Cycling the roads of SW France is something that Jase Alexander, experienced club cyclist, knows a lot about. At the time of publication, he was preparing to enjoy his rides past the fields full of beautiful yellow sunflowers, not just because they looked incredible but because it meant the Tour de France was just around the corner.
Le Tour De France was created in 1903 and has taken place every year apart from during the two World Wars. As a link to the Pyrenees, in which the cyclists can either win or lose the race on the unforgiving mountain climbs, it has visited our region many times. In fact, like the first ever edition, this year it comes to Toulouse on 17 and 18 July, cycling the roads of SW France. Stage 11 is expected to finish in a group sprint which is an awesome spectacle, and they set off for the mountains on Stage 12. What could be better than a day or two in The Pink City watching the cycling heroes?
Dealing with the heat
Obviously the temperatures at this time of year can be pretty extreme for cycling. Just to give you an idea how important hydration is, the Tour teams use around 40,000 water bottles or “bidons” over the three-week race. Unfortunately we can’t all be handed bidons from team cars on our rides so we really have to plan our hydration in advance. Try to have at least one water bottle every hour. On really hot rides take in some electrolytes, which you just pop into your bidon in tablet form, or have a look for online recipes to make your own.
I’m afraid to admit that I’m one of those cyclists who like to wear their tanned legs and arms as badges of honour, proof of long hours in the saddle. However, take me out of my cycling bubble and sit me next to my girlfriend on a beach, surrounded by “normal people” it can be a little embarrassing, more for her admittedly. Whilst riding it’s very easy to underestimate the heat as we get a nice cool air flow over our bodies so always wear a sun block. You can also buy sun resistant cycle apparel which is designed to cool at the same time.
It’s a very individual thing but, in the summer especially, it’s a good idea to keep your head covered and I would always advise road cyclists or mountain bikers to wear a helmet. A well ventilated helmet will give you safety but, in extreme heat, it’s advisable to wear something underneath, like a cycling cap, for protection from the sun. It’s great to soak your cap in cold water before you put it on to keep you cool.
If it’s going to be a really hot day, venture out as early as possible to beat the heat, or go out later in the evening as the sun is cooling down. If you have to ride during the day, try to avoid the hottest times and head for the nice tree covered roads such as those along the Canal du Midi.
First published in the July/August 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Jase Alexander and Shutterstock