What to take with you on a summer ride
Heading out for a summer bike ride is bliss – fewer layers are needed and choosing kit to wear is much simpler when the likelihood of getting soaked is so much lower.
However, there are a couple of items that will help you enjoy your ride even more – here’s a look at some of the key things not to forget when you head out in the sun:
It’s hot, so you are likely to sweat more. This means you’ll be losing more fluid, and it’s important to keep those levels topped up. Dehydration can make you feel sluggish at best, and really very ill at worst.
Sweat contains lots of good salts and electrolytes, so if you plan to be getting quite a workout, it could be a good idea to use an electrolyte drink to top these up. If it’s a short ride (under 90 minutes), ‘Zero’ tablets from High5 will do the job – these have all you need, but no calories. If you’re out for longer, go for an energy drink which contains carbohydrates and electrolytes.
If you are going to be out for a couple of hours or more, a bit of food to take with you is definitely recommended.
It is worth remembering that at this time of year, you want to be avoiding anything that can melt. Provided you can keep it un-squished, a banana is certainly a good place to start, whilst a purpose designed cycling energy bar or gel will also do the job. Gels often also contain electrolytes, are convenient to transport, and will never melt. Whatever you choose, think high in carbohydrates, to keep you full of energy – foods high in protein or fat can make you feel sluggish.
We’ve all seen the ‘Chris Froome burn’ pictures, I trust?
Sun burn is uncomfortable, and not very good for you – so you mostly want to avoid it. Make sure you put some sun protection on when you go out. It is worth investing in a sports version, that doesn’t wash off in sweaty conditions, and last a few hours – Prosport, for example, is waterproof and lasts for 8 hours.
If you burn easily, or plan a long day out, take some cream with you for a top up, too – most chemists will have a smaller bottle, but if not, you can decant some into a travel container to take with you (check out the ‘holidays’ section of Boots.)
Small Plastic Bag
This applies in winter too, when rain can get into your phone or cash stash, but during summer it’s that sweat you need to worry about. Jersey’s for cycling do a great job of whisking sweat away from your skin, but a phone in a back pocket can sometimes suffer the effects as even the insides of pockets get sweaty. Keep your valuables and electrical items in a small plastic sandwich bag, that way you’ll know where everything is.
Some jerseys have a zipped ‘media’ pocket which is generally waterproof – this is a handy feature, but a plastic bag does the job, too.
Cycling gloves are an obvious choice in the winter – they are generally needed to prevent cold, numb fingers. However, sometimes people stop wearing them come summer, which is a mistake.
In summer, road riders tend to wear fingerless mitts, whilst those who ride off-road opt for full finger, lightweight summer gloves, which give them more protection from scrapes and branches.
As well as keeping hands warm in winter, cycling gloves will generally have padding on the palm to prevent numbness and pain from road vibrations or bumps over the trails. This helps reduce fatigue, and will keep you fresher for longer.
Unfortunately, what can start off as a beautiful day, can turn chillier and summer showers do happen. If you are lucky enough to have beautiful weather all day, an extra layer can still be helpful if you are stopping in a cafe, or planning some long descents which can get chilly.
A gilet is a sleevless option, which will keep the wind off your chest , whilst a packable is a water resistant jacket which rolls up to fit in a jersey pocket. Both of these are helpful in wind and rain, whilst arm warmers will just provide you with an extra layer of warmth should you stop and feel yourself calling down.
Phone, emergency cash, puncture kit
These items should go with you on any ride, come rain or shine. It’s always good to have contact with the world should you come across any problems, and a bit of cash or a debit card will be well worth the weight in your pocket should you need a taxi home or an emergency cake-and-cappuccino stop.
Though punctures are less likely in summer, sadly they don’t disappear – so don’t forget to be prepared.