Summers in Austin are, well, brutal. For anyone who has willingly left the cool sanctuary of AC to face what feels like the bosom of the sun...we salute you.
All joking aside though, biking during the summer can be pretty nasty. But we are Austinites and bike lovers, and we will always find a way.
There are plenty of ways you can keep yourself cool under the Texas sun. Here are some tips to help you have the most comfortable ride in Austin possible and combat the summer heat!
1. Ride during the right times of the day
The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, gets to enjoy the coolest part of the day. Waking up early and biking at 5 to 7 AM (when the UV index is at it’s lowest) will not only help you beat traffic, but also the scorching heat. You can also bike after sunset when the temperature starts to drop; however, make sure your bike is equipped with a tail light.
If you plan on biking from the 12 PM to sunset (8:30 PM in Austin) window, we've got some more tips below to make your ride a lot more comfortable under the hot Texas sun!
2. Slow down
You expend more energy during the summer than you do during the cooler seasons, so make sure to take that into account when you're biking. Even if you’re running late, don't bike as if you're practicing for the Tour de France. Pace yourself, and your body (and your neighbors) will thank you in the long run.
3. Dress to beat the heat
What you wear while biking can make a huge difference in how comfortable and cool you will feel. If you want to maximize your comfort under the scorching sun, opt for a well-ventilated helmet to release the heat. Wear lightweight dri-fit or mesh material. Finally, don't discount the importance of sweat-wicking material; it'll pull moisture from the body to the exterior of the fabric, where it can more easily evaporate. Many athletic brands carry a line of sweat-wicking clothing in hundreds of different colors and designs, so you can look stylish while staying sweat-free.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Before you set off for a long ride in the Austin heat, drink a generous amount of water. If you want to keep your water bottle cool, invest in a high-quality, insulated water bottle. Before your ride, fill your bottle with a good amount of ice and water (opt for a wider mouth bottle so that it's easier to pack in ice cubes).
5. Sunscreen is your best friend
Getting a sun burn is no fun, and who wants to have to run out and buy aloe vera after a long ride? Spare yourself the nasty burn and lather up beforehand. Make sure your sunscreen is above 30 SPF and sweat and water-proof.
6. Pre-plan rest stops for your ride
Austin has plenty of spots for you to take a break, get some refreshments, and enjoy every Texan’s favorite invention: AC. Here are two of our favorite stopping points that offer bike repair services as well as a place to relax, snack, and get away from the summer heat:
Mellow Johnny’s is a great watering hole if you’re biking in or near the downtown area - check out Juan Pelota Cafe next door!
Other yummy favs include:
7. Stick with shaded bike routes in Austin
Natural protection from the sun will make your ride feel much cooler. Here are some shaded trails in Austin you should definitely check out:
Barton Creek Greenbelt stretches from Zilker Park all the way into the western part of Travis County. The main shaded path is great for beginners. Mountain bike recommended!
Shoal Creek has many canopy oak trees and beautiful scenery for you to enjoy during your ride.
Dick Nichols Park Trail is a 2-mile paved trail with trees lining the sides. If you’re looking for a smooth and shaded route, this is another great option!
Did you know we have a bike tour for Austin's lakes, springs and bridges? Explore the best watering holes in Austin and jump in after that long bike ride.
8. Invest in sweat-free storage solutions
One of the easiest ways to prevent excessive and unnecessary sweating is to be smart about what you're carrying on the ride. Backpacks can trap heat and sweat, and the additional weight on your back will make you increasingly uncomfortable during your ride.
Instead, consider investing in a basket or trunk for your bike. You can even buy biking bags specifically made to fit on bike handlebars and trunks.
Good luck out there!