Thursday, June 20, 2019

BikeWalkLee: Hot fun in the summertime

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, June 20, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

It’s a great time of year to be on your bike. But then, any time of year is a great time of year to ride.

But there’s something about cycling in the summer – less traffic, more daylight – that’s especially enjoyable. You can get out early before the heat of the day kicks in, or head out late after work or after the regularly scheduled thunderstorm.

Heat and humidity, you say? Of course, it’s Southwest Florida after all. You don’t spend the steamier half of the year here (May-October) unless you’re up for a little hot, wet weather. But the typical temps of a Southwest Florida summer don’t have to chase you inside, not if you plan ahead and prepare yourself for the climate.

The first step is to acclimatize yourself, getting ready for the heat by staying on the road as the temperatures rise. You can’t spend May and June sitting in front of an air conditioner and expect to be able to handle the furnace blast that is July… your body simply isn’t able to cope. But if you keep riding as the thermometer keeps rising, you’re going to be able to cope with heat better.

Not that you always need to… that’s the next step. Hit the roads or trails when it’s not so hot – before 11 a.m. and after 5 p.m., let’s say – and you’ll keep yourself more comfortable while still having enough time for a decent ride.

Choosing your route can also help, looking for paths or roads that offer some shade along the way. Even a momentary respite from direct sunlight can make a difference to your comfort level… as can a reasonable breeze, nature’s own air conditioning. Know which way the wind is blowing and (if possible) plan your route accordingly.

Next? Be aware of what you wear, opting for light, bright and quick-drying to keep you cooler and more visible. Leave the dark cotton T-shirts in the drawer and look for materials that wick moisture (meaning sweat) away and can dry pretty quickly. It is summertime, so you may need to include something to keep the rain off if you pedal into an inadvertent downpour (unless you don’t mind a little warm rainfall).

One last step to keep you cool(er): If you can’t avoid it, prepare for the sun by protecting your skin. Apply sunscreen enthusiastically and appropriately (remembering those body parts such as legs and arms that are more exposed during a typical ride). The other option is to cover up, looking at some of the outdoors gear that’s made to wick and reflect heat. Everyone has their own preferences… the key is to protect your skin in the best way you can that works for you.

Now we come to the most essential part of hot-weather cycling: Hydration. Ultimately, it’s the key to keeping your cool during summer cycling.

You should have two goals here: Cooling off and replacing what’s lost during exercise. For the former, have a two-stage plan – one bottle of cold liquid to drink first, another frozen to still be cold when you need to switch them out. For the latter, include a sports drink (for the sodium, minerals and carbs) in the hydration mix… how much you’ll need depends on how long you ride (and how much you sweat).

Don’t let the heat and humidity drive you inside. Take some time to plan and prepare, and you’ll be ready (and able) to ride all summer long.

Ride leader training ahead

Want to take your cycling skills to a new level? An upcoming class can get you certified as a ride leader, while honing your cycling skills to boot.

The training, offered by the Florida Bicycle Association, will be this Saturday, June 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research. Topics include:
  • Bike safety, Florida Bicycle and Pedestrian laws and cyclist rights on the road.
  • Preparation, from bodies to bikes, helmet fitting and nutrition.
  • Communication, from hand signals to how to give great pre-ride tutorials, on-the-ride coaching and how to brand your club or organization through cycling professionalism.
  • Coaching and Mentoring skills to develop stronger, safer cyclist in your club or organization.
  • Advanced cycling skills for 17+ mph group rides like paceline etiquette and how to control skill with speed.
  • Accident and rider-down tips and preparation.
  • Community and family ride leader skills.

This Ride Leader / Ride Marshal training and certification program is modular in approach, to allow registrants the opportunity to choose the modules that are most relevant for their needs and ride leader development.

Cost is $20 for FBA members, $35 for non-members. You must register in advance (and ASAP) at

Ready to ride or run? 

Run? Just one 5K this weekend, the Sugden Stride 5K at North Collier Regional Park ( But with July 4 on the horizon, there will be three 5K to choose from: Freedom 5K on the Cape Coral Bridge (; USA Independence Day 5K at Hertz Arena, Estero (; and Moe’s Firecracker 5K at Fleishmann Park, Naples (

Ride? Three Critical Mass rides ahead: The NE Lee night ride on Friday (June 21), the Cape Coral night ride on June 28, and the Saturday morning Slow Roll on June 29 in downtown Fort Myers. Lights are required for night rides and helmets are recommended; details at  Looking for summer activities for your kids? The next week-long Wheel Lee Fun camp kicks off June 24 (the classes take a holiday break the following week, then return July 8). Details at

Both? Upcoming events include:


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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