Summer cycling isn’t as simple as shedding your winter layers and riding out in just a jersey and shorts. Warm weather cycling kit is just as technical as the gear you need for wet or cold weather, as it has to keep you comfortable and stop the heat interfering with your performance.
Here’s how to dress for hot weather, so you can make the most of the summer.
A base layer might seem like a strange thing to add on warm weather cycle rides, but its sweat-wicking properties are just as important as always for keeping you dry and, therefore, not cold.
Don’t go for your winter base layer, though, or you risk fainting from heat exhaustion! For summer, you want a lightweight merino or synthetic layer and can even go sleeveless for less fabric.
The wrong summer cycling jersey can make you too hot, or too cold. If the fabric isn’t high-tech enough to wick sweat away, you’ll feel cold, especially in the shade or wind. But if it’s sweat-wicking and too thick, you’ll overheat, so this is a garment to get right according to how hot the day is likely to get.
Go for a zip up jersey, so you can open it up if you get too hot on ascents, or to get some air flowing on descents.
Choose lightweight bib shorts so they don’t fall down (but waist shorts are fine if that’s what you prefer). Some summerweight shorts come with a semi-detached or perforated chamois which will go part way to easing chafing. You definitely want to wash shorts out every day in hot weather conditions to avoid saddle sores.
Along with their obvious role to play in road safety, helmets are pretty good at keeping your head cool. Gone are the old brain-boilers as modern helmets are so well ventilated that they create air flow over the head. Air is sucked in through entry points at the front, diffused over the head, and flows out through exhaust vents at the back.
A helmet is never a good place to save money, but poor air flow is something you definitely don’t want, as it will tempt you to take the helmet off on climbs. And just as bad, if your head overheats, so does your brain, leading to hyperthermia and slower reaction time.
As well as protecting you from glare and sunburn, a decent pair of UV shades will keep flies and dust out of your eyes and don’t have to cost a fortune. Plus, they’ll give you that panda eyes tan line to go with the status lines above your socks and below your shorts.
Not every summer day will be dry and warm, though, so check out our posts on wet and cold weather cycling for items to add in case of rain or wind chill.
A casquette, or cycle cap, is a multi-purpose summer essential. Worn under the helmet, it helps keep the sun from burning you through the air vents. Plus, the peak can either be worn at the front to keep the sun out of your eyes, or turned backwards to keep it off your neck.
Lastly, it helps prevent sweat dripping into your eyes, which is especially an issue if you’re a “salty sweater.” The electrolytes your body loses via perspiration sting when they get into your eyes. (Don’t forget to replace them with a sports drink!)
Make sure your shoes are well ventilated because your feet will swell up in the heat. For that reason, you also might want to go for shoes that are slightly wider than usual but can be tightened or loosened with a BOA dial system.
Cycling will expose the backs of your hands, your arms, legs, neck and face to direct sunlight, so apply a sports sun cream that’s sweat and water-resistant and reapply as directed. But you should also put sunscreen under your jersey because cycling kit, unlike swimwear, doesn’t tend to come with UV protection built into the fabric, especially (and obviously) if it’s a mesh climbing jersey.