Feeling hot, hot, hot!

Riding in new bike lane on Prospect Park WestNow that the temperature is in the 90s, it’s getting harder to bike comfortably. At least for me, it is. If you’ve been commuting daily, the heat shouldn’t take you by surprise: we had a mild winter and a very short spring that quickly turned to summer. However, if you’ve just started commuting, it can be pretty daunting, especially in our muggy NYC heat. Either way, the following is a list of tips for cycling in the hot, sticky heat:

  • Take it easy. Commuting is not a race so ride at a leisurely pace, especially in the hot summer months. This may mean leaving earlier to arrive at your destination on time–give yourself an extra 15 minutes or so to start, then adjust accordingly.
  • Protect your skin and eyes. If wearing short sleeves/pants, choose a safe, low-hazard sunscreen and apply to all exposed skin (i.e., face, neck, arms, hands, legs, etc.), even if the weather forecast predicts clouds. Also make sure to wear sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose appropriate clothing. Light colored clothing will reflect heat so choose white shirts over black ones. Ideally, you should also not wear cotton (as it absorbs and retains moisture instead of wicking it away) and instead opt for “technical” fabrics instead, like spandex and lycra. If you’re uncomfortable in these clothes or just don’t want to look like you’re in the Tour de France, simply bring a change of clothing with you.
  • Stay hydrated. If you have a long ride, it’s important that you bring plenty of water on your commute. If you don’t have a bottle cage (or two) installed on your frame, you can throw a bottle into your bag/basket and pull it out when you’re at a red light or taking a breather under the protective shade of a tree.
  • Keep your bike in shape. Make sure to pump your tires every few days to the maximum recommended PSI. Make sure your bike is in good condition: chain is clean and greased, gears are adjusted, etc. You don’t want to work any harder than you have to in the heat so it’s a good idea to have your bike checked out.

How do you ride in 90°F+ weather? What’s your strategy for arriving at your destination not totally exhausted and drenched in sweat?

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