Ways to stay cool on hot days

July 30th, 2009

This July has been extraordinarily hot and dry up here in Alaska and Canada. Since starting my bike journey on July 1st in Prudhoe Bay I have had but two cloudy days and got wet only once from a thundershower at the end of a day in Yukon. My restday in Fairbanks with 32C was the hottest day there in 15 years – and it hasn’t been much cooler ever since. In fact I hear that further South in BC the heat is record breaking and approaching 40C – I would never have imagined this much heat!

When slowly climbing up long hills the heat without wind can really wear you down on the bike. Here are some techniques you can use to stay cool on the bike:

Stage 1: Cool drinks and icecream. This works when you have access to cold soda or icecream say at a gasstation or convenience store. Sometimes friendly campers will help you out in the middle of nowhere with rather cool water. Here I used this technique successfully just before reaching Fairbanks after climbing to the Hilltop reststop in 32C heat.

Stage 1 cooling: Icecream and cold soda

Stage 2: Water-cooling for head and shoulders. When cooling from the inside isn’t sufficient, use water on your hair, head, and jersey to reduce body temperature and sweating. Here I use a modified version of this technique at the Bear Lake Cafe prior to continuing in the afternoon towards Prince George:

Stage 2 cooling: Keeping hair, head and shoulders wet

Stage 3: Full-body evaporation cooling. For even more sustained cooling it is advised to ride in wet bike pants and jersey. The easiest way to achieve this is to take a dip in a stream or lake with full gear. I also use this technique in Florida with showers at the beach… Here I demonstrate this technique at Moberly Lake between Hudson’s Hope and Chetwynd:

Stage 4: Full submersion. When all else fails and you have access to a mountain lake, go for a swim and dip down below the surface. The water there is clear and really cold! Here I applied this technique at Lake Azouzetta on a 30C day at near 1000m ASL:

Stage 4 cooling: Full submersion in cold mountain lake

Stage 5: Go North. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen, err Southern latitudes. One place that I sometimes dream about is Iceland, where we didn’t have the overheating problem last summer…

Staying cool in a cool place (Iceland)

As I write this Blog post from inside a convenience store at Bear Lake using Stage 1 cooling the worst heat of the day is subsiding. I’m going to use Stage 2 cooling for the rest of the day’s leg to Prince George…

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Richard Wagner  |  August 4th, 2009 at 3:42 am

    wish i was there. kinda sucks that its summer in alaska now, by the time you head south down canada your going to be riding into winter. hopefully central america will keep you warm next summer 🙂

  • 2. Administrator  |  August 5th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Yeah, the summer up here was – is – very hot; sunshine is good for riding, though. I’m following the summer South into autumn towards Central America. Then I plan to fly to Patagonia in January and ride North to follow the Southern summer. There is method to this madness…

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