Longer days, warmer weather and more fellow cyclists out on the roads can almost erase the memory of those lonely and gruelling winter rides and turbo sessions. Make the most of your riding this summer by following our top ten tips.
If you have been following any of the British Cycling Training Plans through the winter and spring you should now be in great form and ready to hit all of your cycling goals.
If your training has been more sporadic and you didn’t quite have the winter and spring you intended, all is not lost. Our 7-week Panic Plan is ideal for getting you up to speed in time for some mid-summer cycling challenges.
If you have been riding a dedicated winter bike, don’t just throw it in the shed as soon as the sun comes out. Repay the service it has done through the winter by giving it an overhaul before you retire it for the summer.
Check your pads
If you are slotting in a posh pair of carbon wheels for the summer or changing between alloy and carbon rims for training and racing, make sure you are running the correct brake pads. Although there are pad compounds that can be used on both alloy and carbon braking surfaces, you still shouldn’t just swap wheels in and out without changing the pads. Shards of metal from alloy rims can easily become embedded in the pads which can cause irreparable damage if then used with carbon rims.
Now that summer is here, it is time to dig out your short sleeved jerseys and shorts but, with the changeable British weather, we would still always recommend carrying a lightweight windproof gilet at the very least. If your ride takes in upland or mountainous terrain, it is probably wise to carry a full waterproof.
A decent wicking base layer under your jersey will help you to stay cool and comfortable on summer rides. Take a tip from the pros and opt for a mesh style vest.
You can also pack away your full fingered gloves, but you should still ride in fingerless track mitts. The padding in the palm will help soak up vibrations, the towelling is great for wiping away sweat but, most importantly, they will protect your hands if you take a tumble.
Sunglasses are an essential for summer riding. They not only look cool but will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, flying insects and road debris and will also stop your eyes streaming on fast descents. With the sun not guaranteed in Britain, look for models with interchangeable lenses and it is worth going in to a shop to try on a few pairs as fit is crucial.
Get on the scales
If you have been carrying a few extra pounds through the winter and spring, the summer can be a good time to get them off. You will feel more motivated to get out on the bike, healthy meals, such as salads, are more appealing in the summer and the prospect of bearing all on the beach can be an additional incentive to turn down that extra slice of cake. Great Britain Cycling Team and Team Sky nutritionist Nigel Mitchell has provided some great tips for safe and effective weight loss.
Slap on some cream
Although many cyclists see crisp tan lines as a badge of honour, getting sunburnt should always be avoided. For long rides, look for brands which have a high SPF and that are water and sweat-proof. Cover your arms and legs, don’t forget the back of your neck which is really exposed when riding, and your face and head. Carry a small tube of cream with you and re-apply regularly. There are also some products available that offer all-day protection and these are definitely worth trying, but it is essential to follow the application instructions carefully.
Staying well hydrated is vital for successful summer cycling, but it is not as simple as just pouring water down your throat when you get thirsty. You need to take care to balance fluid and electrolyte intake and to drink little and often right from the start of a ride. Check out our comprehensive guide to staying hydrated on the bike.
As more cyclists are out on the road in the summer, you can also expect more cars and other road users too, especially in scenic areas and popular tourist destinations. Share the roads considerately and enhance the image and reputation of cycling. Most sportives you will ride take place on open roads, so you are obliged to observe the Highway Code and should follow some simple etiquette rules. Follow good group riding practice and never ride more than two abreast. On rural roads pay particular attention to horses and ensure that you behave appropriately if you encounter them.
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