taking multiple showers doesn’t seem a like great ecological trade-off for not driving the car. Hanging out without some sort of rinse-off isn’t an option. I’m usually drenched with sweat before I get my bike unlocked in this weather. I try to plan ahead and consolidate trips, but that isn’t always possible. If I need a break between bike trips, the pool offers an alternative to taking multiple showers.

Sticking to shady streets. Even if it’s a little farther, a shady route makes it a lot easier. There’s a definite difference in the shade when the heat index is high. The worst places are those minute-and-a-half long traffic lights at arterial road crossings.

Using a cooler for grocery runs. I have 2 small coolers that fit in my Trek grocery panniers. When I’m carrying the coolers, I keep a water bottle with cold water in there. There’s nothing worse than drinking hot water when it’s brutally hot out. BTW, we also carry these coolers for students to store extra water during the CyclingSavvy Tour of Orlando. 🙂

BTW, if I had to dress up at my destinations, without the benefit of a shower, I’d be less inclined to use a bike. I do take fresh clothes, clean up and change for longer meetings, but it isn’t worth the time for short meetings.

Here’s an interesting article about how Tour De France riders dealt with blistering heat. Stockings full of ice… hmm.

So, how are you dealing with it?

12 replies
  1. Doohickie
    Doohickie says:

    Good question. I’m just back from vacation and before coming to this site I checked the local weather- high of 104 tomorrow, but the heat index won’t be too much worse than that here in Texas. My first instinct was to wait until Tuesday to ride when the temps will be a bit lower, but I think I may go ahead and ride.

    I do take a shower when I get to work, but I don’t take one before riding, so it really isn’t an extra shower. I must admit that sometimes I don’t take one in the evening when I get home. Good for the environment, not so good for my wife!

    I discovered the building where I work has an ice machine on the ground floor, so I ice up my bottles before leaving. I get crushed ice so it melts during the ride. I apply the water both internally and externally ;- ) In Texas, my mouth dries out from the heat; I find that chewing gum helps keep the saliva going and keeps my mouth moist.

  2. rodney
    rodney says:

    I chill two water bottles. One with Gatorade and the other water. With a 7 mile commute in, I have a quiet neighborhood about the two mile mark and take a two minute break in the shade. About half of the Gatorade and 1/4 of the water is consumed at this time, just because.

    I’ll get about 3-3.5 miles further and take another two minute break. Water bottle is now at half full.

    Finish riding in and then hit the shower.

  3. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Traveling in the Florida heat for the last five year, in a velomobile, I’ve probably become somewhat conditioned. I recently upgraded my 70 ounce Camelbak to the 100 ounce version and found I can travel up to about 50 miles before I run dry.

    I’ve also discovered Rocket Shower, since I’m unable to take a shower at each stop on my commute. It’s a mixture of various volatile liquids and is supposed to be sprayed on skin, but I tend not to disrobe in public places, so I spray it on my lycra as well as legs and arms.

    The Camelbak went from four pounds to six, but I hardly notice it on Flat Florida ground.

  4. Robert Davidson
    Robert Davidson says:

    #1: Open toe sandals on big pedals. Amazing how much cooler you feel when your feet aren’t encased in sweaty socks and shoes.
    #2: Take off the lycra top, replace with light cotton short sleeve dress shirts with big arm openings. The breeze gets in the armpit and lifts the shirt off your back if you go fast enough. No lycra stink either. Great way to use old shirts.
    #3: Lots of water – drink a big glass of water before the ride, drink during the ride and drink after.

  5. Larry
    Larry says:

    With the windchill factor I’m able to make it feel cooler. When winter returns I will resume the heat index. These weather guys got it all wrong!

  6. Andrew Oakland
    Andrew Oakland says:

    Warm weather? This summer has been chilly even by SF Bay Area standards. It’s 60 in Oakland right now!

  7. Brian
    Brian says:

    Just gonna mention that shade is a major reason to support greenways/separated paths.

    Where I live now, in eastern NC, it’s at least as hot as where I grew up, in central FL — maybe a little hotter, actually, because farther from the coast. I “ride big” on any and all roads, and I’m all in favor of vehicular cycling skills, but I have to say that when I get a chance to zip into the “green tunnel,” under the trees and away from cars, I always do. Once you’re under the trees, you really understand what the “urban heat island” effect is all about. Our roads are way hotter than they need to be. If more neighborhoods were connected by cool, shady greenways, I think a lot of people in hot climates would bike and walk more.

    On that note, this show on KCRW radio is all about the need for shade in Los Angeles, and it seems totally appropriate to Orlando as well. James Rojas is a good person to listen to:

    • Will
      Will says:

      The city of orlando gives away free trees. I love the towering live oaks in the older neighborhoods. So if you have a spot in front of your house that looks like it needs a tree, they will come out and plant one for you if you promise to take care of it for the year it needs to root. They will also give away trees during the year and for different events.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      That would be true if they would plant shade trees instead of palm trees on them.

      I get shadier routes using residential roads than trails. I was out on the Econ last Friday. There’s only one small area (other than under the bridges) where there is shade on that trail. I was dizzy and barely functioning by the time we got back to Baldwin Park.

      The old section of Cady Way (where it goes through neighborhoods) has some shady areas, but the new part out in the burbs is wide open in the blazing sun (except for right before Tuscawilla Rd).

      That’s not to knock the trails. I like them. But just like they’re not maximizing access to adjacent road networks, they’re not maximizing comfort and quality through good landscape choices.

  8. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Toronto went through a brutal heat wave in July. Over two weeks of temperatures above 30 degrees every day, and not a lot cooler after that. Or today, for that matter.

    What do I do about it?

    Not much. Maybe cycle a little slower, but not much slower. The heat doesn’t really bother me all that much.

  9. waco
    waco says:

    I second the sandals. I’ve been riding in sandals all summer on my commute. I usually wear “normal” clothes when I ride, but this summer I have started wearing white “cool max” running shirts. I have one that is short-sleeved with a mesh panel on the back, and a couple more that are long sleeved to help keep the sun off. They do make a difference when it is 100+F.

    Other than that, more sunscreen and more water during the day between my rides. Mornings aren’t too bad, but the trip home is brutal with the pavement radiating heat up and the sun blasting it down. At least it hasn’t been windy…

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