A lot of Portlanders are biking through the heat wave

Kids gotta’ get to the pool somehow. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Allow me to disabuse you of the notion that an extreme heat event means no one will ride bikes. Despite 100-degree or so heat during this current wave of high temperatures, I was pleasantly surprised at how many folks were out biking around northeast Portland today.

I made a trip to the post office and brought along my camera in case I saw anyone out riding. Turns out, y’all are a hardy bunch! It wasn’t quite normal summer bike traffic volumes, but there were many more people than I expected. And there were folks in all sorts of outfits — from not wearing much at all, to being fully clothed as if it were just another 60-something degree Portland day.

I’ve also noticed that many of the Bike Summer Pedalpalooza rides in the past few days have been very well attended. So there! Biking and the people who do it are quite a resilient bunch and there’s almost no weather that will keep us from riding.

How has the heat been treating you? Are you staying off the streets during the day? Or just going about your business as usual?

Note: All photos in this gallery taken today between 3:15 and 3:55 pm.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Anon
Anon
13 days ago

The featured image of two kids on a cargo bike is one for the ages! Fantastic capture of the time.

Ted Buehler
13 days ago

Bicycling is one of the *only* things you can do to be comfortable in a heat wave.

Wear cotton. Ideally 100%, untreated with rain-go. Get your shirt wet. Put on a wide brimmed hat. Go out and enjoy.

See a convo between myself and Kyle Banjerlee and myself in this forum from 2017 for more detailed info.

https://bikeportland.org/2017/07/31/ride-the-heat-wave-with-these-10-proven-tricks-236635

Ted Buehler

John V
John V
12 days ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

Lol, you’re the heat wave guy! Your first post on there has a link to a 2009 discussion from you on heat waves!

Good discussion.

Just to add on and resurrect the old discussion, Kyle was saying that if you are already hot and wet with sweat, adding a not-chilled wet shirt won’t do much to help. I think he’s right (other than the difference between salty and non-salty evaporation) except that in my experience, I never completely soak a shirt with sweat. The places that get wet are the ones with poor air flow (arm pits, my back maybe?). There are dry spots where the air flow is good enough. So having a wet shirt helps even if the water is warm because it’s doing extra cooling in those good airflow places.

Ted Buehler
12 days ago
Reply to  John V

John V —
I respectfully disagree.

If you are already hot and sweaty, you can put on a we *cotton* T-shirt and it will really help cool you down. Especially if you’re moving with any speed.

Try it, I think you’ll find that I’m correct.

If you read the 2017 post carefully, you’ll note that Kyle did not own any cotton T-shirts, so he couldn’t actually try it out. He substituted a “technical fabric” material shirt, specifically designed to repel water. And reported that it didn’t do much to keep him cool.

I’ve been hot and sticky many times and cooked myself with a wet cotton shirt. In 2017 I had just come off 4 days on the Trail of the Couer de Alines, where I had done this multiple times on the 200 mile loop through the Idaho Bitterroots Mountains.

I look forward to anyone’s report on any experiments on this theme.

Best,
Ted Buehler

John V
John V
12 days ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

You’re misreading my comment, sorry. I am agreeing with you, I already believe you are correct.

One of the counter points to your suggestion was that if you’re already completely drenched in sweat, adding a wet shirt won’t help because you’re already getting all the benefit from evaporative cooling. I’m saying I think the problem with that thought is that (at least in my case) many parts of my shirt never get sweaty, because the sweat is evaporating too fast. So adding a wet shirt, even if it isn’t cold, will still help.

Folks, welcome to Sweat Talk.

PTB
PTB
12 days ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

How is it possible to not own a cotton t-shirt?? Is this a thing people do now? Avoid cotton shirts?

Let's Active
Let's Active
12 days ago

It’s a dry heat. No problem at all. Truthfully, I’ve definitely slowed the commute down. No racing to the next stop sign. Stopping every now and then for some cold water. Not too bad!

idlebytes
idlebytes
12 days ago

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many disgruntled looking people in your photo sets before. At least they got out there. I had the option to stay home so I took it. When I do go out in this weather I wear a wet t-shirt that was just in the freezer and bring along some spares with an ice pack. Then I swap them out when they get dry after about 15 minutes.

