Temperatures aren’t the only things heating up in the Valley lately – the number of recreational cyclists is also increasing, due in part to stay-at-home orders issued to combat the COVID 19 virus.

Cycling in extreme temperatures can be dangerous if you don’t know how to do it properly. Rob Brown, manager of McDowell Mountain Cycles, shares his top five tips for staying safe when riding in the Arizona summertime.

  1. Hydrate. “You cannot wait until the morning of a ride and think that you’re going to get hydrated,” Rob said. “You need to do on a consistent basis at least 2-3 days ahead of time.” Although water is hydrating, Rob recommends adding an electrolyte drink mix or tablets to the equation.  Take along a drink with electrolytes to consume the day of your ride, too.
  2. Dress for the occasion. Rob recommends wearing lighter colors and clothing made from moisture-wicking fabrics. Even though you’ll be wearing a helmet, consider wearing a do-rag or other light head covering underneath. “Anything you can do to keep the sun from hitting your head will keep you cooler,” he said.
  3. Sunscreen. In addition to traditional sunscreen lotion, Rob suggests wearing a long-sleeve shirt made of sun-blocking, moisture-wicking fabric. “Anything you can do to avoid having sun directly on the skin will help you avoid a burn,” he said.
  4. Plan your route. In the summertime, it’s best to choose easier routes where you can maintain faster speeds which generate body-cooling breezes.
  5. Acclimate to the weather. Begin with early morning rides to acclimate your body to the increased temperatures and avoid riding during the hottest times of the day. Mountain bikers like Rob enjoy nighttime rides on the trails at McDowell Mountain Park. Most importantly, “Listen to your own body,” he advised. “Recognize the signs that maybe you’re getting too hot. If you feel nauseous and light-headed, you might be getting heat exhaustion and it’s time to stop.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

If you develop any of these symptoms, stop and find a cooler place to rest and recover. Continue to hydrate with cool water and an electrolyte drink if you have it. Call someone to come and get you if you can.

McDowell Mountain Cycles is located at 11879 N Saguaro Blvd and is open Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Sat 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sun 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. COVID 19 protocols are in place to keep customers protected. For more information, call (480) 272-8741 or visit their website at www.mcdowellmountaincycles.com