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Parental dilema: When is it too hot to ride with kids

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How hot is too hot?

Now that Luci is riding  — and pedaling like mad —a tag-a-long to her preschool, I’ve begun having to ask myself that very question.

The morning ride is fine of course, but with this week’s temperature expected to be 106 degrees and having seen Luci’s cherry red cheeks after pedaling home in 100 degree heat last week, I’m wondering when it’s just too hot for younger kids to ride.

Taking the CETMA cargo bike is an option so that she doesn’t have to pedal and can be in the shaded box, but she is all about pedaling to school rather than riding in the box, so it might be a tough sell.

Heat index appears to be one of the biggest determinants of whether it is safe to be in the sun and exercising. The graph below shows heat index, but doesn’t take into account our own very low humidity.

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The National Weather Service provides a heat-index calculator, which shows that with an expected temperature of 106 degrees and a humidity of 10 percent, the heat index will be 100, which is in their “extreme caution” zone.

The National Weather Service also provides tips for spotting heat-related illness. Check it out. Also check out the tips for riding in the heat.

What do you think? When is it too hot for you to ride?

6 comments
Red Star
Red Star

If one visually inspects the table (it's not really a graph) vertically from the x axis (the horizontal) it's easy to see that for a given temperature the heat index decreases as RH % decreases. That is driven by the model and has nothing to do with the table not providing RH % values outside those typical in Tucson's pre-monsoon summer. 


From safety and comfort perspectives, ceteris paribus, it's probably better to cycle in the Old Pueblo when it's hot and dry rather than when it's hot and humid (monsoon) Wicking effect is better when RH is low. Either way, hydrate appropriately. And learn about UVA and UVB, melanoma (typically starts slowly in childhood), and sunscreen. Learn the early signs of heat exhaustion and what to do.

MikeMcKisson
MikeMcKisson moderator

Ironically, she decided she wanted to ride the CETMA today because she was tired. Our plan is to go to splash pad that is near her school and then ride home in our bathing suits. 

Cwwees
Cwwees

This is where we get the question about "learning experiences" for the kids. I've ridden with my son into the 90's,and he complains vigorously. He's now 12 and we've been doing this for 5-6 years. He also loves to squirt water from his bottle on Dad. I'd say "watch closely and advise. Be ready to douse her and make a game of it."

Then again, I'm more riding for recreation when I give that advice.

Gabrielle
Gabrielle

I second what UA biker said in regards to your parenting skills. You are also an experienced bicycle rider, and a desert resident.

For myself, I "hibernate" when the temps go above 100 degrees. I am in the midst of perimenopause,. That means hot flashes, which while akin to a mini-volcanic heat eruption under the best of circumstances, become super-volcano like in this heat! =)

So, save for a miserable 2 days a week, when I have to drive to my second job in the middle of the afternoon (that car AC always seems to take too long to really kick in), its pretty much early morning and late evening outings for me until September.

UA biker
UA biker

Frankly, I bike by choice, and I'll routinely end up biking around in the middle of the day in summer. Friday, I had to ride home from UA Motor Pool at 4:00 pm, and their thermometer was reading 109F. Hot ride, but doable.

Maybe the thing to consider with children is that they might not know when to drink, might not know to drink as much, and they don't have as much experience with summertime heat, and so can't protect themselves as well as an adult might. My sense, not being a parent, is that by the time you (adult) are uncomfortable, the child might be in distress.

I hope that people on this blog take your question seriously, and don't simply try to chastise you for exposing your children to weather. My experience is that a parked car will be >>106F, and it takes a while for the AC to drop the temperature in the rolling greenhouse that is an automobile. With a bike, you at least get that breeze. And for short trips, a car's AC doesn't take the edge off quickly enough to make the car trip worth it. So with children on a bike, probably the duration of time in the sun/heat is a factor. A couple of miles to preschool might not be so bad. You seem like a responsible parent and I'm sure your decision-making faculties are just fine- I doubt you'd overheat your children.

Gabrielle
Gabrielle

@MikeMcKisson  Have you ever heard of garments called Kurta Pajama?  Its what you see men in countries like India wear everyday, though here they can certainly be "unisex" garments. You can get then in light/white cotton gauze material. They are vey, very light an flowing, yet give full coverage for protection from the sun. They also have the added advantage of acting like a great "wearable AC" unit. Soak them, put them over your bathing suits and ride home. =)