PHUKET: Whether we Phuket-based cyclists like it or not, the 2016 season is going to be one of the hottest on record with the El Nino effect continuing to bring the Andaman region all sorts of problems.
To keep on enjoying your riding throughout 2016, there are a number of simple responses that local cyclists should make to the extreme temperatures we will be facing.
Firstly, ride as early in the day as you can, and ride in the shade and where there are cooling breezes, such as the Nai Harn Lake, Bang Wad Dam and Mai Khao loops.
With the glorious sunrises and clean, empty beaches at ride’s end for a refreshing swim, early morning riding is certainly the best response to the heat, but sadly is not an option available to everyone.
If you have to ride when the ambient temperature is higher, either in the early evening, or worst of all, during the main part of the day, there are a number of precautions you should take.
First and foremost is good hydration.
Before you set off to ride in the heat, drink a lot of water, up to two liters, as you’ll sweat it all out as you ride.
While you’re riding, and long after you finish your trip, keep on drinking. Also, use room-temperature water, as cold water and ice shock your system and are harder for your body to absorb.
Another use for water is pouring it over your hot body. Or you can get a similar effect more efficiently by soaking a bandana with cold water and tying it around your head under your helmet. Cooling down your head will help cool your entire body.
Avoid salty and spicy foods before and after hot rides and eschew all dehydrators, such as alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks. Load up on healthy protein and carbohydrates before and after riding. Sports drinks are useful for replacing the sodium chloride and potassium that you lose through sweating.
Another essential in hot weather cycling, especially if you are riding solo, is the ability to recognize and understand what is happening if you become heat-stressed.
Make sure you have a mobile phone with you at all times, and if you start to feel groggy or unwell, get in the shade and call for help immediately.
Proper clothing is essential. Cover your skin as much as possible with lightweight fabric to protect you from the sun. Lightweight natural fibers are the most comfortable and avoid dark colors which absorb more heat.
Wear a cap with a peak under your helmet if the sun troubles your eyes. Good quality sunglasses are also essential.
Finally, make sure your bike is well tuned up so you aren’t working any harder than you have to.
Top off your tire pressure every few days and make sure your chain is greased and gears well-adjusted so that you can use the full range on all of them.
Hot weather biking isn’t for everyone, but if you put some thought into how you dress, take it slowly and always have water and snacks on hand, you’ll be able to enjoy cycling right through Phuket’s coming season of hot wheels.
— Baz Daniel
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