It is time to pay. The Phoenix Arizona Desert has been a gorgeous treat all year, but with the summer comes the heat, and unfortunately, this heat could very well kill you. With extreme temperatures over 120 degrees and little shade on the trails, it is imperative the heat be avoided or approached with extreme precaution. Since it is impossible for me to neglect the trails, I choose the latter. Even though you may not have extreme heat like Phoenix, there are still many valuable lessons that can be taken away to your beautiful forests. Let’s take a look into the art of surviving the heat, and a few items that may save your life.
Water: Drink a ton of it during the day before your ride. Bring more than you expect you will need, then throw an additional bottle of water in your pack. So basically, fill your body with water, then fill your pack up with a plethora of water. I would love to tell you exact amounts, but frankly, everyone is different and you know your body, not me. I am not a doctor- If you need someone to tell you an exact amount, please see your doctor.
Timing: Maybe the middle of the day isn’t the best time to ride. Mornings and Evenings tend to be cooler so plan accordingly.
Communication: This isn’t necessarily heat specific, but always let someone know where you are riding and when you will be back. ALWAYS DO THIS.
Clothing: Dress light, dress white, and add some sunscreen. Sometimes I will sacrifice the dress white portion if it means wearing something that is lighter and will keep me cooler in the end. Example- Dry fit black shirt vs thick cotton white shirt. Sunscreen: Make sure to apply this 20-30 minutes prior to riding or the sweat may wipe your precious protection away.
Tools: Extra tube, multi tool, tire tool are a must. Don’t think you can go without them. The last thing you need to do is hike out of the desert, carrying your bike, and run out of water (yes, I have done this).
Post Ride: Take it easy. Pack it in slow and cool down. Dehydration is no joke, and you may feel it when you are done. Light headedness or dizziness are big indicators for me but it is important to know your body- these symptoms are different for everyone. WebMD.com states the following as indicators of dehydration:
• Increased thirst
• Dry mouth and swollen tongue
• Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
• Sluggishness fainting
• Inability to sweat
• Decreased urine output
Once again, I am not a doctor. Know your body. If you aren’t sure about any of this please talk to our doctor.
I have lived in the desert my entire life. I have played hundreds of baseball, soccer, and football games in the mid-summer heat and it can be brutal, but with proper preparation and the right attitude it can be overcome.
So when you are struggling up that hill, 88 degree mountain heat on your back, think about me, your Arizonan friend ripping down his favorite trail with a silly grin and 110 degrees in his face.