Warm summer nights usually means hot summer days, and that means riding in the heat. And I'm not just talking about the temperatures being hot or kind of uncomfortable. I mean knock-down, drag-out, pizza oven-searing heat like it sometimes gets here in Silicon Valley. Recently the county medical officials report advised us to stay indoors for any activity, not just exercise.
My advice is, if you don't want to ride in the heat, then don't. There are enough medical conditions, many of them critical or life threatening, which can occur when riding in the heat. If you really don't want to go riding, that's OK.
If you have a bunch of type A friends or if you are type A and just have to work out, head on over to the gym and get your groove on there. No one should feel forced to ride in extreme conditions.
If you do want to ride in the heat and you're not mentally certifiable, then there are a few things that you can do to make things as enjoyable as possible. Here are four useful tips you can use to beat the summer heat.
Ride Early and Late
The first thing you can do is to change the time of day you ride. Early morning is the coolest part of the day. If you can get out at sunrise, as many of my friends who live in Arizona do in the summertime, that can cut the riding temperature by as much as 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The evenings are also a cooler part of the day and are reasonable alternative for those who can't get out in the morning. But if it is really hot, the decrease in temperature in the evening can be minimal. And, if you do go out in the evening, use a light if you are trying to squeeze in a ride just before it gets dark.
Use Geography to Your Advantage
Playing the geography game can also help. Adiabatic cooling means that the air temperature cools by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet of altitude gained. If it is hot down low, go high! When the heat descends on Boulder, head up into the Rocky Mountains. You can either climb up to higher ground and get in a workout or drive up to altitude and start the ride from there.
Another geography trick is to pick areas that are not as hot. The air is usually cooler close to the coast. If you're stuck in a hot valley, a short trip over to the coast might provide more pleasant temperatures for exercising.