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Tips for Summer Commute in Tucson, AZ Heat?

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Tips for Summer Commute in Tucson, AZ Heat?

Old 06-16-19, 10:08 AM
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Dallin
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Tips for Summer Commute in Tucson, AZ Heat?

I recently relocated to Tucson, AZ and live about 12 miles from work. I would love to start bike commuting but I am worried about the Summer heat (mid-day and evening highs of 105-110 F). I would be early enough in the morning for it to be fairly cool, but coming home between 3 and 5 everyday seems like it would be way too hot to ride that distance. Any tips or advice on how to do this safely/semi-comfortably?
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Old 06-16-19, 01:18 PM
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hydration, Hydration, HYDRATION! Drink BEFORE you feel thirsty. In fact, make deliberate plans to stop and hydrate at specific locations along the way just so you don't over do it. 12 miles isn't very far, but without knowing your overall conditioning it's best to recommend an aggressive hydration routine.

Sunscreen for exposed skin areas and loose fitting, light colored clothing everywhere else. Technical fabrics shed moisture better than cotton and a white helmet will help with your head.


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Old 06-16-19, 05:14 PM
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Bus pass for the ride home?
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Old 06-16-19, 08:14 PM
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I grew up in Phoenix.

In addition to dealing with heat, some dark sunglasses, tires to cope with goat heads, and an alternative for when it’s 122F.

Since Arizona threads always devolve into goat head threads, you have four major options: tubeless tires with sealant, extra thick tubes, extra thick tires, or tough tire liners.

Last edited by Darth Lefty; 06-16-19 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 06-16-19, 08:41 PM
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There's a guy on BikeJournal from Phoenix who commutes year-round, so it can be done.
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Old 06-16-19, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
There's a guy on BikeJournal from Phoenix who commutes year-round, so it can be done.
Last year our road trip laid over in Las Vegas and I was surprised at the number of people tooling around on bikes. Not just Serious Commuters but normal people on their BMX or whatever. This was in autumn and amazingly enough they mostly had lights.
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Old 06-17-19, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Kedosto View Post
hydration, Hydration, HYDRATION! Drink BEFORE you feel thirsty. In fact, make deliberate plans to stop and hydrate at specific locations along the way just so you don't over do it. 12 miles isn't very far, but without knowing your overall conditioning it's best to recommend an aggressive hydration routine.

Sunscreen for exposed skin areas and loose fitting, light colored clothing everywhere else. Technical fabrics shed moisture better than cotton and a white helmet will help with your head.


-Kedosto
+1 for hydration,
Cold water would cool you off from the inside, drink plenty of cold water while riding and once home or at your destination , I use a hydro pack filled with half ice half water for my 10 miles ride home 5 pm in the afternoon in 95 degrees heat up here for next couple days

+1 Avoid anything cotton, quick dry moisture wicking technical fabric tea shirts would work fabulously in dry heat of AZ, my experience it works greatly if it is tight fitting, you need cool feeling of the fabric next to your skin,

Good like happy trails,
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Old 06-17-19, 03:49 AM
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A cooling vest or wet your shirt when before riding home in addition to hydrating with Gatorade or something.

https://www.polarproducts.com/polars...Vests-c539.htm

Last edited by alloo; 06-18-19 at 02:37 AM.
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Old 06-17-19, 06:50 AM
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Quick-drying, high-wicking t-shirt, sun sleeves and a neck-gaiter.

I started riding with these a couple of years ago and when kept wet, they really keep me cool up to 100F, which is as hot as it officially gets here in Colorado Springs , except my bike thermometers often show up to 120F in direct sun, which at 6500' in altitude, is very direct!

The short-sleeve shirt with sun sleeves works better than a long-sleeve jersey because air can blow up under the short sleeves and cool you off around the arm-pits and upper chest.

I wear the quick drying neck gaiter bunched up so it holds more moisture and cools through both shade and evaporation.

And as with the separate sleeves, air can get in the top of the shirt, unlike a turtle-neck jersey.


I just bought a white helmet for this summer and can't wait to see if it helps even more.

Last edited by BobbyG; 06-17-19 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 06-17-19, 08:05 AM
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'course a cotton t-shirt works better for making yourself into a swamp cooler...
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Old 06-17-19, 09:27 AM
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Have you done a test ride of your route, on a weekend morning, for instance? How long does it take you? (Guessing about an hour...)

I'd suggest planning on drinking a quart of water per hour of riding, which probably means two water bottles for a one hour commute. Plan on dousing your jersey and the back of your head and neck with some of the leftover halfway through.

