Summer is well on its way, and thanks to ever-increasing global temperatures, we are heading for some long, hot, dry months. Although there is nothing more refreshing than taking a cool mountain bike ride through a shady forest; for the majority of people who live in the warmer areas of the world, mountain biking needs to be a well thought out trek before the adventure begins.
With the weather becoming much warmer than it once was at any time of the year, it stands to reason that many bikers are finding new ways to keep the sun off their backs as they try and bike down through the nearest lakeside or canyon. Maybe of us however, are not careful when it comes to self-care; sure we take excellent care of our bikes and equipment, but how about the actual driving force behind the wheels? The macho outlook of, “I will be fine” simply won’t do – especially if you are in training for a tournament.
I try to load my bike with as little gear as possible on my long treks through the hills. Although I know I need to carry some basic items, I keep it to a bare minimum, with the exception of H2O! My water belts are my saviors of my treks and so I am dedicated to keeping them clean, lightweight and convenient as possible.
When suiting up, I really don’t need much more than my bike repair kit, my mini pump, first aid kit, my backpack, multi-tool kit, toilet paper (for those emergencies that can’t wait!) and my water belts.
Water belts are probably the subject of much debate amongst us mountain bikers. Some of us are totally against the idea of having water bottles around our waists as we bike; others (like me) are totally for them. Water bladders are fine and all; however, being a little older than 30, carrying a large backpack with the added weight of the water tends to kill my back. Having the convenience of carrying that extra weight on my hips seems to be easier for me and allows me to bike a lot further without many problems.
Below I can attest to having committed mistakes that have cost me some rehabilitation time away from my bike. How much of these are you guilty of?
Not choosing the right water belt for the job
I have tried many models and many methods to efficiently carry water on my long treks, however the common mistake I made was carrying too much, on my back. If you are a true lover of water bladders, then my all means carry one, but I don’t recommend taking more than 1ltr at a time. If you go with a water belt, make sure to carry between 500ml – 1 Litre on either side, and make sure you keep it balanced! You wouldn’t believe what a difference it would make to the rhythm of your cycling.
Starting out too late
Many of the tournaments I participate in are long distance, meaning that they begin early in the day and often end late in the afternoon. When I train, I need to make sure I am up and atom by 6AM. The heat doesn’t start to hit until around 9AM, giving me some good distance before I need to take a break to adjust to the heat. Taking a break just as the hot sun begins to beat down on me, allows me to catch my breath and power up again.
Wearing the wrong gear
Just like in high fashion, you need invest in the right gear for the right season. However, we don’t just want to look good, we need to feel good under any conditions. Firstly, never avoid sunscreen, it is a MUST in the hotter months, even with cloud coverage. Secondly,choose a dark colored UPF fabric that have a tightly woven thread to protect against the sun. A UPF 50 rating means that only 1/50 of the sun’s rays will pass through and reach your skin.
Know when to take a break
Stick to the shade when possible and don’t be afraid to take a break if the temperatures prove too much for you, and stop completely if you feel dizzy or disorientated.