From what I can gather, many of you are from rather northern climes for whom summer is an idyllic break from snow, rain, and other weather that would inspire one to stay indoors. That ain't how it works here. In Texas, summer is the long, baking heat that forges our entire personality. To give you an idea, I was in northern Europe in early May and was baffled that pants and closed toe shoes were still a thing that was happening. By May around here we've been in shorts and sandals for a month or two. So that out of the way, it's time for Annie's Annual Summertime reminders!
It might seem late-coming to you, now that we're through June and July, but a lifelong Texan will tell you that summer doesn't really wear you down til about the second week of August. That's when we have the record setting temps and the weather gets the dryest. In the face of all that, there's some precautions literally everyone should be taking. Excuse the profuse caps lock - I feel very passionately about some of this.
SUNSCREEN.Let me say that again. SUNSCREEN. Apply it to your skin. I don't care what race you are, that you "don't burn," or if you have a "base tan." The sun is a harsh motherfucker that will age you like the paint on an old shed if you do not protect yourself from the rays of the Evil Daystar. My preference is SPF 30 or 50 - I am one of those people that has a base tan, and don't burn - I'm hispanic. The bonus to using sunscreen aside from anti-aging is you will genuinely feel better after the ride if your skin (your biggest organ) isn't coping with all that damage.
Man cannot live on beer alone. Believe me, I've tried. The accepted rate for hydration - you should be getting through about 1-2 bottles of water per hour you spend in intense sun and heat. Not that you can't go have beers with your friends and all that, but remember that alcohol is dehydrating and will give you heat stroke if you don't keep an eye on it. It's happened to me - in fact I'm fairly prone to heatstroke when the temps go above 102, and I've been living here my whole life. And once you hit the point of heatstroke, there's no going back to feeling normal that day. Pack it in.
I feel a bit less passionately about this one, hence the lack of caps lock. But it's still important! Sweating gets rid of all kinds of salts and minerals your body needs to function properly, so replacing those is a good thing. It keeps you from passing out. Your options are pretty much beverages or pills - I like the tablets because after years of tolerating them, I dislike the taste of sports drinks. But, if you like em, they work very well so do what works best for you.
Stay out of the sun if possible
This seems painfully obvious, yet I feel the need to say it. Shade, good. A 20 mile ride with no shade can be a torture fest. If there's none available, sunglasses, long sleeves, and a hat will help you make some of your own. I've heard excellent things about sun sleeves, which look like arm warmers, but transfer heat away from you and reflect light.
So folks, just remember to be safe in the sun, keep an eye on your hydration and if you feel funny, maybe have a Gatorade. Relax in the shade and wear a hat and you'll be alright. And may god help all of us down here in the land of heat and sun - may wildfire season be short and the lake levels be high.