DOWN THE TRAIL

Remembering Our Favorite Stories From 20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago, in the August 1997 issue, we wrote a story titled “How to Avoid the Bummer of Summer.” With August being the hottest month of the year in the northern hemishepre, we couldn’t think of a better topic to revisit this month.  The tips we unveiled in this article 20 years ago are still good advice today, and they are especially helpful as we continue to test bikes through the dog days of summer. Enjoy

Refresher course on Summer 101: Whether you are 10 years old and looking forward to summer vacation or are quite a bit older and punching the clock, summer brings expectations of freedom, warm nights, suntans and more time to ride your bike. Every summer you hope it will be better than the last, with visions of quitting your job and sailing to some remote island with nothing more than the clothes on your back, the sun on your face and all the time in the world to spin your wheels. That said, the bug bites, sunburn and excessive heat can keep you off your bike for days or weeks at a time. We decided to put together some of the most effective ways to help riders have their best summer season ever.

Rule 1: The Best Defense
We can’t stress enough the importance of fluid intake. The majority of heat-related issues could be solved with an extra glass of water. Water is the key to your body’s cooling system; without it, your body will shut down. While everybody is different, most experts agree that at least 4 ounces of fluid per 15 minutes of exertion is about the right ratio.

Rule 2: Keep Your Own Hours
Whenever possible, ride in the early morning hours or at night. The sun is hottest in the late afternoon thanks to what’s called “temperature lag.” This is the scientific name for the heating effect that’s caused by the sun warming the earth, and then the heat radiating off the ground later in the day. If possible, avoid riding in the late afternoon at all costs. Instead, plan your rides for the early-morning hours when the temperatures are coolest.

Rule 3: Design Your Ride Accordingly
It may seem obvious, but we advise riders to avoid hot and dusty fire roads and opt for covered singletrack instead, especially if you can find a covered trail with some stream crossings to cool you off mid ride.

Rule 4: Dress for Success
The key to dressing for summer is to wear a single layer of breathable, wicking fabric. Cotton T-shirts are about the worst thing you can wear on a summer ride, since they trap moisture against your skin and prevent it from evaporating and cooling you off. Once you have your kit picked out, don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen and go hit the trails.


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