As I write this the Tampa area is on pace to break their record for consecutive days above 90 degrees. Of course if we only rode on days where the temperature was perfect with no chance of rain we’d wouldn’t have very many days to ride.
At some point even moving a highway speeds cannot cool down the hot muggy air. Add a stretch through town with traffic and it’s not just our engines overheating.
Some simple steps can help mitigate the heat but ultimately it’s up to each of us to know our personal limits and plan accordingly.
Cover up – Exposed skin should be protected by sunscreen. A mesh jacket will allow the wind through and capture moisture to provide a cooling effect. A hot day is not your queue to turn you bike into a tanning bed and wear as little as possible.
Hydrate – Drink often and before you’re thirsty. If you think you’re drinking a lot but you haven’t need a restroom break, you may not be replacing fluids fast enough. Sports drinks (avoid those with caffeine) are also beneficial for replacing lost electrolytes. The insulated bottles, like Yeti, Rtic, etc really do hold ice better than almost anything else. We leave the house with at least one fully frozen water bottle and now an insulated bottle of iced drink as well. Amazingly the frozen water bottle is often melted before the first ride break while the insulated bottle still has most of its ice.
Ride earlier in the day, quit earlier – Besides riding before the day’s highest temperatures you’ll be off the bike before the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms. A lite rain may feel good on a hot day but it will make the roads more dangerous. It seems the hotter the day the more intense the afternoon/evening thunderstorm will be. All the more reason to be off the street before it arrives.
Cool down – Take more breaks than you normally would. Spend a few more minutes inside the air conditioned quick mart. (Bonus tip: Stop at a convenience store that advertises a “beer cave”. Not for the beer but to use the walk in cooler!) You can also carry cooling garments in your bags – neck wraps, bandannas, vests. These are great to dip in water and wear. As the water evaporates it will cool the skin.
Medical help – Did you quit sweating or starting having chills? See any of these conditions: Confusion, Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration), Dizziness, Fatigue, Headache, muscle or abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea? Get off the bike and get medical help. It is always better to be checked out and know your status than press on. Watch out for each other as sometimes we are not our own best judge.
We’ve already had a few days where having a bowl of ice water and towels waiting in the garage was a welcome sight. In May, while visiting VA, two of us went into a water bottle barrel like we were bobby for apples. The impact of the heat should not be overlooked. Without care heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke and have deadly consequences.
Ride safe, ride often.