From June until late October it’s commonplace for temps to soar into the triple digits for many days on end in Texas. It’s certainly not the most comfortable place to ride in the summer and I don’t recommend riding for more than an hour once the temps are above 100, but I did learn to adapt and hope these tips will help you to enjoy cycling in the Republic of Texas.
Pick your Battle
Morning: temps are their lowest, but humidity is at its highest. Low temperatures when the sun first comes up are usually around 73-80 and humidity is pushing 85%.
Afternoon: temps are at their highest, but humidity is at its lowest. Temperatures typically peak around 6pm and it’s usually around 2pm when the humidity begins to burn off.
My recommendation: morning if the forecast high is over 100 and post-work if temps are going to hit the 90s. I find it far more comfortable to ride after work in 95-100 degrees with low humidity vs. in the morning with lower temps and sticky high humidity. Plus after work the sun is at a lower angle and cools off fairly quick as the sun gets lower in the sky. And by fairly quick, I do only mean about 5 degrees, but that makes a huge difference!
Insulated Water Bottles
Ice is your friend in a water bottle in Texas. Nothing is refreshing about gulping down 90 degree water on a hot summer ride. My bottle of choice is the Podium Chill from Camelbak. My water stays cold for about 90 minutes in these bottles even when the temps are over 100. And come 90 minutes both of your water bottles should have already been consumed.
Morning, noon and night, just keep drinking water when living in extreme temps. Make sure to compliment that water with electrolytes on the bike. My favorite on the bike drink is Skratch Labs. The flavor is light and the quality of ingredients is high. It’s one of the few sports drink powders that is sold at Whole Foods for good reason. Check these guys out!
My ratio for fluid consumption on the bike: 2 x 24 oz bottles every 90 minutes. This is with the given that you are well hydrated before starting your ride. Use extreme caution if you are starting your ride already in the red with hydration. If you’re out drinking the night before, do what I do and have 2 glasses of water for every 1 serving of alcohol.
Energy bars and gels are essential for riding strong for long periods of time. In Texas you just have to remember that the bar you choose must not have any ability to melt, because it will and will make a mess of your hands and your jersey pockets. Most ClifBars work well, but my favorite Texas friendly bike snack (other than PB&J sandwiches) are Honey Stinger Waffles. They taste like pastries, have a good ratio of carbs, fat and protein and are easy to pack a few in your jersey.
I spent the last 11 years living in one of the most arid climates in the world, Colorado. The only time I would use chamois cream in Colorado was for rides over 3 hours or for racing. The difference in central Texas is again the humidity levels. Trying to slip on a pair of bike shorts with humidity just doesn’t always work as intended. That’s why chamois cream was created.
My current recommendation on chamois cream is Udderly Smooth. It’s a hard product to find locally, but is available for direct sale on their web site. Shipping takes about a week and for $9 per 16oz jar, it’s a great value compared to the other competing products on the market. I’m comfortable riding in all conditions.
Puncture Resistant Tires
As soon as you leave the city of Austin on roads, you can quickly expect everything from dead dogs to entire mattresses littering the side of the road. And of course with the abundance of trash on the road comes with it a lot of opportunities for you to get a flat. Getting a flat on a really hot summer day is really not an option. I rode close to 2,000 miles in the hot Texas heat and only had one flat. The tires I recommend are Continental Gator Skins. They work incredibly well for puncture resistance, but you don’t give up a light and fast tire. I probably wouldn’t race this tire, but it sure has withstood lots and lots of miles.
Have any tips you want to share? Leave them in the comments below. Thanks!