Get ready to roll through the heat with these tips

Get ready to roll through the heat with these tips

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As if we didn’t have enough on our plates, now a heat wave is coming.

Given that we’re in the midst of a surge in biking and many of you might not have been through a hot summer season before, it’s worth thinking ahead about how to stay comfortable when cycling gets sweaty.

Biking in the heat is no joke — especially if you’re wearing a mask or some other type of face covering that could make you even hotter. Before I share a few of our best hot biking tips, I want to share a story I heard from a reader this week.

Doug H. was biking toward the Springwater path in Sellwood Riverfront Park on Tuesday when he saw a man fall over while biking. According to Doug, the 68-year-old man suffered from a heat stroke and then later died of cardiac arrest. It was 90-degrees at the time of the incident.

I share this story to underscore how heat can impact your ride. So before heading out in the next few days, check out our tips below:


Ride slowly: If it’s super hot I play the No Sweat Challenge game with myself. Using my gears, I adjust my speed and cadence (the rate at which legs spin the cranks) to keep an efficient pace without working up a sweat.

If you see water, ride through it: This is fun and smart. From rivers to creeks, fountains and sprinklers — embrace every opportunity to ride through water. Being wet = being cool (and it’ll dry quick, so you don’t have to worry about showing up at your destination looking like a wet dog).

Get bags off your back: You’ll be less sweaty and much more comfortable if you don’t use a backpack. Attach a basket to your bike, use panniers, hang grocery bags from your bars — whatever you can do to avoid a big heavy thing draped over your back.

Helmets can help: It may seem counter-intuitive that something on your head can cool you down, but try soaking the pads in water for a refreshing sensation. Also keep in mind that a helmet can act as a shield against the sun — especially if it has a built-in visor.

Shade matters: Seek routes with big trees and abundant shade. About one-third of Portland’s streets have a complete tree canopy, many of them on neighborhood greenway routes.

Timing is everything: If possible, ride early or late to avoid peak sun exposure.

Freeze a water bottle: Freeze one, fill one. By the time you get to #2 it’ll be melted and cold.

Soak your shirt or a bandanna: Like I said above, having something wet around your neck or your head significantly lowers your core body temperature. Some readers swear by these JellyBeadz cooling neck scarves. You can also soak your t-shirt before heading out.

For more great tips from BikePortland readers, check the comments in the “Related Posts” posted below this story. Enjoy the weekend and stay cool!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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