Surviving The Summer Months: Hot Weather Mountain Biking Tips
The summer heat is settling in for a couple of months of pure hell as we attempt to keep the stoke alive and continue to put rubber against dirt. Throughout different parts of the world, the blistering heat keeps its ugly face around for days or months. Sometimes this comes coupled with extreme humidity like we get in the southeast, or dry desert like our friends on the west coast. Where ever you may live, there are some adjustments you have to make as you hit the trail during the warmer sections of the year. As much as we wish we could hit the trail like the first day of spring with extended daylight hours, the new found heat presents a different scenario that we have to prepare for in advance.
How To Mountain Bike In The Summer Heat
Here are some tips and tricks to get through the summer months and still get in the ride time that keeps your sanity.
- Change Your Ride Times – Look…we all like to sleep in every now and then, but when you hit the trail between 10-12, you are setting yourself up to ride during the hottest part of the day. By getting up earlier and hitting the trail early in the morning, you can take advantage of the coolest part of the day and get your ride in. The flip side to this is riding during the later hours of the day, but you will not have as much time and it will not be as cool as the morning.
- Be Prepared To Be Slow – When you hit the trail during the high heat, be prepared to be off your regular pace by at least 15%. When the air is cool, your body gets in more oxygen through denser, cleaner air. It is also not working as hard to keep cool, so that energy goes to your legs. During the summer months, your body has to work harder to keep the correct temperature and do that with less fuel (oxygen). So…as you hit the trail…realize you are not going to be at your spring prime and take more time to warm up. You will also not be blasting through singletrack like a sunny and 65 degree day.
- Bring Extra Nutrition and Water – You are going to consume much more water and nutrition on hotter days. Be sure to bring extra of each of these as you hit the trail. Also, plan out your route and if there is a water stop…try to have it close to the 1/2 way point of the ride for a refuel.
- Bring the Lighter Bike - For those of us that have different horses for different courses, it might be a good idea to bring the lighter rig for hotter days on trails where it doesn’t really matter. While weight isn’t everything, bring your less slack, more xc oriented bike will allow you to use more energy for the ride and less energy pedaling up the hill.
- Wear Breathable Riding Clothes and Equipment – Your body is going to be much cooler if it can expel the heat. By wearing light jerseys with front zippers and lighter, more vented helmets, we can get rid of the power robbing heat by letting it get out and away from our bodies quicker. Naturally, the body wants to expel heat from the top of your head, so anything you can do on the top half of your body is going to achieve the best results (ex. sleeveless jersey, removing the visor from your helmet, etc.). It is also a good idea to make sure these items are a neutral, light color so they are not attracting heat.
The summer months are not a time to hang up the mountain bike and wait for fall. By taking some precautions and adjusting your riding slightly, you can get in as many miles during the heat as you do during the prime riding season.
Image by Asiful Haque
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