With summer in full swing and temperatures well into the 90’s across the country it is a great time to discuss riding in the heat. Tandems pose unique hazards as the combination of two different riders of unique body type and composition can wreak havoc on the completion of a ride.
If weather forecasts call for heat the first change in your plans should be on your route. Remove long gradual climbs from your ride or re-route to complete those climbs during the cooler part of the day. Generally tandems climb more slowly and when combined with scorching asphalt, tandems will experience a higher heat gain than a comparable solo bike.
Water and Sweat
This one is a bit weird but does your riding partner sweat a lot or a little? If you do not know it is time to find out. Most people have very different heat tolerances and physiological reactions to heat. Some people sweat buckets, allowing them to stay cool but also requiring them to replenish significantly more liquid. Whereas others sweat very little if at all creating dangerous conditions if too much liquid is ingested and the heat builds. Whatever the situation pick your route to suit the individual who will heat up first.
Join a Group
If you are unsure of an easier route or simply want to take the pressure off join a gentle group ride for the day. The addition of riding partners will slow down your pace and force you to get out early.
Liquids and Electrolytes
Simply drinking a lot of water on hot days will not help. When you sweat you are also releasing salts from your body. It is vital that you replace those chemicals during your ride to allow you to both finish strong and feel better doing so. Mix an energy drink into a secondary water bottle and sip that during your ride.
Breaks and Stretching
Be cognizant of taking regular breaks and coasting to stand and stretch. The heat will stress your muscles a bit more. Stretching allows you and your partner to gauge fatigue and tightness, adjusting your route accordingly.
The keys to successful hot weather riding are pretty basic but of vital importance. Even riders who regularly ride in excessive heat need to be constantly aware of their physical reactions. By taking your time and being aware of the topics above you will ensure a safe and fun ride no matter how hot that sun has become.