Summertime Riding Tips

Summertime Riding TipsAh yes, summertime is here again. With summer comes long days, more sunshine, sunburns and heat exhaustion, leading some to give up mountain biking in these months in favor of cooler temperatures.

For us die hard addicted folks who will ride any day, rain or shine, I offer the following tips to protect yourself in the warmer months.


How much water do I need? Well the all year round rule of thumb is that you need one liter (32 oz.) of water per hour of exercise. But during summer months you’ll need more than that, and you’ll also need to supplement your water intake with a hydration drink. I keep a bottle in the cage filled with things like Cytomax, Heed, Nuun, ZYM, Elixr, etc. It’s all a matter of personal choice when it comes to hydration drinks but at the least they should contain essential electrolytes like potassium, magnesium and sodium. Some drinks also include B6 and B12, which help to convert food into energy. I avoid drinks high in sugar, sucrose or really any ingredient ending in “OSE” because they’re all forms of sugar that don’t make my tummy feel well on hot days. Thinks like Gatorade and Powerade taste great and I recommend them for after ride hydration, but on the trail you want to keep your processed sugars to a minimum. Natural sugars like what’s contained in orange juice, apple juice, and cranberry juice are OK but the acidic nature of these drinks may lead to an upset stomach! And by the way, you should keep those drink tablets or mixes with you on the ride. When you’re low on water, it’s better to dump what’s left in your CamelBak into your bottle with a hydration tablet than drinking straight water. And when your friends are bonking in the heat, you’ll be their savior of the day with a hydration supplement!


Avoid dark colored jerseys. Good colors for summer are white, light brown, light grey and light blue. If you feel manly enough, you can wear fluorescent or pastel colors too!

Head sweats are a light colored “moisture whisking” material that fit your head like a beanie. They serve several purposes. (1) They keep sun off your unprotected head. (2) The material, similar to your cycling jersey, allows heat to escape and when soaked with sweat, actually cools your head. (3) You can dip the beanie in a cool stream to cool it down and put it back on your head which has additional cooling benefits. (4) They keep most of the sweat from your head out of your eyes. (5) You won’t look like a grizzly when you take off your helmet!

White arm sleeves not only protect against sun burn, but they also provide the same cooling effect as your head sweat. The sweat retained in the cloth reacts with air, causing a noticeable change in temperature to your arms.


Pay attention to your body heat and always look for shady spots to rest. DON’T STOP IN DIRECT SUN! I see so many people making this mistake. Standing stationary in the sun raises your body temperature because there’s no air flow. Don’t believe me? Measure your temperature now and then go outside and stand in the sun without moving for five minutes. Then go back inside and remeasure your body temperature. A 2-3 degree elevated body temperature above your normal 98.6 degrees is hazardous to your health!


For the entire day before a hot ride, you should be drinking more water than you usually do. Before your ride, measure your weight. After your ride, measure your weight. The difference is the amount of water you lost during your ride. 1 liter equals approximately 2.2 pounds. So do the math and be sure to intake the amount of water you lost, in pounds, after your ride. Hydration drinks are especially important after rides!


Most people can handle riding in the 80’s by at least using common sense and the protective ideas I’ve suggested. But riding in extreme heat waves in remote areas, like the desert, is just asking for trouble. If you have no choice but to ride in 90+ degree heat, you’re going to need 2 liters of water per hour of riding and time to take breaks for shade during the ride (every hour). You can survive heat and still enjoy a hot day ride, but you cannot survive without water. Plan your route accordingly!