Thursday, July 1, 2021

BikeWalkLee: How to beat the heat

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, July 1, 2021
by Ken Gooderham

Humidity so thick it’s hard to draw a breath. Surfaces too hot to touch. Breaking into a sweat from just stepping outside your front door in the morning. And a regularly scheduled afternoon thunderstorm you can almost set your watch to.

Welcome to summer in Southwest Florida.

Those of you who have already exercised through a steamy SWF summer can skip ahead. This is really focused on any newcomers to our soggy shores from more temperate climes, who will be in for a shock (if they haven’t gotten one already) when they get hit in the face with full-on summer.

(Judging by the overheated local real estate market and the preponderance of moving vans pulling into town, we’re probably looking at a sizeable contingent of northern newcomers, at least some of whom may be braving their first blast of subtropical heat and humidity… quite unexpected, unless you moved here from New Orleans.)

So, if you’re new to town and inclined towards regular exercise, here’s a few suggestions.

Stay hydrated, and as cool as possible. This is paramount to protect your health from the hazards of humidity. Be sure to drink before, during and after outdoor exertion, in proportion to your perspiration if nothing else. Know the signs of heat exhaustion, and plan on breaks if you have to be out in the hottest part of the day.

Dress light, in both fabric and color. By light fabrics, we mean materials that wick moisture away from your skin and can dry quickly (so… not cotton). By light colors, we mean shades that help reflect the heat rather than absorbing it. (They also help you to be seen as well.)

Lower your exercise expectations. If you’re used to running in 65 degrees, trying to do that when it’s 85 degrees or worse takes some getting used to… and the biggest adjustment may simply be you can’t go as fast or as hard when it’s hot as when it’s not. If you’re going to exert outside, build up to it (although it may be too late for that now) or, at least, shorten your workouts and back off  on your intensity until your body can adjust (which may take until it starts cooling off again, alas). Recognize you’re going to be slower than you were when it was cooler, but take solace in the fact that you’ll be able to run and ride all year long (once you survive the summer).

Time your outdoor activities accordingly. Think early morning or early evening, when temperatures are lower (in relative terms). Sometimes a post-thunderstorm cooldown might allow you to get outside more comfortably. Just remember to check the radar to make sure there’s not another storm coming in behind the one just leaving, and (particularly if biking) be careful on wet streets and bike paths for hazards hiding in puddles and road markings  that become as slippery as ice when wet.

Look at cooler activity options. Like to run? Try it in a pool. It’s cooler and offers more resistance… and maybe you can even try a few laps while you’re there to see if swimming is a viable exercise option for you. Perhaps other water sports (kayaking, paddloeboards, etc.) could be worth a look as a warm-weather option, as well as a way to take advantage of our area’s abundant water resources. Of course, there’s always the choice to move inside, taking your run or ride to where it’s air-conditioned. It may not be as interesting, but it’s a way to maintain fitness in the face of hotness.

With a little planning and prudence, you can maintain the necessary level of movement even when the thermometer soars… and keep counting the days until the temperatures stay coming back to earth.


For those of you who like organized events, your next best shot is the July 4 weekend. For runners, there are the traditional holiday 5Ks (see list), all either early or virtual (or both)… your last chance at racing until Labor Day.

For those of you who want to get your kids off on the right foot (or pedal) with their biking skills, Wheel Lee Fun is back – but only for one week, instead of the usual multi-week run. It’s for kids of many ages and skill levels, 8-11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday July 12-16. Go to for details and to register.

And if you want to try something new, there are still some regional sprint triathlons to be found, although nothing locally on the horizon. But if you start training now, you could be ready when one returns.


Summertime has shut down most local running and biking events, with July 4 the lone bright spot on the calendar. It’s still smart to confirm events with the organizers and stay flexible in case conditions (and Covid guidelines) change.


  • Priority Business Solutions Freedom 5K Run/Walk & Gunterberg Charitable Foundation Kid's Fun Run, Sunday, July 4, 7 a.m., Cape Coral Bridge


  • GCR Firecracker 5K, July 3-5, in-person (July 3) and virtual


  • USA Independence Day 5K, Sunday, July 4, Estero



The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar ( for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.

SW Florida Critical Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides. Check out their line-up online ( for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).

  • SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers. 
  • Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Saturday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
  • NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
  • Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
  • Saturday Morning Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.

If racing is not your thing but you’d like to support their return nonetheless, consider volunteering to help out at the few in-person offerings ahead. With Covid concerns still confining some of the usual volunteers, a few new helping hand would certainly be welcomed.


  • Top Gun Triathlon, July 17, St. Petersburg
  • Siesta Sprint Triathlon, Aug. 1, Siesta Key
  • Fort Desoto Triathlon, Aug. 14, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
  • Fort Desoto Triathlon, Sept. 11, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
  • St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg) rescheduled to Oct. 1-3, 2021
  • City Island Triathlon, Oct. 10, Sarasota



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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