Even though I left at 6am this morning I was still quite sweaty when I got to work. I’m definitely not made for this weather.

Watts
Watts
12 days ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’ve never seen so many disgruntled looking people in your photo sets

It’s called Resting Bike Face.

dw
dw
12 days ago
Reply to  Watts

I’ve been told by numerous people who have seen me biking that I look like I’m angry or upset. Not the case, I’m probably having a great time but I don’t have the mental energy to ride and smile at the same time lol.

John V
John V
12 days ago

Yep, still riding for daycare pickup. It’s about 10 miles round trip (plus a few extra to detour to parks) at 5pm, so it’s the hot time. I love it, honestly (especially knowing it is temporary). As long as you’re moving, it’s fine (I’m sure body type plays a part, some people tolerate heat better than others). Keep moving, drink water. Stop at splash pads.

Monday I tried it with loose fitting long sleeves and pants (to avoid sunscreen and direct sunlight). It worked OK. Yesterday I tried the whole short everything route with sunscreen instead. I think the balance depends on if you’re going to be mostly in direct sunlight or shade. I think both worked equally well on the bike, maybe even preferring the long sleeves and pants. But when I stopped, I preferred the short everything in the shade for cooling off.

And run through some water!

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
12 days ago

Nice to see so many people leaving the insulating foam hat at home!

Carrie
Carrie
12 days ago

I rode Monday evening (3:30pm and then again at 5pm to get home) and was pretty floored at how hot it was (FWIW, I lean towards the shorts/tank/light long sleeve overshirt approach). I had the ebike on purpose so I wasn’t riding hard, but the breeze itself was just so hot. And this was the ‘it depends’ part of the story: I’ve realized now that I work mostly from home that my weather tolerance has just dropped — when I was riding every weekday regardless of the weather my physical and mental conditioning/tolerance was just so different than it is now. (Also, if I’m being honest, probably the additional 10 years also plays a part). I’m both fortunate that I usually don’t HAVE to be somewhere in extreme weather conditions and also a bit saddened by this change and my own resiliency, based on The Future.

LWR
LWR
12 days ago

Saw you catch me on Rosa Parks near the end of my commute and was afraid I’d look even worse than I do. Definitely not the most pleasant ride, but honestly not as bad as I’d feared.

Aaron
12 days ago

My jaw actually dropped when I saw the picture of the person riding with jeans and a JACKET! Truly an impressive level of heat tolerance in my book. I should have been riding along Rosa Parks yesterday for some errands as well but opted to push those off until today. Maybe I’m softer than I thought, or maybe I get to transfer some of my toughness points over from all the winter riding I did in the cold and rain like it was nothing. Or maybe it’s not a contest, but if it was the guy with jeans and a jacket in 100º heat wave would win.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
12 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

Actually, if you look carefully, their clothing isn’t tight but quite loose and they look comfortable, like they are from an even hotter climate (Florida, the Middle East or Central America for example) – protecting the skin from the sun can actually keep you cooler, and bicycling slowly and casually to not work up too much of a sweat.

Ted Buehler
12 days ago

Looking at the 2017 BP post, I see a link to my 2010 post on the same subject.

Still solid advice, in my opinion.

https://bikeportland.org/2009/07/27/sweat-and-sprinkers-thoughts-on-sultry-cycling-survival-21493#comment-1368739

My favorite trick is to soak a cotton shirt

* Get a cotton shirt, preferably thick, preferably light colored. A light cotton hoodie or other sweatshirt works well. Thin T-shirts are okay, but will dry out a lot faster.
* Soak it. In the sink or with the hose. Or dunk it in a fountain, whatever is handy. Soak it so it’s dripping all over the place.
* Put it on and ride. It will be mighty chilly at first, but mighty comfy for the next couple miles.
* keep rewatering it as needed so it stays *wet*, especially the shoulders and back, not so much the waist or armpits. (try not to re-soak the waist as much, as that will soak into your shorts, where it’s less breezy and less comfortable. If your shorts do get soaked, just stand up while whenever you coast and they’ll dry out pretty quick)
* change to a dry shirt when you arrive at your destination.
* the key is to keep your core body temp at a reasonable level so you’re happy and comfy when you arrive and don’t sit there steaming for a half hour.
* And it keeps fresh water on your skin, not salty sweat. Water evaporates better than sweat and will make you fresher on arrival. And riding won’t dehydrate you.

variations —
* figure out how far you have to ride, and only get your shirt partially drenched so it will be about dry when you arrive.
* if its a thinner cotton shirt, keep rewetting the shoulders.
* fill your water bottle full of ice, then add water.