If there are thunderstorms in the area, the bus is a great idea. Spectacular rainbows over Tucson when that happens!
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Old 06-17-19, 09:37 AM
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Old 06-17-19, 09:45 AM
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I'm in Phoenix and my commute is about 8 miles each way. I've ridden home in temps up to 117, but generally won't take the bike if it's going to be over 115. My usual wardrobe is a regular pair of bike shorts, a technical t, helmet and short finger gloves. Last week when it was 111 I decided to try out a long sleeve technical t, I figured all the outdoor workers you see are wearing long sleeves so why not? Turns out those guys know something about being outside, the ride home with long sleeves was definitely nicer than with short sleeves. I assume the arm cooler sleeves will do about the same so I need to get a pair of those.
Always keep your water bottle full. Not only is it great to quench your thirst, but a squirt of water to into the helmet can help cool you off.
Find the shade when you're stopped at a light. Even the narrow strip of shade from a traffic light post can make a big difference.
Try to time traffic lights, if you can slow down before a light so it's green when you get there it's much better than sitting stopped next to a car with heat pouring off the radiator. I feel that I could ride for hours when it's 110 if I could just keep moving at 10mph+. It's the stops that kill me.
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Old 06-18-19, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I grew up in Phoenix.

In addition to dealing with heat, some dark sunglasses, tires to cope with goat heads, and an alternative for when it’s 122F.

Since Arizona threads always devolve into goat head threads, you have four major options: tubeless tires with sealant, extra thick tubes, extra thick tires, or tough tire liners.
You could always put sealant into extra thick tubes inside of extra thick tires with tough tire liners...

There's also airless tires. It's been a number of years since I've seen Tannus mentioned here on BF, from the high-quality look of their website, it would seem the company is going strong.
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Old 06-18-19, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
You could always put sealant into extra thick tubes inside of extra thick tires with tough tire liners...
But where would you put the air?
There's also airless tires.
ah, so
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Old 06-18-19, 06:18 PM
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It's special, the air goes on the outside of the tire. Before you ride, make sure the external air pressure is somewhere between 0.8-1.2 ATM.
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Old 06-18-19, 10:32 PM
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Tucson is an awesome town. One of my favorite places in the USA. I envy your commute. I lived for several years in SoAZ, south of Tucson, close to the border. Great area for road bike riding and mountain biking. Get proficient at fixing flats and carry twice as much water as you think you need. Hydrate continually and familiarize yourself with the symptoms of dehydration. Don't push yourself until you get acclimated to desert temps and understand your capabilities, thresholds and limitations. The desert is very unforgiving. Probably not a huge issues if you are commuting in the city where support and assistance is readily available but when you start venturing out on longer rides and runs it is easy to get in trouble even if you are fit and experienced.

Also, outside the city, temps drop quickly as soon as the sun goes down. Carry a light jacket. It can also be used to fabricate shade in an emergency.

If you are new to the area make sure you check out Bisbee, AZ. Quite possibly one of the coolest towns in America. Great riding there with the Mule Mountains. Hit Tombstone while you are at it.

Beautiful state. Not many fences.
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Old 06-18-19, 10:44 PM
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Couple other thought. I found that it takes longer for your body to cool down after strenuous exercise in desert temps. You may find yourself sitting at your desk and sweating for the first hour of work as your system works to lower core body temperature. Take this into consideration as you time your commute.

Mountains around Tucson and in Southern AZ can get above 5000 feet. Altitude can be an issue if you are not used to it.
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Old 06-19-19, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by the_mahout View Post
Couple other thought. I found that it takes longer for your body to cool down after strenuous exercise in desert temps. You may find yourself sitting at your desk and sweating for the first hour of work as your system works to lower core body temperature. Take this into consideration as you time your commute.
If you have your own work space then get a small fan to place under your desk. And under the desk really is the best place. It gives the best airflow and is quieter to not annoy the people around you.
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Old 06-19-19, 10:31 AM
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Keep moving if possible. If you have to stop, stop in the shade.
Sunscreen.
Light colored helmet and jersey.
Drink, drink, drink.
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Old 06-19-19, 12:36 PM
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I've lived in Las Vegas for 11 years and commute during the Summer, and have even gone for recreational rides at 1:00pm. The heat takes some acclimatization each year but doesn't bother me too much. I currently ride TO work between 2-3pm but it's downhill so I don't get too worked up (the trip home is after 12:00am and quite pleasant). Riding home during the hottest time of day you could do whatever necessary to keep cool - wear "real" cycling clothes, soak yourself at a park, etc.

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Old 06-19-19, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Eds0123 View Post
+1 Avoid anything cotton, quick dry moisture wicking technical fabric tea shirts would work fabulously in dry heat of AZ, my experience it works greatly if it is tight fitting, you need cool feeling of the fabric next to your skin
I was at a Walmart the other day and they had a huge selection of orange/yellow wicking T-shirts for under $10. I paid ~$30 for a lot of that type of clothing 15 years ago (still wear 90% of it).
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Old 06-19-19, 01:09 PM
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Personally I draw the line at 105, which is pretty rare where I live. It's not so much the temperature, but if I have to stop to fix a flat or something 110+ gets somewhere between very uncomfortable to dangerous.

Like others have said, hydration and keep moving are key.
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Old 06-19-19, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by joelcool View Post
Personally I draw the line at 105, which is pretty rare where I live.
In my time in the US southwest I've found 105 a breaking point as well, though I'll still commute. Every degree past 105 is exponentially worse.
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Old 06-19-19, 01:26 PM
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You'll manage, with practice. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't.
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