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Commuting 101: Top Five Tips for Staying Safe in the Heat

by Commute by Bike

This week is smashing heat records across the US. It’s important that you stay safe during your ride to and from work. Here’s five tips you shouldn’t go without:

  1. Leave Early – Hit the road before things really heat up. Check with work to see if they’ll allow you to knock off early on the hot days that you clock in before normal time.
  2. Take your time – If you can’t leave an hour early, try 15 minutes. That way you can pedal slower, relax and keep your body temperature low.
  3. Drink Water – My commute is only 20 minutes one way so I usually skip the water bottle, but on the really hot days you’ll want to opt for some liquid even on the shorter rides.
  4. Wear Breathable ClothesWe had a discussion about this awhile back and I’m one that usually opts for the cotton tshirt and shorts, however on the really hot days grab your wicking tshirts and lycra to keep you cooler.
  5. Protect Your Eyes – And I don’t mean sunglasses. A headband or handkerchief under your helmet will catch the sweat so your eyes can stay open and on the road.
 
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22 Responses to “Commuting 101: Top Five Tips for Staying Safe in the Heat”

  1. Ghost Rider says:

    My commute is only 20 minutes, too (a little over 4 miles one-way), and I drink an entire 28 ounce bottle of water! Even on cooler days!

    20 minutes of exertion in the heat can put someone into dangerous dehydration…merely suggesting that water “might” be a good idea for long or extremely hot rides is BAD advice.

    Drink early and often, regardless of the weather, and riders won’t suffer dizziness or any of the other terrifying effects of dehydration. Can you imagine fainting from the heat in the middle of traffic? It could happen with such a cavalier attitude towards fluids!

  2. Hak says:

    I’ve found that a thin headband works well under my helmet to keep the sweat out of my eyes. It’s 110 degrees here in Las Vegas so it can get a bit toasty on the bike. One headband that actually has some engineering in it is the Halo. You can do a Google search to get more info. It’s much better than a doo-rag and I like how thin it is. FWIW, I have no affiliation with the company that makes them.

    hak

  3. Fritz says:

    If you need 28 oz in 20 minutes, you were probably dehydrated to start with. It takes your body a full hour to absorb 28 oz of fluid.

    It takes nearly 20 minutes just for the water to get from your gut into your bloodstream. Drink before the ride if you’re riding in the heat.

  4. Fritz says:

    I forgot to mention: I used to have a 20+ mile bike commute from Irving to North Richland Hills, TX across DFW Airport and the “Mid Cities” of Euless, Bedford and Hurst. I arrived home coated in salt from my sweaty 90 minute commute in 100 degree temps. I hydrated myself before the commute and I emptied two 20 oz bottles every morning and every evening on the ride.

  5. Ghost Rider says:

    I drink over a gallon a day, all told — well before, during and after a ride. In hot weather, you just CANNOT drink too much water!

    It’s not really a question of needing water — if you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. It is more about getting in the habit of drinking all the time, thirsty or not, hydrated or not. If you get in this habit, dehydration is never an issue. Maybe it comes from being in Florida, where you begin to sweat profusely the minute you walk out the door.

  6. Logan says:

    agreed. just drink water all the time. my gf and I each have a couple water-bottles that are always with us.

  7. Fritz says:

    Ghost, you can drink too much water. Endurance athletes have died from drinking too much water. Local to me, a woman died this year during a radio contest from drinking too much water. See this article on hydration and hyponatremia.

  8. DanC says:

    Ghost, hope you don’t feel like we’re piling on but the key word is: hyponatremia. It describes a dangerous condition caused by over-hydration — drinking to the point where sodium levels in the blood become so low a medical crisis is at hand.
    For more details see the excellent: RoadBikeRider.com Newsletter I agree with you drinking plenty of water is extremely important, but all things in moderation.

    Finally I must not forget to complete you other thoughtful comments.

