Cycling and summer, the romantic combination that sees long, drawn out afternoons, balmy mornings and meticulously procured tanlines.
It also means riders need to be a bit more savvy when it comes to protecting themselves from the sun's harmful rays, dehydration, and simply keeping cool when the legs are burning during a hard day out.
Winter seems to come around each year demanding a long list of paraphernalia, from multiple layers to indoor trainers to ‘wet weather tyres’. Summer invites stripping away all the excess and simply getting out on the bike. WAIT! Not so fast, you eager beavers, read on for our take on essential items that will make pedalling through the heat that much more bearable.
Insulated Large Volume Water Bidons
Ride more, sweat more, need to drink more! Sometimes two standard bidons just aren’t enough, and being caught out far from home without a tap in sight is bad news. Moreover, when the heat is persistent, your bottled water can end up tasting like a swig of weak tea as it sits and boils in the sun.
The answer is a CamelBak Podium Big Chill water bidon, an insulated sport bottle that keeps your water cooler longer. A double-walled bottle construction uses closed cell foam technology to keep your water cold twice as long as a standard bottle. Sound excessive? When you are parched and tired, you will savour the extra fluid and have your thirst quenched with cooler liquid. The best idea is to fill your bidon halfway, freeze overnight and top up with water in the morning.
Summer Base Layers
Wearing more to keep cool? It sounds counter-intuitive, but adding a base layer to your summer kit can actually help make the heat manageable.
Summer base layers are designed with light, breathable fabric that wicks moisture away from the body to keep you cool and dry, as well as providing thermo-regulation to keep your core temperature consistent. Moreover, the quality of materials means comfort and durability, outlasting the life of many lightweight jerseys on their own. It also adds an extra layer of protection between your skin and the tarmac should you fail to keep it rubber side down.
Cycling Apparel company Assos is our pick because it has developed a unique approach to layering called the ‘ALS’ for Assos Layering System. The idea is that you can select your clothing combination based on the climate, with clothing within that range all working together to provide optimum temperature regulation. Starting from the base up, the Assos Insul NS.skinFoil summer evo7 sleeveless base layer is made of a moisture-wicking lightweight fabric and is likely outlast cheaper competitors over the season. The body-hugging, sleeveless design means it fits well with lightweight short sleeve summer jerseys.
It borders on common sense to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun. Not only do good quality sunglasses actively protect from UV rays, they also provide impact protection and prevent debris from entering your eyes.
Cycling specific eyewear is a step up from your standard fashion sunglasses, as they are designed to curve around your head, fit with a helmet and provide extra impact protection, the latter certainly worth considering when travelling at high speed with an exposed face.
Additionally, many brands will have an option for polarization (an extra glare-reducing layer) or photochromic lenses, which transition from clear to dark in response to the light.
The POC Do Blade is a dedicated sports frame, injected in grilamid for low weight and durability. It allows for great flexibility with the option to change your lens according to the conditions. The rubber inserts and the adjustable nose piece in hydrophilic rubber keeps the frame firmly in place. The lens tints have been optimized for road cycling, increasing contrasts on the road surface and helping you to spot irregularities, holes and gravel in time. The anti-fog and ripel treatments help keeping fog, dirt and grime off your lenses and also makes water pearl off the lens for unimpeeded vision, WIN.
Do NOT saddle up sans-sunglasses and be the one squinting in the sun!
A Well Ventilated Helmet:
Aero helmets might be outselling all others, but along with marginal gains comes a compromise; ventilation. Not so much of an issue in the cooler months, but summer you will be wanting as much breeziness through your dome as you can get. We lose a whole bunch of sweat through our heads and having the airflow available thanks to clever ventilation will make a huge difference to your ride comfort.
Our pick for a summer-ready helmet is the Bell Stratus MIPS. Boasting a sleek low profile design, the Bell Stratus features 18 vents but retains its aerodynamic look and lightweight feel. To keep the sweat out of your peepers, the ‘Overbrow Ventilation System’ pulls cool air in through the front and pushes it through an air-channel matrix to reduce overheating. This model also includes MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) for added protection in certain types of impacts. Available in a few cool colours, there is a Bell Stratus for every kit.
