I have a week before summer school starts up and time to ride becomes scarce again, so I want to make sure that I make the most of every ride. After that, I need to be smarter, as my time will be limited. For me success in the summer heat means: plan, cover, and hydrate.
Look at your week ahead. Okay, recurring theme alert...as I said before, get stuff done that is important. Don't ruin a ride by having stuff hanging over your head. Cut the grass on a rest day. Go hike with the family on a recovery day. Plan to ride with friends and grab coffee or beers afterwards. Plan to go to the Tuesday Night Campus Rides or some other group ride.
Use a Light to Ride Early or at Night
This should be obvious, but the summer is not the best time to be out midday when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. Early morning or later at night can be the best times to saddle up. I for one find that summer is the time I use my lights the most, as I try to get out at dawn or at dusk. The benefit is often that traffic volume is low, but also that heat is down as well. It might still be 75 degrees, but it is better than 85.
For lights, I highly recommend that you look into a rechargeable tail and head lamp. I use the now old model, Bontrager Ion 700 up front. It is 700 lumens bright, which is wicked bright. I find that most of the time, I use it in nighttime pulse mode. It fits neatly in a jersey pocket with the mount left attached to the bars. I had the matching Flare R Rear Light, but in a moment of stupidity, I lost it. I actually heard something hit the tarmac on River Road a few years back, but I kept going only to find that I had lost my light when I got back home. I rode back and never found it. I really should buy another one.
A recent great pick up was the Blackburn 2'Fer light set. I love
these because they will work in red or white mode. I can keep both on my seatpost for a ride and then if I need it for a headlamp, I can put one up front. They are also tiny, so it makes sense to carry the spare and use it to replace the Ion or its twin if one of those dies. The 2'Fer lights are not the brightest, but the are good utility lights that charge fast and do the job. They have useful flicker patterns, and the ability to run it as red or white is a big plus. You can pick these up at Campus Wheelworks for about $45. You cannot beat the value in these lights.
If you ride at night be mindful that bugs may be in full annoying mode. Think bug spray or figure out how to install that big net in your helmet, if yours came with one that is. Nothing is more annoying than a big bug getting into your lid. Ugh!
Riding at night is fun. If you are in a park, be mindful of joggers and walkers. They have made significant steps to be better seen in recent years, but headphones can often make them unaware of you. I'm sorry, but I see a lot of oblivious people on foot lately.
On the road, I do not think it is any more dangerous than daytime riding as my lights are a lot more obvious to drivers in the dark. I also like that it is easy to see cars behind me. Their headlights make them more obvious. Okay, I know that drunks and people driving without lights are possible, so take my opinion for what it's worth. $3 and you can get a coffee with it.
Check the Weather
Get a good weather app like Dark Sky. It tells me the forecast in 2 hour increments, giving me the chance of rain, temp, wind, humidity, and UV index for the day. It tells sunrise and sunset. The UV index is a pretty neat feature. It comes for iOS and Android platforms, and it updates very regularly. The radar gives a really nice view of what is on the way.
Think of a Cool Place
The last part of planning is obviously to think about where you are going to ride. If I am riding midday in the full sun, I not only plan my intensity differently, but also look for elevation, possible water stops, and maybe some shade for a stop. I avoid tons of climbing on the worst days of the week. I try to head towards the Outer Harbor or somewhere along the water if possible. And yes, sometimes that might include a stop at Mississippi Mudd's for a hotdog and a Coke.
Plan to beat the heat, and if you can't, stay inside and Zwift or something. Tomorrow, let's talk about keeping covered.