I’m a Hot Cyclist

Don’t get your hopes up that there will be a photo of a sexy man in a skin-tight lycra cycling outfit. In truth, I missed a word in the title, it should be I’m a Hot, Sweaty Cyclist. Yes, when the day is hot and humid, (sorry for the visual but) sweat pours off my head when I’m putting in some significant effort into my cycling. Even mowing the lawn or walking the dog on hot, humid days will make me sweat, but that is my physiology, I can’t avoid it. Although I will produce sweat all over my body, it appears that my head sweats most (per square cm, LOL) but even if it doesn’t sweat most, head sweat is the most annoying.

I remember that when I was younger, I enjoyed exercising on hot days and wasn’t bothered by sweat but as I have gotten older, I’m not so comfortable in the heat, and sweat has been bothering me more. The problem with sweating heavily while cycling is that it is difficult to wipe it off your head, forehead or away from your eyes when you’re wearing glasses and a helmet (and I always wear a helmet). When I can’t wipe the sweat off my head, I can’t prevent the absorbent pads in my helmet from filling up, nor the sweat from dripping down my forehead and into my eyes and that burns my eyes! A breeze, whether generated from the speed of cycling or from a headwind will reduce or delay the production of sweat but, if I’m putting some effort into my cycling, then, it’s only a matter of time before I have to deal with the sweat.

When I was younger, I used to run for exercise and cycle less (if at all). I would wear a running hat and I don’t recall being bothered by sweat leaking out of the front of the hat’s headband. Besides, when you’re running, you can remove your hat, rub the sweat off your head, even take of your shirt, dry off your head and put your shirt back on without stopping. Some cyclists are proficient enough to comfortably cycle without their hands on their handlebars (no-hands) to wipe the sweat off their head (after removing their helmet); I can’t ride no-hands and I won’t remove my helmet while cycling, so those types of tricks are not possible for me while riding (although I could just stop, take off my helmet and wipe the sweat off my head then).

Pouring some of my water onto my head will cool me off but it won’t dry out my helmet pads and make them absorbent again and, also, it could wash some of the sweat from the pads into my eyes. Furthermore, my water bottles typically contain more than just water, such as Gatorade or coconut water, and I don’t want to pour that sugary, salty water over my head and into the pads of my helmet, yuck!

One of the days on the B4UW ride last year was mostly in light rain. It also was quite warm so I sweated a lot and at one point, during a fairly substantial shower, sweat was washed out of the front pads of my helmet into my eyes and burned, burned, burned one of my eyes. For a bit, I rode with that eye closed, hoping that the rain would wash the sweat away from that eye and that the other eye wouldn’t suffer the same fate. After a short while, I couldn’t stand it any longer so I pulled off the road, took off my helmet and wiped down my forehead, allowed the showers to rinse off my head a bit, I pressed as much sweat out of my helmet pads as I could, allowed my eye to tear up and clear itself out and then, after a few minutes, I was ready to continue. Despite the risk of getting road grit in my eyes, I didn’t put my glasses back on because they too interfered with my ability to clear the sweat off my brows and away from my eyes.

During most recent summers, I’ll wear a Buff in Sahariane style under my helmet. Although it would seem that it would make my head warmer, in fact, I don’t notice any difference other than the reduction of sweat dripping down my forehead.

How to tie a Buff into sahariane style
How to tie a Buff into sahariane style

I have a couple of Buffs (Buff brand, not a generic neck gaiter, only because the local store with any of them carries only Buff brand), one is a regular Buff and the other is a really nice Helmet Liner Pro style which is smaller and although it can’t be folded into Sahariane style, it has a gripper at both ends of the tube that clings to my head—most importantly my forehead—better than a regular Buff, so it doesn’t slip and seems to do a better job of preventing sweat leaks from the front of my helmet. I haven’t tried HeadSweats (I only knew of the bandana style of HeadSweats but apparently, they make a variety of HeadSweats for cyclists including Buff-like tubes) but a co-worker uses one of the bandana styles and he really likes it (he says he sweats a lot too).

My wife has shared an expression with me, Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow and right now, I’m glowing like a horse. Different people sweat different amounts yet I wonder why even some of the professional cyclists that are part of the Tour de France (or, especially, the Dubai Tour race) don’t sweat as much as I do when the days are warm or hot: despite the fact that the Dubai Tour is typically held in early January, it still has to be warm/hot there, so close to the equator.

Although sweating can be uncomfortable when you’re not dressed for it, such as in a suit at an outdoor summer wedding, but if you’re putting in any effort into cycling (or any other exercise for that matter), especially during a warm (or hot), humid day, expect to sweat. However, also realize that, in addition to water loss, you’re also losing electrolytes so it is commonly recommended that, in addition to re-hydrating with water, add electrolytes to your bottles (you don’t have to buy them, you can make your own electrolyte drinks). At the same time, be mindful of your condition when you’re exercising in warm or hot and humid conditions, you don’t want to get heat stroke which is a topic I don’t really know much about so I won’t comment any further other than to say, there are lots of articles about preventing heat stroke that you might want to review.

One relatively minor annoyance for me when I sweat heavily is that sometimes sweat will drip onto the lens of my glasses, making a blurry spot or streak. I have lens cleaner and a cloth at home and work so as long as I can tolerate it during the ride, I can clean up the glasses when I get to my destination. When bike touring, I’ll carry the cleaner and a cloth with me and I’ll stop along the way to clean the glasses but I tend to take it easier when bike touring so I sweat less.

Some people like exercising in the heat and are willing to tolerate sweating, other don’t like the heat or sweating and choose to exercise in cooler morning or evening temperatures. Whatever conditions you prefer, it is good to get out there and get some exercise, any form of exercise, and exercising outdoors is better than indoors for both physical and mental health reasons. Don’t forget to include friends and family for more fun!


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