Hot weather calls for a cool head

Rest in the hot weather“Summer time and the living is easy.” So the song goes. But while it’s tempting to get out in the sun and enjoy yourself, when it really gets hot you need to take some extra care.

If you’re out for a while the two very real risks you face are dehydration and heat exhaustion. And they can sneak up on you. Take some precautions though and you can still get out and enjoy your ride.

Avoid riding in the middle of the day. Early morning is generally the coolest, so getting out of bed a bit earlier than usual has its rewards. During daylight savings it’s still light enough to go out in the evening. It can still be quite warm, but at least the sun is lower. If you have to ride when it’s hot, take it easy. This is no time to try for a personal best on the way home from work.

No matter how short your ride, take water with you and make sure you drink while you’re riding. Wind and heat may be evaporating it, but you’re still sweating. You can lose up to 1.5 litres of fluid an hour. So even a 20 minute ride can dry you out if you haven’t been drinking enough all day. Hydrating before you go out is a good idea too. It means you’re not depleted before you start.

Thick smoke from bushfires has been an ugly feature of this summer, and we may see more of it before the season is over. It’s not the best stuff to get into your lungs. People who suffer from asthma and other breathing-related conditions are always advised to stay indoors on smoky days. But even if you don’t have such problems, it’s probably wisest to put your exercise session off until the air clears.

Your body is a rather delicately balanced machine and you want to keep it running smoothly for many years. Listen to it carefully in hot weather. Don’t dismiss early signs of distress in yourself or your companions.

If you start getting a headache, feeling dizzy or weak, your pulse becomes rapid and weak, or your sweating slows down – STOP. Find some shade or a shop with air conditioning and cool yourself down. Drink, but avoid caffeinated drinks such as Coke, tea or coffee. Go for a sports drink or water.

Take it easy on those hot days and you’ll stay fighting fit.

See you on the road soon, God willing.


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