    Regards,
    -DanC

  9. Darcy says:

    My commute is about the same and I usally always carry water with me but do not drink it. Anyway, it sure has gotten hot out, and at work I have upped my water intake and cut back on the coffee (air-conditioned), which has worked for hydration!

  10. Ghost Rider says:

    Perhaps my comment that you can’t drink too much water was over the top — obviously, you CAN! Thanks for the article links to hyponatremia. Very informative…apparently, I’m not a salty sweater and will continue to chug (but I will consider adding some sodium replacement drinks in there as well).

    What I objected to was the initial post that water (or other fluids) was to be treated as an option rather than MANDATORY equipment during the hot months. Carrying something to drink is every bit as important as carrying a spare tube or repair tools, even if you don’t drink much of it.

  11. sch says:

    Another hot weather trick is to wet down your shirt in a bucket of water just before you get on your bike. I’ve tried wicking t-shirts and seersucker cotton shirts and they both work well. In Tucson, AZ they are generally dry within 15-20 minutes. I don’t know how well this would work in a humid climate, though.

    Always stop in the shade when it’s an option.

    Water or some other hydration option is a necessity. If I don’t drink it on the way, I do later on.

  12. Mike says:

    I’m turning into a huge fan of wool clothing, even for the hot days – just make it thin wool. It’s got 10 million years of product development for keeping mammals going in all weather!

    My commute is 9 miles one way. Mostly downhill to work. I take it easy in the morning. I take water, but don’t need much.

  13. RedBikeGirl says:

    I feel like such a wuss lately. I’ve stopped riding because of the heat. The early morning rides to work were okay, but in the evening, when I got home, it was just taking me too long to cool down and for my heartrate to come down. I’ll start again in late September when it cools down just a little.

  14. OJshakewell says:

    Call me a wuss, but when the thermometer breaks 95, I just take the bus.

  15. Rider says:

    Headband? Yes, and I swear by the Halo.

    Where I ride, it is very hot, very humid. I’ve had sweat pour into my eyes, blinding me in traffic. So I tried headbands, which work for awhile, but then … saturation and .. a gusher!

    Nothing worse than sweat and sunscreen getting in your yes.

    The Halo doesn’t absorb the sweat, it just diverts it away from your face. So, no gusher. Works great.

    Comfortable to wear, too.

    Just a tip for other Southern riders.

  16. Johnathan Felton says:

    I rode in the heat yesterday. I’m in Houston, and it was 94. It was partly cloudy at least, but still humid. Sunscreen helps, and I try to avoid the heat when I can. I try to wear light weight breathable clothing. Also I try to only carry essentials so I’m not packing extra weight on a hot day. Staying hydrated is essential. I drink water before I leave, and carry a bottle with me. On long commutes I take water and rest breaks.-and I pace myself. I refill the bottle during the day for the trip home. I drink after the ride. I refill it at home for the next day. I keep a full bottle with me. You needn’t carry much- just refill what you have and youll do fine- esp in hot humid places.

  17. aX3L says:

    My commute went down from 50km to 3km, in Juarez Mexico, next to El Paso, so when i.´s summer time i.´s hot as hell, my words of wisdome are: drink some sport drinks they rehidrate better than plain water, i got dehidrated this summer because i was drinking just water on 95 degrees wheather

  18. Allie says:

    Headband is a great suggestion – will make note!

  19. easy rider says:

    Instead of a headband you can use a Kotex. Just peel and stick to keep you fresh and dry.

  20. Roger L. Waggener says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_intoxication

    All the links above are dead.
    I’ve added a pertinent link to a Wikipedia topic for future readers.

  21. [...] record heat continuing across the U.S. southern plains, south and southeast, cyclists are reminded to drink plenty of water to counteract the loss of fluid. Remember, though, that it’s possible to drink to much water [...]

  22. snuzzled says:

    6. Don’t forget sunscreen! And make sure it’s sweat-resistant and to reapply often. I got some minor sunburn earlier this year, it isn’t fun.

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