Cycling in a Heatwave: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Well the hottest July day on UK record was yesterday, when temperatures reached 36ºC (96.8ºF) here in London; perhaps not groundbreaking on a global scale, but pretty warm for the UK. It has definitely made for some hot cycling…

 

The Good

You create your own breeze. When it’s hot and humid, moving at 15mph creates a lovely breeze to cool you down. It’s worth noting this is best achieved when cycling downhill.

 

The ride to work. It’s still warm in the mornings, but it’s much more manageable. Wednesday morning it was in the mid 20s, which is a great temperature for cycling. After a sweaty night and getting ready in our boiling flat, it was most pleasant.

 

My summer cycling gloves. I like to think they make me look like the kick-ass female lead in an action film. Right?

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It beats the alternatives hands down. Yesterday the trains had to run slowly as the rails might have been damaged by the hot temperatures. Most urban trains aren’t air conditioned, nor are the buses. so this could make for a pretty uncomfortable journey. Network Rail was advising people to avoid travelling by train during the hottest part of the day, and I cannot even fathom how hot it must be on the tube. I got from A to B without needing to go near someone else’s sweaty armpit.

The Bad

The need for a completely new wardrobe. At traffic lights today, I noticed I was the only person out of about 30 cyclists who was wearing full length tights. Everyone was wearing shorts. Seriously? I was wearing my cycling jacket two weeks ago! This heatwave will pass, and I am not forking out for cycling shorts (which incidentally would definitely sit in the “ugly” section).

I unzipped the bottom of the tights; that’s the best you’re going to get legs.

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It’s hot under this helmet. This gets worse when you have a brother who pinches your light-weight summer helmet (because he can’t find, or alternatively replace, his own) leaving you with your chunky winter one (which he claims doesn’t fit him). Thanks for that.

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The traffic. Sitting behind a bus in traffic yesterday afternoon was pretty hideous. It was pumping hot dirty air into my face, the sun was beating down, and there was no breeze whatsoever. Balance was restored after my traffic-free journey into work with a very congested journey home. Hot. And. Sweaty.

 

The Ugly

Helmet hair. 

Sweat.

Greasy suncream skin. 

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