Hot Wheels


Image courtesy of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

With the long sun finally shining on Minneapolis, summer is a great time to enjoy the city by bicycle. Here are a few easy tips to keep you cool and healthy while biking in the dog days of summer.

Made in the shades - Protect your eyes with a good pair of sunglasses. While you can find super sporty spectacles at your local bike shop, any pair of dark-lensed glasses will do the trick. Some helmets have built-in visors, though you shouldn't rely on them for full protection. Your future self will be especially thankful if you can spring for a pair that shields against ultraviolet light.

Beware the breeze - Ah! What's better than a refreshing, gentle gust of wind to dry your sweat during a long bike ride in the summer, right? Not so fast. Be sure to pay extra attention to your body when biking on a hot, windy day. Sweat is an important way your body regulates your temperature. If the wind dries you off too fast, you miss out on the cooling effects of sweat evaporating naturally.

Screen time - As always, it's best to heed the words of your mother: wear sunscreen, reapply it regularly, and stop complaining. Hands, ears, and calves are especially vulnerable to a wicked sunburn when pedaling around town. There are just a handful of things less cool than being responsible, but three of them are peeling skin, farmers' tans, and melanoma.

Lots of drops to drink - Most importantly, keep your water bottles full and your thirst quenched. If you feel thirsty, it likely means that you're already dehydrated. Count on guzzling 12 to 36 ounces of water for every hour you're on your bike (depending on how hard you ride, how warm the weather is, and how your body reacts to heat). Sports drinks can help replenish salt and other important minerals lost through sweating.

Keeping those tips in mind, you're ready to beat the heat and take to the streets. Happy trails!