Heat & the Sun
Riding in the heat can
certainly be uncomfortable. But there's another
problem: the sun. You can beat the heat by wearing
less clothing, but then the sun will fry you to a
crisp. You can avoid the sun by wearing more
clothing, but then you'll be really hot. So
what do you do? Here are some super
(1) Wear a long-sleeve
dress cotton dress shirt, unbuttoned in the
This is cooler than a t-shirt, because it's
ventilated: you don't have sticky clothing
insulating you and keeping the heat in, like with a
t-shirt. And even though it's cooler than a
t-shirt, it still protects you better than a
t-shirt, because it covers your arms completely and
the back of your neck better. Women, of course, can
still use this trick by simply wearing a sports bra
under the shirt.
(2) Soak your shirt in
No matter what kind of shirt you wear, soak the
top half in water before you head out. This
is built-in evaporative cooling, and keeps you
very cool for the first 15-30 minutes. Soak
only the top half because otherwise your
pants/shorts will get wet and won't dry so
(3) Use a
Fill a small sprayer bottle with ice water and
mount it to the second water bottle cage on your
bike. Misting yourself with cold water on occasion
is incredibly refreshing. Or if you want to be more
elaborate, go for Kit O.'s suggestion: "You can get
a device called a 'Misty Mate' at Academy or other
outdoors stores. Fill it with ice water, hang it
over on the handlebars, and clip the hose to your
shirt. When you turn it on it will mist you nicely
while you ride."
(4) Avoid biking during
the hottest hours of the day.
Patrick Goetz writes: "The final thing no one
has mentioned is the simplest of all: just avoid
biking during the hottest hours of the day. I bike
to work in the morning when the air is still
comfortable and the sun at an angle, and leave in
the evening under similar conditions. What a
perfect excuse to suggest going to a 4-day 10 hour
schedule during summer months. Otherwise, I save
errands for either early morning or late evening
hours whenever possible. To paraphrase an old
saying, only mad dogs and republicans go out in the
heat of the midday sun, and republicans are always
out in their air-conditioned 3-ton SUV's, so they
don't really count, and mad dogs have good skin
protection. Keep yourself busy indoors between May
and September at 12 and 5."
(1) Don't dress too
You'll heat up naturally after 10-15 minutes of
riding, so you should be slightly chilly when you
start out. If you're warm when you start, then
you'll be hot in 10-15 minutes, and soak your
clothes with sweat.
(2) Wear a cloth
A lot of your body heat escapes through your
head. Wearing a cloth hat will help you retain
heat, and keep your ears warm too. If you wear a
helmet you can still wear it over your hat; just
loosen the helmet straps a little. If a hat
interferes with your helmet, you can wear an
earwarmer headband instead.
Another alternative is a cycling hat with a
bill, which will keep rain sprinkles and mist out
of our eyes.
(3) Don't wear
Wear clothes made of Lycra, Polypropylene,
Thermax, or Drylete, not cotton. Cotton retains and
holds that moisture against your skin, which will
chill you to the bone. Also, cotton takes forever
to dry, so your clothes won't dry at work in time
for your ride home. Hi-tech fabrics, on the other
hand, wick the moisture away from your skin and
disperse it, allowing you to stay warm and dry.
Polypropylene socks and a long sleeved
polypropylene undershirt or cycling jersey would be
the basis of any cold weather riding ensemble.
There are many choices in materials and styles,
but anything is better than nothing.
(4) Wear a
You can get them in bright yellow or orange so
you'll increase your visibility as well.
Contributions by Robert Far and Fred