What's the best weather for cycling in? Well, sunshine, obvs. If you asked 100 cyclists what conditions they would choose to ride their bike in, you can bank on pretty much all of them saying the same.
And who are we to argue? Nothing beats a sunny bike ride.
However, we all know the sun is a potent thing, not to be trifled with. And it can present different challenges to generic heat (we wrote about how to deal with heat on a bike here).
Here are our 9 Top Tips to ensure you love your sunny ride:
Hard to argue with this one. But here are a couple of points you may not be aware of:
- Make sure you apply it a good 15 minutes before you set off, to allow it to go to work on protecting your skin;
- SPF ratings are crucial - and SPF15 doesn't mean it allows you to stay in the sun 15 times longer than you could unprotected. It's about what proportion of the sun's harmful UVB rays it blocks. So SPF15 blocks 93% of UVB radiation, SPF30 97% and SPF50 98%;
- Don't think one application is enough - make sure you top up regularly, even with products that claim to be 'single application'.
Our top pick for suncream is Premax Sport Sunscreen - available here.
A good pair of protective shades are vital. Not only do they protect your eyes from damaging rays, they keep bugs, dust and general road detritus out of your peepers.
These days they're lightweight, stylish and so well fitted you'll hardly notice they're there.
Sunglasses - our picks
3. Arm sleeves
Not to be confused with arm warmers. These are made from thin, lightweight protective material designed to keep the sun at bay whilst not making you overheat.
We love them because they allow you to protect yourself, save on suncream and hassle, and accessorise your outfit all at the same time.
4. Shady stops
When you need to pause - to rest the legs, refuel, check on directions or put on more suncream - always pick a spot in the shade if you can.
It's often worth pedalling on a few minutes to find a friendly tree or building - not least because you'll ride better after a pause in the shade than one in the baking sun.
5. Jerseys aren't bulletproof
Many jerseys offer a degree of sun protection as part of their fabric. Indeed plenty mention this as one of their selling points. However, with the thinner material you'll probably favour on summer outings, even the most protective material will struggle to protect you on a long ride.
Lightweight 'mesh' style fabric can be brilliant for keeping you cool, but is especially vulnerable to the sun.
So don't be afraid to apply suncream all over, even where you think you'll be covered by your kit.
Summer Jerseys - current favourites
6. Helmets aren't solid
As with jerseys, it can be tempting to think once your helmet's on your head is protected. But remember, one of the biggest selling points of a modern helmet is it's ventilation, meaning... it has holes!
Wearing a cap underneath can be a brilliant way to plug these holes - and can also (perhaps unexpectedly) help to keep you cool. Find out how here, plus 8 other reasons why we love caps for cycling.
7. Ride earlier / later
Depending where you are in the world - and the year - the sun is usually at its most ferocious between the hours either side of lunchtime: roughly 11am to 3pm.
Riding outside these hours diminishes the dangers from the sun, and also has the advantage of cooler temperatures and - just maybe - less traffic.
8. Fingerless mitts
As with arm sleeves, wearing something extra can seem odd to the uninitiated.
With gloves, however, the logic is clear: the material helps protect the back of your hands - arguably the part of you most directly exposed to those pesky rays.
Other advantages include:
- Better grip on potentially sweaty handlebars
- Padded comfort to prevent blisters and soreness on longer rides
- The opportunity to accessorise your outfit into something special!
Fingerless Mitts - the Hot List
9. The 4 Rs
Forget Reading, Writing and Arithmetic - the 3 most important Rs for cyclists have always been:
- Rehydrate - make sure your bottles are filled (and emptied) regularly
- Refuel - don't run out of solid fuel, whatever your choice
- Repeat - keep at it, especially on longer rides
The fourth R brings us full circle: Reapply. Keep the sun at bay by regular reapplication of suncream.
That way your idyllic sunlit ride will live up to all those cycling fantasies that got you through winter!
Want further info from like minded cycling ladies?