How to Prepare for Cycling in Thailand During Summer
Your Guide to Staying Cool During the Thai Summer
Let’s face it, for anyone who has visited Thailand or live in the country know that the summer heat is brutal. Temperatures often exceed 40 degrees Celsius / 100+ Fahrenheit and there is often little or no cloud cover leaving you open to exposure and dehydration if you’re not well prepared. However, with the right gear, a little preparation and a positive attitude there is no reason to put your bike away to gather dust until the temperature drops so here are a few tips on how to prepare to for cycling in Thailand during summer.
Choosing the Destination
In a country as diverse as Thailand there is a lot to choose from in terms of type of ride, terrain, distance and although in each region there is a number of familiar trails people tend to use regularly, the summer season can provide the opportunity to explore more as the usual dense forest vegetation dies back making trails clearer. Riders should do some research into where they want to go and use the many websites / aps available to see if there are ridable trails and be aware that whilst a 20km ride in the winter can be a formality it is suddenly a very different proposition in the summer.
Riders may want to avoid huge ascents in the summer as its almost impossible to replenish water fast enough when trudging up a huge mountain and consider leaving early in the morning to avoid the midday sun if possible, or in the evening when it is cooling down again. Certain types of trail such as downhill should not require any particular consideration other than being aware that trails will often be covered in slippery leaves, which can hide obstructions and the soil will be dry and loose making the conditions a bit more challenging.
Food and Drink
Taking enough food and water is obviously essential on any ride, however during a summer’s day in Thailand it is especially important that you have enough supplies not only for the planned ride but for emergencies. Regardless of how healthy a person is, heat stroke is a genuine risk if you attempt a long cycling trip with inadequate water supplies and a normal healthy person can lose up to 2 litres an hour. When people can’t drink enough water, dehydration sets in. Blood flow to the skin decreases, along with the ability to sweat. Body heat builds up. A body temperature of 104 degrees indicates danger; 105 degrees is the definition of heat stroke; and a temperature of 107 degrees could result in irreversible organ damage or even death.
As you sweat you lose vital salts so take several sachets of electrolyte to mix with water and if you’re carrying a camelbak or similar bag with a water bladder, squeeze in additional bottles of water to increase the capacity. Dried fruits, nuts and energy bars are also essential to keep energy levels high whilst not weighing down your pack with unnecessary weight.
Be aware of where the nearest shop is to stock up on supplies and should you come across one, drink plenty of fluids even if you’re not feeling thirsty and fill your water bottles/hydration pack to the capacity level if you still have some way to cycle. Drink a lot of fluids in the days leading up to a big ride as well as watery fruits such as watermelon, it takes several days to be fully hydrated so if you go into a big ride during hot weather your body will be suffering from the offset. Avoid alcohol the night before a big ride as well.
Clothing and Supplies
Wear loose clothing and quick wicking tshirt or long sleeve top with built in sun protection and cover your skin with a high factor suncream, preferably one designed for sports. Sunburn does more than fry your skin, it contributes to feeling fatigued. Also consider a cap under your helmet to keep the sun off your face. In terms of standard supplies not much differs to a standard ride so take a spare tube, levers, pump, multi tools, mech hanger, chain link and a small first aid kit.
As long as you’re prepared, cycling in Thailand during the summer is a fantastic experience and there is no reason not to continue your riding year round. Visit our cycling in Thailand page for route details and featured cycling tour companies or leave a comment below.