I survived 5 summers in Davis, CA, riding all the time. A t-shirt would completely dry out in about 2 miles. And I’d arrive comfy and cool.
Pasture Ted

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
12 days ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

I live in a hot sultry climate of typical days of 93 degrees with 93% humidity from June through August (central Carolina) and I find that dry synthetic shirts actually perform far better than wet cotton any day, particularly when it rains with our big huge warm droplets. I’m a big huge morbidly obese guy, so I sweat a lot and have to drink a lot of water, and the evaporation qualities of synthetics really helps. I see a few people out here with cotton but most use synthetics. Granted, the dry heat of the West is rare here.

Ted Buehler
7 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Hi David — have you tried cotton? You might like it. Water evaporates better than sweat. And you’ll save your body the trouble of metabolizing the sweat out of your glands.

I’m curious as to how well it works there.

Follow the *opposite* of Kyle Banjerlee’s 2017 instructions. Get a 100 (or 95+)% cotton shirt. Old — no anti-absorptive treatment on it. Get it wet. Go for a ride. Return and report!

(Good to bump elbows with you virtually)

Ted Buehler

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
12 days ago

I found the riding to be pretty comfortable. Just stay hydrated and as long as you’re in motion you stay pretty comfortable.

The ride from here to CTC (4mi) at 3pm wasn’t bad at all.

dw
dw
12 days ago

I am not quite as in shape or heat-tolerant as I should be but I’ve still been out riding! Took my regular bike out yesterday for some errands – I rode about 5 miles total and was drenched in sweat. I’m really glad I’ve got my ebike for the work commute, it’s about 7.5 miles and I can do it even in the heat.

mh
mh
12 days ago

I planned for and did two days of commuting by transit. Broiled asphalt retains a lot of heat I was pleased that TriMet is cooling their buses with a light touch – not so cold that you have to put on another layer. And I was happy to resume my not-dependent-on-anyone-else bike commute today.

Zach
Zach
12 days ago

Rolled through a misting arch set up by a private citizen over the weekend and was very appreciative of this person’s kindness. Whoever you are, I want to thank you!

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
12 days ago

I biked my usual 9-miles-each-way commuter to work on Monday, and with the soaked shirt did okay even on the way home (did stop halfway to re-soak the shirt at the outdoor spigot at SplendidCycles — one more reason to love that shop!). Tuesday morning, an unexpected bike issue forced me to drive to/from work, only the second time I’ve done so in nine months. It was horrid. Traffic, stress, parking, not getting any exercise. I don’t know why people don’t realize how much better life on a bike can be. Worked from home and took my other bike for the shorter ride to pick up my CSA today, and loved as always riding home laden with vegetables. How do we get people to see that rationalizing motor vehicle use in a heat wave means you are making more heat wave? And also that overly cooling (or heating, in winter) indoor spaces makes it harder to bike, because our bodies get acclimated to the artificial (and climate-warming!) indoor temperatures and then have difficulty readjusting to the ACTUAL temperatures when we go out to ride? Okay, gonna go check my commuter bike in the hopes I’m back in the saddle for the ride to work tomorrow!

Andrew S
Andrew S
12 days ago

What’s awesome about riding in Portland in the heat is that there are plenty of splash pads, fountains, and swimming holes that are pretty easy to access by bike. I’ve been riding around with my kid all week, and just dress to be comfortable getting wet (Keen sandals are awesome for this!)

Honestly can’t think of anywhere else with so many easily bikeable “cool-off” locations.

SD
SD
12 days ago

Portlanders will say they love the outdoors and then choose to sit inside of a car and to be surrounded by pavement every day.

Jason
Jason
12 days ago

Not gonna lie, the track marks on that Bianchi rider gives me the impression it might be a stolen bike. I truly hope that’s not the case though.

Kai
Kai
11 days ago

I ebike and soak my leggings with cool water before I leave. It makes the breeze that much sweeter! Plus we are only 10 mins away from an outdoor pool or an air conditioned arcade. Bike life is good.