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We're more than sure that many of you have clocked how summer's arrival in the northern hemisphere is, as always, in sync with Le Tour. To embrace the long days, the snow-free passes, and a little bit of inspiration from the best riders in the world doing battle over the biggest stage races in their calendars (the Tour de France for the men and Giro Rosa for the women), here are some tips for making the most of your summer from key figures in and around ASSOS.
1—Coping with the heat by Jack Thompson—Based in Australia, this rider knows all about distances under the beating of the sun. We've asked Jack what his top tips are for beating the heat.
Rather than look to save weight by rocking two smaller bottles, opt for two 1L bidons. One of the biggest hindrances to performance on the bike, especially in the heat, is dehydration. ASSOS ultra cyclist @jackcyclesfar recommends setting a reminder on your bike computer to beep every 15 minutes as a prompt to grab a bottle and take a sip.
"Slip slop slap" as the old saying goes. Sunscreen not only protects you from the sun's harmful UV rays, it also helps to fend off heatstroke when combined with proper hydration. The beauty about the ASSOS range is the high level of UPF protection built into the garments. When the sun is shining throughout the summer months, backing up consecutive days on the bike is important!
Upon completion of your day on the bike, and in order to aid recovery, reducing your elevated core temperature is key. Iced slushies from the local gas station, frozen fruit smoothies, and even a plastic bag full of ice down the back of your jersey will do the trick!
2—Traveling with your bike by Phil Gale—As our lead photographer, Phil spends a lot of time on the road (250 days in 2017). As with others at ASSOS, he comes from a bike racing background and tries to take his bike with him as often as possible, so we asked him for some tips on the often stressful issue of traveling with a bike.
Number one has to be investing in a good bike bag. There are some that are less expensive than others, but this tends to mean that they'll function less well. Spend as much as you can on one because the higher price often means a lighter case (which you'll love when moving around airports) and one that is more protective, too.
Number two has to be overpack the bike. By that, I mean follow the instructions on the case, but also think about adding extra protection on key areas: the derailleurs, chainrings, and shifters. If these get damaged in transit they'll cause you a big headache when you arrive at your location. Also, another top tip related to this is to make sure that anything that's loose in your bike case is strapped down. Flying is a dynamic form of travel, meaning that a slight bit of movement from a chain that's not perfectly strapped down will result in some damage to your bike when you arrive.
Number three is to be prepared for the worst-case scenario of a lost or delayed bike (it happens, though it is hard to imagine how something so large could be misplaced) by keeping your shoes, pedals, and helmet in your hand luggage. This could seem a little excessive, but it means that you can easily hire everything that you need to ride when you arrive. Note: tools can't be taken in your hand luggage, so make sure they're safely stowed in your checked baggage.
3—Getting away from the crowds by Patrick Seabase—A man closely linked to mountains, this lone rider was certainly the first person we wanted to ask for tips on how to avoid the crowds during those busy summer months in the mountains.
In my opinion, the best way to avoid the crowds is to ride very early in the morning or late into the evening. Choosing side roads is another key to avoiding people and traffic. Luckily, seeing as it's summer, the temperatures are still high in the morning and evenings, plus the days are longer. I try to select roads where I know that there'll be shade too, so sometimes I'll head out deliberately into the forest on gravel tracks.
Another tip has to be to stay away from the main passes. Even though these can be seen as the icons of riding, they are often icons for motorcyclists and other tourists too. If you ride early or late then traffic will be less, but if you find the dead-end climbs then often you'll have them all to yourself. These can be quite hard to find, but chatting with locals and sometimes asking the internet will often give you some leads. There is something special about dead ends that is hard to put into words. Being the lesser-taken roads, they often lead you to feel like you're the first person riding them, which is something that I really like about riding in the summer.
4—Pack up and ride out by Audrey Mollard—Part of the team at ASSOS France, Audrey is known within ASSOS for packing up her bike and heading out for multiday rides. We've checked in with her for some tips for those who want to enjoy the adventure of bikepacking in the summer.
Bikepacking is a great way to discover new places and get close to nature. It's a mode of transport that demands equipment that gives you the comfort to ride for many hours in the saddle. My preference is the H.UMA shorts without bibs, combined with chamois creme to limit irritation on my lower half. I combine that with the short sleeve UMA Jersey and a windproof vest in my pocket, and I am perfectly outfitted to start my adventure. Plus, these pieces of apparel are lightweight, meaning you can often give them a wash in the evening and they'll be clean and dry for the next day.
From a route-planning standpoint, I take each day as it comes, planning my specific route for the next day the night before. Riding multiple days means that you need to think about how you feel and what the weather will be doing to maximize what you can achieve each day. But you always need to have your final destination in mind!
5—Riding your year's big goal by Marcus Oord—As the Director of Sales for the rest of the world, Marcus spends a lot of time on the road doing crazy events such as his recent Cannonball ride From Tokyo to Osaka. We asked him for his tips of how you should prepare for your big riding day.
Eating before the event: Sometimes you might not be able to find your favorite breakfast cereal or jam in a different country. So if this might affect your pre-ride ritual, I'd recommend packing what you normally eat (one portion) for the morning of your event. Testing a new dish on that breakfast buffet before your year's riding goal is a risky factor. Eat what you know and you'll know how your body will perform afterward.
Eating on the bike: it often can't be practiced unless you do a similar challenge beforehand. So you need to find what works for you early on in training. Some common rules are facts, like at least an hourly intake, but long rides might need real food. Rice really is as great as they say, I've found out. I think it lines the stomach and keeps it busy and isn't dry or hard to digest.
Contact points with the bike: hands (gloves), feet (socks), bum (shorts). Comfort is key to performing at your best but also for enjoying your target event. For the bum we've naturally got you sorted with an array of shorts for whatever you need. But don't overlook your hands and feet. These are equally as important, and sometimes a fresh pair of gloves or socks at the halfway point of an ultra-long ride can be a lifesaver. My hands and feet were wrecked from being soaked for hours after it rained during the recent Cannonball ride, and I certainly wished I'd packed a spare pair into our support van.
6—What to wear by Andrea Berlusconi—As the manager of our flagship store in Lugano, and also an ex-full-time racer, who better to ask on how you can make sure you're always perfectly dressed for your summer rides.
Here in Switzerland, summertime means enjoying the beautiful valleys and mountains, with their challenging climbs and fast descents, passing from high temperatures to chilling breeze. My tip for these situations is the Equipe Jersey: its 3D open fabric allows excellent performance while climbing with the sun beating down, and a super-quick dry off once it's time to hit the way down. Believe me, it raises the bar of your summer rides!
Have A Good Ride—The ASSOS Team
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