As the earth rotates into the hottest position of the year, the scorching sun can wreak havoc on riding. Between the sun staying up later in the day and coming up early, the ground retains the heat throughout the night offering little relief.
But, dirt bikes keep me grounded and I am reluctant to give up something that brings so much value to every aspect of my existence. I am a better person when I ride. I perform higher in the office, I am nicer to people, and it keeps me on track. Training regularly is also a great way to build resilience into your mind, body and spirit, and when it heats up the benefits of training can be amplified by the conditions, especially if we prepare and train properly.
Personally, I am in full preparation mode for the 2023 National Endurocross season, so conditioning my body and bike to float through rocks and logs is absolutely necessary.
Whether you are preparing for a race or out for a rip with your buddies, there are ways we can Maximize time spent on the bike.
There are a few key fundamentals to riding and performing in the heat. Here we go…
Four tips to manage riding in the summer
Lets keep this as simple and “to the point” as possible.
Hydration during the summer is your new job. A hydrated body is of utmost importance in regards to safety and performance.
Keeping the body hydrated at all times is the key. Drinking a ton of water and hydrating last minute can actually make you go backwards. The rate at which water is consumed correlates directly with your body's ability to absorb the fluids.
I roll with a 32oz Nalgene bottle everywhere I go. I am constantly sipping and refilling and aim to put down between 1-1.75 gallons of water daily. The amount of water and electrolytes consumed directly correlates to my level of output and sweat that day. The more I work/train/sweat, the more I consume water and the more electrolytes I need to replace. I like to use fizz tablets to replenish essential electrolytes, usually one tab in every other water bottle. A pinch of salt in my first morning bottle helps the body process water.
Don't overdo it. It is easy to get caught in the trap of drinking to much water and flushing out your electrolytes in your system, or drinking to many electrolytes and causing other issues. Your pee should have a slight tint of yellow in it, if its totally clear then you might be a little over hydrated.
2. Gear/Equipment Selection
Lightweight gear for the win
As you know, everything is a tradeoff. In this case, I like to trade off safety gear for a lighter, cooler setup. The bulky chest protectors with an undershirt and water pack are like a dutch oven for your most valuable vital organs. An all black helmet and pant/jersey combo doesn’t help much either. I could argue that a lighter setup with less protective gear can be safer when considering the possibility of heat related illnesses.
I carry a minimum of 2.5 liters of water with me during the summer. There are lots of solid lightweight options out there. Some brands I like (Osprey, USWE, Klim)
Fanny pack - If I am going into the desert or mountains, I take my tool belt. I like getting the weight off my back and onto my waist.
3. Early ride time
Sleeping in is overrated
Early hours - The earlier the better. If you can adjust your circadian rhythm to be up before the sun and on the bike before sunrise, that is a huge advantage. I end up riding from the house a lot during the summer for the convenience factor.
4.Short and sweet
Get in and get out
Throughout my racing career, my training sessions have gotten shorter while yielding higher returns. I like to start with a small goal for the day and then go from there. Ride for a couple hours and be done. Examples...
My goal is to practice perfect body position for 25 minutes
My goal is to have fun and explore cool terrain
My goal is to dedicate 25 minutes towards wheelie practice
I reckon it’s worth riding in the summer. My favorite part about summer riding is I can go ride, be home, showered and fed all before a 9AM work day. The summer is an opportunity to do more of what you want to do because of the extended daylight. Remember to wind down early and get plenty of water, nutrition and good rest.
As always, keep charging!
- Max Gerston