Here in NW Florida we enjoy great weather practically year round for cycling. With only modest adjustments to your riding clothing you can maximize your cycling enjoyment whether cruising along the beach, road biking on the 30A or hitting the trails in one of our local State Parks.
During the Summer months our temps can get in the 90’s but rarely hotter especially close to the water or wherever the breeze can get to you. Also on the average Summer day we have those beautiful white fluffy cumulus clouds which provide temporary bits of shade as they slowly migrate overhead.
If you are enjoying a cruise along the beach, the only appropriate attire is a comfortable swimsuit. If you start to overheat find the nearest place to lock your bike and take a dip in our beautiful emerald Gulf waters. If you don’t want to have the salt water residue then go to one of the many public beach entrances which have showers available. And in the month of August the shower water may be cooler than the Gulf.
For road or all-terrain cycling here’s a refresher on some hot weather strategies which might make your time on the pedals more enjoyable.
(please note, these are just common sense guidelines. If you are planning an intense hot weather activity consult a qualified expert)
TIME OF DAY: When planning your trip take into consideration the start and finish time of your ride. During hot weather avoid riding between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. In the Summer months you will have plenty of daylight to ride. Here on the NW Florida Coast during Summer months it starts to get light at 5:00 am and sunset at 8:00 pm there are a lot of hours available for multi-hour rides that are not during the ‘heat of the day’.
HYDRATE: Sweating is the body’s primary means of keeping cool. If you are not hydrated, or don’t stay hydrated you will not be able to sweat and will overheat… NOT GOOD! Most people already know that staying hydrated is necessary for good idea overall health. Water is required for the proper functioning of our bodies, and a regular intake throughout the day allows our bodies to effectively process the water.
So assuming that you are not starting from a hydration deficit, you don’t need to drink a gallon of fluid before riding on a hot day. All you need to do is drink -slowly is preferred, a 16oz sports drink (of your choice) an hour before your ride. For long rides take enough fluids (a combination of water and sports beverages) so that you can take sips throughout your ride. The idea is to maintain consistent intake without overwhelming your digestive system. If your ride is longer than a couple of hours you should plan on taking a break ideally in an air conditioned location. Pay attention to your body, it will ‘tell’ you if you are getting low on fluids. If you begin to feel dizzy or if you get stomach cramps it’s time to call it a day. Head to the movie theater for a cool break or go take a cool bath. If you have a pool that has shade, go for it but try to avoid direct sun exposure until you feel completely refreshed.
ATTIRE: Loose or tight, dark or light, covered or uncovered? There is still a lot of debate on this topic. What we are liking these days is tight, light and covered. A tight high-wicking jersey is ideal, if you get a short sleeved version make sure you use sunscreen on those arms. Get a front zipper as opposed to a pullover. For all day rides take an extra one you can change into halfway into your ride. The color black is always popular and while you are riding and the wind is blowing over you it’s fine, but as soon as you slow or stop you will pay the price. Get white or light colors for your jersey, shorts and helmet.
BREAKS: If you are riding the 30A during the Summer you will be taking breaks as traffic and pedestrians will abound in Watercolor and Seaside. If you are starting your ride at either end, these are good midpoints on the route. If you are planning a non stop 20 mile blast you will need to leave by 5am between April and September.