Trail Ramblings: Heat Lovers, This Is Your Weather, But Stay Safe.

I hear some of you like to ride in the heat. More power to you. For the rest of us, we have to find ways to deal with it and to stay safe. The early morning ride is probably the best option, followed by the night ride, but commuters don’t have the luxury of picking the best time of day to ride. If you’re arriving to work drenched in sweat you already know to pack a change of clothes, including underlayers unless you want to sit in that soggy mess all day. If the air conditioning is cranked up so that the boss can comfortably wear a suit then you’re really uncomfortable and can even get chilled. I have a friend who has to sneak a a heater under her desk only in the summer.

The sun sleeves, calf sleeves, and the cotton shirt for around town.

I wear a long sleeved, loose, white cotton over-shirt when riding to work and I don’t have the option of changing clothes. Sometimes I wet it down for added air conditioning. I’ve recently added cycling gloves for commuting because the back of my hands get so hammered by the sun. In China, where there is an aversion to suntans and wind burn, it’s rare to see someone with exposed skin on a bicycle or scooter. Special aprons, face masks, and mitts are used on the scooters which change with the season, and many have sun shades over the top. I’ve even seen people riding holding umbrellas. I do not advise this. Our Chinese friend Tag who is visiting Lincoln must think it strange people are so willing to be uncovered in the sun. I will not go into the gory details of the need for sun protection because you already know this, but it may also keep you cooler to stay covered. You may not believe me, but it’s true.

Wearing sun sleeves last fall, I didn’t have the calf sleeves yet.

When out for the longer rides, like Sunday’s 115 miles but even for much shorter ones, I use sun sleeves and now calf sleeves for protection. I already wore knickers rather than shorts. The high tech fabric really does keep you cooler by wicking away the sweat and reflecting the sun. I know many cyclists want that hard-core tan line, but I want the protection more. I even sort of miss my Chinese face mask, which though worn for air pollution really protected my face more than sun screen. I still reflexively look for it when I’m strapping on my helmet, though I’m glad not to be wearing it in this heat. I do miss those shady country B-roads around Zhoukou in this weather, but am loving the gravel hills back home.

So that’s the message for this week. Stay safe and comfortable in the heat. Don’t forget your water, and protect your skin.