Phoenix is known as the Valley of the Sun, but that nickname doesn’t dissuade many Arizona cyclists from taking to our state’s desert terrain for a mountain bike ride. We have rounded up some helpful advice that goes beyond just hydration tips to keep you cool and safe.
In honor of May being National Bike Month, we wanted to provide you with some tips to help you stay cool and safe on your next bike ride. Whether you are taking a short journey to work or planning something more adventurous on one of Arizona’s many trails, these 10 tips are sure to help you have an enjoyable ride.
- Warm Up
Right before your trip, you should perform some exercises at home to stretch and warm up your muscles. Queue up the tunes on your cycling playlist and do one final check to make sure you have everything you might need for your ride. It’s always a good idea to make sure your phone is fully charged just in case you need to call for help.
- Before You Leave the House
Download a weather app to stay up to date on the latest changes. It’s easy to think your only obstacle out on the road or trail will be the heat, but that isn’t the only thing out there that could ruin your ride. Flash floods, traffic jams, and trail closures can all happen at a moment’s notice.
- Buddy Up
The more the merrier! A friend will help you stay aware of your pace or notice if you’re overexerting yourself. If you can’t — or don’t — want to bring someone along, send a quick text so that others know where you are going.
- Travel Light
You don’t need to carry around any unnecessary baggage that would put further strain on your body. Pack only the essentials: water and some light snacks. Slice up an apple or some strawberries to make a quick and healthy snack you can eat on the go.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
There are lots of opinions on what the best hydrating drinks The most popular options are coconut water, juice, sports drinks — make sure it doesn’t have a high sugar content —, and, of course, water. Whichever you prefer to take on your journey, be sure to avoid drinks that contain caffeine. Those will only put more stress on your body.
- Take a Break
It’s a marathon, not a race. It’s crucial to pace yourself and take as many breaks as you need. Stay aware of how your body is feeling and don’t hesitate to rest under some shade to regroup.
- Protect Your Skin
Sunscreen: it’s one of those tasks your future self will thank you for doing. No one wants a sunburnt nose to cap off an otherwise successful bike ride. Wear lightweight, breathable long-sleeve cotton shirts and pants to cover up as much skin as possible. If you’re riding in an urban area, biking at night is another way to avoid the sun, but make sure to wear reflective gear so you are visible to motor vehicles.
- … And Everything Else
Protect yourself from more than just sun damage. Be aware that accidents can happen at any time. Strap on padding, helmets, gloves, and knees/elbow pads to protect your body from scrapes and bruises.
- Know the Signs of Heat Stroke
Arizona is one of the hottest places in North America, so it makes sense that heat stroke can happen in only a few minutes. Muscle cramps, thirst or lack of thirst, headache, dizziness, nausea, and red skin are just a few of the warning signs of heat stroke. If at any point on your bike ride you start to notice these symptoms, seek help immediately.
- Cool Down
You made it to your destination! Take a few minutes to stretch, just as you did in tip #1. Then take a few moments to wind down from the journey, drink some water, and take a few breaths.
Bike safety isn’t difficult. Just remember these easy safety and hydration tips the next time you decide to hop on your bike and you’ll be on your way to fun.
Are you an Arizonian cyclist suffering with a common bike injury, like pain on the inside of your knee? Visit one of our locations and we will help you get back on your mountain bike.