Best ways to Beat the heat on your bike – How to cycle in Spain’s summer weather.

How to enjoy your Cycle tour when it's Hot outside

Road Bike Tour in Granada, Spain
Summer is coming and at long last, we can get out and cycle in it!  The world is changing, and we are seeing increases in temperatures across the board in all areas of the world. This of course presents a whole new set of challenges for cyclists globally. However, planning on cycling in southern Europe during its summer months of July, August and early September, need not be curtailed though if you plan your cycling accordingly. 

How to bike in the Heat

Cycling in the Heat
Having cycled in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, officially the hottest place on earth, where the cruel average yearly temperature is in the 35°C (95°F) range, I can say without hesitation, heat is not for everyone when cycling. 

Even if it is, it is crucial you know what your limits are and to stop very much before you get to them.  Heat can debilitate quickly and easy and is a dangerous thing to play with.

In Southern Spain, we do see the thermometer rise in July and August, though we still do love to ride or run during those hotter months.


So how do you take care while cycling in heat?

Drink, drink, Drink and then keep drinking

Cycling in AndaluciaIf you do enjoy exercising in heat like we do, make sure you have water on you. Always.  I like to throw electrolytes in it just to replenish those lost minerals that will be lost.  Even start hydrating the day before if you know you are going riding the next day.

There are many cafes on our cycling routes in Southern Spain so take every chance to fill up and keep drinking. One of the handy things I had in the Danakil was an insulated water bottle, so it doesn’t always seem like you are drinking tea so hot the water.  I also carried a Camelback hydration pack and if you are seriously cycling in Spain in the summer, I would recommend one.  Then there is no excuse of becoming dehydrated. 

You may not be able to plan your trip to other months, so plan your ride.

If you do choose to come to Southern Europe in those months, definitely arrive days early and acclimatise to the temperature.  It will help you immensely and it will not be such a shock.

         Cover up not Strip off - I know it seems against what you would think but cover up – avoid sunburn at all cost. Wearing loose clothes (I used a light man’s long sleeve shirt in the Danakil while cycling in this traditional area), helps as does sun screen of course.  Arm skins with UV filters are really great too for protection.  Don’t forget the back of your neck or ears either and wearing a light bandana under your helmet will also protect against the beating sun.

Something very useful is a cooling towel / necklace such as Ergodyne makes make in order to wear around the neck or have for afterwards to keep your body temperature down.

Keep drinking!  We know how popular Sangria, Cerveza and Tinto de Verano is but if you are still cycling, stick to water.

      Plan your day around your ride time

If you are cycle touring, get a good early start on the cycling and get those miles done before at least 13:00.  In the South here, the day only gets warmer and warmer, unlike in the Northern hemisphere, where 12:00 high noon can be the hottest part of the day.  Our warmest hours often are in the late afternoon when the mercury hits its heights. 

We suggest to our cyclists that although the sun only rises down here at 7:00am, if you want to leave at that time, let the hotel know the night before and they might leave a few things out for you to eat before leaving.  There are many cafes along our routes though, so you will soon be able to get your coffee at some point!

Embrace that Spanish Siesta 

on your cycle travels!

Try a Spanish Siesta
Another option is, don’t try and cycle in it but instead embrace the Southern European cultural experience of the afternoon siesta. Enjoy it and if on a fixed based tour, go out in the cooler hours of 19:00 for a short ride when there is still daylight. It is a pleasant time to be out.  The Andalucians love a late night for good reason!

Keep drinking!

Ease up on your Ride Expectations,

 mileage or gain

Cycling in Spain's Summer HeatDon’t push yourself to your limits getting up that hill.  It doesn't matter what terrain you are cycling, just remember to take it slowly. The heat is already adding to your load and elevating your heart rate. Monitor yourself and cycling buddies.

We suggest that if booking during June, July or August, perhaps pick a tour in the moderate or Easy range rather than Challenging. We also offer shorter options on some of our more challenging rides such as on the Alhama Fixed Base, which is at a higher altitude (1000m) than other spots but still don’t overexert yourself if you know it is going to be a very hot month.

Tours near water are always good and often have the advantage of off shore breezes. Some of our fixed base tours have pools or lakes or the Sea available to cool off in. All our hotels have air-conditioned rooms to provide comfort when you are back home. Try a tour like Cycle to the Med which is based high in Alhama (1000m), then down on the coast to go swimming after your cycle ride.

Don’t underestimate Mental preparation, 

it goes a long way

Whatever you do, don’t tell yourself how much you hate cycling in the heat.  The more you complain about it, the more you will be aware of it, the more it will literally be a hell for you and everyone else with you.  A positive outlook helps immensely when cycling in heat.

How to recognise heat stroke while cycling

and what to do about it.

Often progressing from other heat related problems such as dehydration, cramps, fainting, it is life threatening and usually affects those over 50 years old, though young people are not immune by any means. If your core temperature gets above 104 degrees, you have heat stroke and your body is now unable to cool yourself down.

Some symptoms of heat stroke to watch out for

·        Throbbing headache

·        Lack of sweating

·        Irrationality to belligerence – mood swings

·        Sick to Stomach or nausea

·        Muscle cramps

·        Rapid heart beat

 Get help and Call 911 / 112, and get that person to a shady place and remove any unnecessary clothing.  Applying ice wrapped in cloth or cold packs to your core areas, neck, groin, underarm may help your body cool down.   Wet the skin and fan it to provide a cooling breeze on the skin.

If near home, a cool bath will help.  Pure Ice should be used with caution and isn't recommended on extreme cases or with elderly / young children.

Here is the link to Saint John’s Ambulance Help Link to Heat Stroke for more information.

 
A cycle tour in Europe's summer

Cycling in hot weather may not be for everyone!

If heat is not your friend, we do offer options of guided and self guided tours in the cooler Northern Provinces of Spain of the Basque country, etc.. in those months such as our Coastal Camino, Green Spain or Famous Vuelta Climbs of the North or France`s Loire Valley or even Canada, all of which are lovely places to visit when it gets a bit toasty in Spain!

 


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