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5 tips for biking in Tucson summers and 3 reasons why it rocks

biking in Tucson summer

We can’t all ride around with our own shade. Check out these tips for making the summer bearable.

Depending on where you look, we may have hit the century mark yesterday and not in miles, but degrees fahrenheit.

Whether it did or didn’t isn’t all that important. We know the sauna is upon us and we’ll we “enjoying” it until September.

Just because it’s getting hot, doesn’t mean you have to stop riding, though you may want to adjust what you are doing. Check out the reasons why the summers in Tucson are great for riding and tips for biking in Tucson summers.

Why biking in Tucson summers rock for riding:

1. We get the roads back

With the majority of University Arizona students scampering back to their homes and the snowbirds heading to cooler climes, the streets get a little calmer.

2. Early rides make it easier to working stiffs to get their miles in

This one is close to my heart. With a full-time job, graduate school, a family and this site, there just aren’t enough daylight hours to get long rides in during the winters. When the summer comes it makes getting out the door at 5 a.m. for a ride a lot more feasible. It’s possible to do the same in the winter of course, but the cold and dark certainly has a way of encouraging me to stay under the covers.

3. WinterhavenSummerhaven is only 27 miles. Up. 

While it may be a lot of work to get there, we are fortunate to have a some respite from the heat in the form of Mt. Lemmon. A mere 27 miles and 6,000 feet from Tucson exists a place so magical that the temperature is a good 20-30 degrees cooler. Start in the morning and enjoy the cool air in the afternoon, then let gravity do the rest.

Tips for biking in Tucson summers:

1. Water 

Seriously. Water. Drink a lot of it. When I’m going on a longer ride during the summer months, I make mental notes about the places where water is available. Getting dehydrated in the desert is easy to do even if you are a native.

2. Sunscreen

No one digs skin cancer. I’m planning on adding a small tube of sunscreen to each of my saddlebags so that I’ll always have some.

3. Ride early

The sun is up early and the weather is still nice. Get out and early and be home before most people are even drinking their coffee.

4. Ride late

Invest in good set of front and rear lights and go for a ride after the sun sets. It’s a great way to experience the city. If you don’t feel comfortable riding on the road after dark, some mountain bike trails are open until 10 p.m.

5. Don’t stop moving

As a bike commuter, I can’t always go early or late. I tell people it’s not the riding that is hot, it’s the stopping. You basically create your own swamp cooler when you are riding so your sweat evaporates as you move forward. The worse part of a hot commute is getting off the bike and then being drenched in sweat. The solution? Don’t stop riding. Ok so that isn’t very feasible. I generally carry baby wipes to clean up after a hot commute.

As seasoned bicycling desert rats, what tips do you have to share? Leave a comment.

7 comments
Kbikes
Kbikes

I keep my weekend rides closer to town and make sure my flat kit is up tp date. Don't want to get stuck far out with a flat at ten am. On my commute I leave work 30 mins later. Its not much cooler but the shadows are longer and that helps.

Scott Lunt
Scott Lunt

I second the frozen water bottle idea. Also, make sure to take electrolytes. I use the Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes.

Red Star
Red Star

A cycling visor may help. Can keep that brutal early morning sun out of your eyes, depending on how you steer and tilt your head, perhaps reduce likelihood of melanoma, etc. Google or Bing "cycling visor" or something like and you will find all kinds of products, some of which are purported to be compatible with helmets. You might have to adjust your helmet to accommodate. Or head shrink a bit.

Cycling visors are considered profoundly dork by self-conscious stylish tres chic road cyclists, a big no-no, which means Red Star ordered one:

http://www.53x11coffee.com/53x11-Coffee-Headsweats-Visor-p/ccvw.htm

Jason777111
Jason777111

I'm riding up to Summerhaven tomorrow, not Winterhaven :)

MikeMcKisson
MikeMcKisson moderator

@Jason777111 Well I don't know where you are going then! Kidding. I fixed it. Thanks for pointing it out! 

chloe
chloe

I try to always have a water bottle filled and frozen to take along.  It takes quite a while to thaw, and provides cold water for drinking and pouring over a bandana to wear under your helmet and/or around your neck.  This latter adds to the evaporative cooling quotient during your ride.