We all love heading out on a glorious, sunny day for a bike ride!
While nothing beats riding in the sun, it’s important to be careful. Leave yourself too exposed and you could find yourself sunburnt, dehydrated, or worse. So, here are a few top tips to help you keep the UV rays at bay when you’re enjoying your cycling time.
Staying hydrated may seem like an obvious point, but it’s something that many riders often overlook or underestimate – you don’t want to come to the realisation that you don’t have enough water when you’re in the middle of nowhere!
Here are some key things to consider before you head out on a ride.
How much water do you need?
Always be prepared!
How much you need to drink will depend on the intensity and length of your ride plus the weather conditions. So, if you’re heading out on a multi-hour or high-intensity ride, carry as many water bottles as you can, and plan stops where you can top your bottles up.
Even for shorter rides, it’s best to carry more water than you think is necessary.
Top tip: It’s generally recommended that you drink around 500ml of water per hour on a cooler day and up to two litres on an extremely hot day – but again, this will also depend on the intensity and length of a ride, the weather and the individual (everyone sweats at different rates!).
How will you carry your water?
This is where pre-planning becomes essential.
Most bikes are designed to carry two water bottles. If you take a backpack, you may have room for one more and some road cyclists store one in their jersey’s pocket. But sometimes you can’t carry enough water for a full ride – so what do you do?
For road cyclists the solution is easy, as you’ll most likely be passing through lots of places with a shop – just make sure you remember to bring some money with you!
However, mountain bikers are more likely to be stuck on a trail in a remote location with no shops in sight. That’s where a hydration pack can come in handy. Usually holding anywhere between one to three litres, hydration packs are similar to backpacks except they store water.
There are lots of hydration packs available, and for a full day on the trails, the Camelbak Mule Hydration Pack is the ideal option. Its large reservoir holds up to three litres of water and it has an extra nine litres of space for any other essentials you need to carry.
Sometimes, hydration packs can be a great alternative to water bottles too. Like the lightweight Camelbak Hydrobak Light which carries up to one and a half litres of water, perfect for shorter rides and performance-orientated cyclists.
How often should you drink?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of only drinking when you feel thirsty, but by then you’re probably already on the road to dehydration.
Instead, aim to drink little but often. Get into the habit of regularly swigging from your bottle, making sure to start drinking from the moment you start your ride. If you’re getting to the stage where you’re having to down half a bottle in one go, you haven’t been drinking enough.
Additional heat from the sun means you’ll sweat more, but it’s not just liquids you’ll be losing – you’ll also lose valuable electrolytes.
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that are needed to help your body function while cycling – they affect everything from muscle contraction to your body’s ability to hydrate – so they need topping up!
That’s why you should consider adding an electrolyte supplement to one of your drinks like the SIS Go Electrolyte Sports Drink. These scientifically developed drinks replace key electrolytes lost in competition rides, training rides, or from simply exercising in the heat.
Keep well ventilated
Summer’s arrival means one thing – time for a short-sleeve jersey and shorts. With the chillier months now gone, there’s no need to pile on the layers, but you still need to think carefully about what you’ll wear.
Ideally, you should opt for clothing with breathable fabric and sweat wicking qualities – otherwise, you’ll find yourself baking in the sun. And it’s not just your torso that needs consideration, as your head and feet will welcome some added air flow. So, try to find shoes and helmets with high-quality ventilation.
A cycling cap is also a good option as these provide additional cover from the sun. The Boardman Cycle Cap is perfect as its fabric is designed to wick away sweat, keeping you cool and comfortable. Versatile, the cap can be used to provide shade from the sun but also doubles up as an extra layer on cooler days.
We know that the last thing you’ll want to do is put a long-sleeved jersey on if it’s a red-hot day, but for those who burn easily or struggle in direct sunlight, it may be the best option. Try and keep as much of your skin out of direct sunlight as possible and remember to…
Always wear sun cream!
If the sun decides to show up, start applying sunblock before you even leave the house.
Remember, the SPF isn’t about the level of protection that the sun cream offers, but instead how long you can stay out in the sun before it starts becoming less effective. If you’re not sure which SPF number you need for your skin type, then you can find out more at the Skin Cancer Foundation. It’s always worth remembering that sun cream will protect against UVA/UVB rays but is never 100% effective at preventing sunburn or skin cancer, so try and spend time out of the sun, especially at midday or on completely cloudless days.
Grab some shade…
Even if it’s only slightly sunny, take more breaks when riding than you usually would. Getting out of the sun completely every now and again is the best way to guard against sunburn, so use that as an excuse for a well-deserved break!
…and grab some shades!
Sunglasses not only help keep direct sunlight and glare out of your eyes (therefore making your ride a lot safer), but also help to protect your eyes from damaging UVA and UVB rays. Don’t be tempted to go for a cheap pair picked up on holiday, as there’s no guarantee that they’ll offer any protection at all. Buy from a trusted retailer and look for the CE mark, which shows that they adhere to European safety regulations.
Halford’s newest range of sunglasses all offer 100% UV protection, so you can keep your eyes on the road or trail.
Perfect for the sunniest of days, the Halfords Goggle Style Half Frame Sunglasses have polarised lenses that help define shadows and textures. An anti-fog design will also come in useful, preventing the inside of the lenses from steaming up – a common occurrence on warm days!
Enjoy your ride
As long as you’re well prepared, riding in the sun can be a great experience. Our outdoor time is precious and the health benefits of staying active while riding a bike outweigh any risks from the sun.
So, head out on those rides and enjoy your cycling adventures!
Follow our tips and you can head out on your ride confident that you’re prepared. Now warm rides are on your mind, why not head over to Halfords.com where you’ll find a range of summer cycling clothing, sunglasses and energy drinks.
You want to enjoy summer cycling adventures, you want Halfords!