As the summer months approach, we’re getting ready for an exciting summer packed full of adventures. For cyclists, this means tackling the unbeaten road on their mountain bikes, discovering new trails through bikepacking and cruising through the city on their road bikes.
But with the fun and excitement come safety precautions. According to the Met Office, this summer is expected to be one of the hottest on record. That means we need to stock up on sunscreen and stay hydrated, along with other hacks to help us stay protected from the sun.
Here, with Ben Mercer from the mountain bike division at Leisure Lakes Bikes, we look at some top advice on staying safe in the hot weather while reaping the benefits of the warm sun rays and your cycling routine.
Wear sun-protective clothing
When cycling, it’s essential to wear clothing that covers your skin and provides protection from the sun’s strong rays. While some high-performance cycling clothing may emphasise breathability, weight and moisture-wicking properties, it may be transparent and not offer sufficient sun protection, especially if you spend several hours on your bike.
In that case, wear sunscreen underneath or look for thicker materials, and full-coverage cycling clothing includes long-sleeved cycling jerseys, pants or leggings, and hats with wide brims or visors. Also, look for a mountain bike helmet and shoes with good ventilation.
You can also opt for clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings, which protect against the sun’s rays.
Applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and good UVA protection to any exposed skin 15–30 minutes before heading out on your bike is essential. And it’s equally important to top up your sunscreen 15–30 minutes after exposure to the sun.
Sunscreen products use a UVA star system to indicate the UVA protection strength, and it’s placed at the back of the product. We recommend looking for four or five stars. Other products have a UVA logo, meaning that the EU and the product have approved it provides well-balanced protection against both UVA and UVB.
Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if you are sweating excessively or using a towel. Don’t forget to apply to commonly overlooked areas such as your ears, the back of your neck, and your hands.
Drinking enough water will keep your body healthy and your skin hydrated. It's especially important when cycling in hot weather. Dehydration can lead to dry, cracked skin and worsen the effects of sun exposure.
How much water you need depends on the length and intensity of your cycling routine and the temperature. Generally, it’s recommended that cyclists drink between 500–1,000ml of fluid per hour.
Two bottles should be enough if you’re riding through more populated areas. If you’re riding in more remote places, ensure you have a litre of water between each refill. Make sure you factor in refilling stations in your cycling plan.
When cycling journeys, consider adding caffeine, electrolytes and carbohydrates as part of your hydration plan, as they will also help replenish you. Add them to separate bottles to ensure you always have access to plain water.
Sunglasses look stylish and keep you safe from direct sunlight and glare and protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays.
Choose sunglasses with UVA protection, wraparound designs that protect the sides of your eyes, and polarised lenses that reduce glare and eye strain. Make sure you buy your sunglasses from a trusted vendor and always look for the CE mark, which indicates that they adhere to European safety regulations.
Choose your route and timing wisely
Avoid cycling during peak sun hours, typically between 10 am and 4 pm if possible. Consider cycling earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun is not as strong. Also, choose a shaded route or one with less direct exposure to the sun. Take regular breaks in the shade during especially hot summer days.
Be aware of skin changes
If you notice any unusual or concerning changes in your skin, such as moles, freckles or spots, seek advice from your doctor. Early skin cancer detection and treatment can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment.
So, next time you gear up for a cycling adventure, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun’s
harmful rays. This will ensure a safe and pleasant cycling experience, adding it to your collection of exciting cycling memories.
Ben Mercer, commercial director at Leisure Lakes Bikes.