Fresh Summer Kit
Even if you already have some cool kit, chances are it was hidden away beneath winter layers or sitting in your draw, looking tired from last sunny season saddle-time. Freshen up the motivation with a summer specific kit, which will optimise ventilation, moisture wicking and provide UV protection. Additionally, the long days and increased participation in cycling mean you can show off your new threads and conditioned quads.
Australian boutique brand MAAP know all too well the nuances of riding in the summer, it's range caters well for lightweight and breathability. The Grade Pro Light is the lightest weight jersey the range.
The unique gridlock material gives a weightless feel that’s highly breathable and hard-wearing. The anti-bacterial treatment keeps the jersey fresh during those sweltering days and long rides. The ultralifght material is treated so that it actually has a mechanism to reflect heat in direct sunlight. This kit contains a combination of three premium textiles to regulate your body temperature and provide critical UVA and UVB-protection from direct sunlight.
The Italian made Grade Pro Light is available in both men's and women's specific cuts, and is sure to be your second skin for summer riding.
Summer means sweat, and nothing wrecks your bar tape quicker than sweaty mitts. A set of lightweight, breathable gloves with the fingers exposed will provide not only comfort, but protect the vulnerable skin on the back of your hands from the sun. Especially helpful given that many riders will often overlook applying sunscreen to the back of the hands.
The Azur S5 Glove has a stretchy breathable material, a terry towel wipe on the thumb to wipe away excess sweat and are easy to remove. The gel padding also relieves pressure on the bars which can become a problem after long hours on the bike, which are inevitable thanks to long hours in the day! These gloves are functional and affordable, so load up on a few pairs so you can count on being prepared should one of your gloves go missing.
It doesn’t take a nutrition expert to know that riding in the heat results in more sweat loss and therefore greater risk of dehydration.
Hydrating properly with the help of sodium and electrolytes will mean your body can uptake the water and use it to adequately prevent cramping and fatigue, instead of passing straight through you. The benefit of pre-mixed hydration formulas is that the electrolyte ratios are already in place, so you don’t have to have a chemistry major in order to nail your optimal hydration.
There is a wealth of reading to be found about the importance of proper hydration, but we are going to suggest Pure Sports Nutrition for a natural flavoured, not-overly-sweet hydration mixture that is backed by science
The drink base uses real freeze dried fruit, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. It is preservative free, actually tastes refreshing and offers very palatble flavours.
It seems like a no-brainer, but sunscreen application is too often neglected in favour of a ‘summer aesthetic’. Even if you are only planning on heading out for a short ride, just 15 minutes of exposure to high UV rays can inflict long-term damage on your skin. Cyclists should select a sports sunscreen, which is formulated specifically for athletes as it will be sweat and water resistant, meaning it will stay on longer during exercise.
We like the Premax Sports Sunscreen because it creates its products on athletes specifically. The sunscreen is SPF50+, four hours water resistant, and best, non-greasy and quick drying so it is easy to apply and isn’t going to attract road grime to your body or ruin your nice kit. What’s more, Premax is the official product of Cycling Australia, so you can be sure it has been tried and tested by those who spend the most time on the bike!
Additionally, it is available in a handy 50ml package, which will fit nicely in the jersey pockets for a top up if you are out on a scorcher of a day.
Triathlon Club Membership
If you need a reason to go swimming but don’t want to give up riding and enjoy a run thrown in, get amongst the thousands of other multi-sport enthusiasts and crack some PB’s while keeping cool and having a good time. Summer is ripe with all levels of Triathlon, from beginners to professional events. See here to get a grip on the different triathlon formats and if you are really considering this superb summer suggestion, then see our Ultimate Guide to Buying a Triathlon Bike.
We hope this guide has helped you think about the best way to cycle through summer! You can shop a range of products like the above right here on BikeExchange
Imagery courtesy of CyclingTips and CorVos