Keeping cool on your summer commute
The summer months are upon us, and the commute feels much more pleasant with the sun on your back than it does with a rain jacket and an inch of standing water on the surface.
Though summer riding is generally simpler, and requires slightly less preparation, there are a couple of simple changes we’d advise to make your summer commute more pleasant.
Invest in a cycling jersey, or sports top
In winter, you can often get away with covering your day-to-day clothes with a jumper, waterproof or warm jacket – ready to whip off once you get to your destination. Cooler temperatures mean you’ll sweat very little.
On a hot day, however, even a simple ride across town can get you a bit hot and sticky, which isn’t good if you plan to stay in the same clothes all day.
Cycling jerseys use materials that wick away sweat from the skin, absorbing it, so that you won’t get damp and cold. If you aren’t comfortable wearing a traditional velo style jersey, sports tops made for running or gym wear will likely carry the same properties.
The benefits you’ll get from a cycling jersey over a generic sports top include a closer fit, to prevent excess material flapping about in the wind, pockets for inner tubes and a pump, and often silicone grippers to stop the fabric riding up when you lean over the handlebars.
Think about swapping the backpack for panniers
Even the very best of cycling jerseys can struggle to do their job when a heavy backpack is placed over the top. On a hot day, wearing a backpack on your commute can result in a T-shaped sweat mark which you won’t appreciate when you get to your destination.
There are plenty of alternatives – panniers, rack bags and courier bags all being good options- check out our ‘Everyday Solutions’ post for more detail on each.
Getting a bit hot and sweaty doesn’t just cause an inconvenience – if you don’t rehydrate, you’ll feel sluggish and there is plenty of evidence to suggest dehydration affects brain function and physical ability.
Sweat contains electrolytes and salts, and though if you’re just riding gently it’s not essential that you replace these, an electrolyte drink will aid rehydration.
You don’t really need a carbohydrate energy drink unless you’re riding over 60-90 minutes, but you can replace lost electrolytes with tablets such as High5 Zero tabs. These have no calories, but taste nice (meaning you’ll be more inclined to drink when you should) and replace the good things you lose through sweat.
In winter, cycling glasses can be useful for keeping bugs, rain, fumes and debris out of your eyes, but in summer they are much more of an essential item.
Any sunglasses will do, but those designed for cycling will fit well under a helmet, and wrap around your face so that they don’t move around and cause irritation.
Many cycling glasses come with interchangeable lenses, that you can swap in and out depending on the weather – clear for wintery weather, yellow for cloudy days, and dark for sunny days. However, if you move one step up the rung you can opt for photochromic glasses. These colour change lenses react to conditions, changing to match the amount of sunlight.
Photochromic glasses are a touch more expensive, but they do mean that you don’t need to keep swapping lenses, there isn’t a chance of you losing lenses, and you’re sorted if conditions change on your ride.
Packable rain jacket
Frustrating as it is, summer weather doesn’t mean you’re safe from downpour. Of course, you don’t want be ruining your rides with a heavy jacket on the off chance that it may rain.
Packable water-resistant jackets are the perfect compromise. Though these will rarely keep you completely dry in downpour like a waterproof jacket will, they will keep the worst off, and they’ll roll up into your bag, pannier, back pocket or saddlebag, so you can forget all about it until the moment of need comes,
There are plenty of roll up water resistant jackets on the market, but one of the most popular versions out there is the Castelli Squadra.
Finally, remember to smile, and enjoy your ride in the sunshine.