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The Noob’s Guide To Cycling In The Heat…

May 2013
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I love riding when the temps start topping 90 degrees. The way I see it, riding is the most comfortable way to enjoy higher temperatures outside – you’ve got a built-in breeze and in my opinion, it sure beats sitting inside in the air conditioning. Now, lest you get the impression that way up here in Michigan and that I just don’t understand what it’s like to exercise in real heat (say, Florida), you’d be mistaken. While our 90-95 degree days are farther apart, I’ve golfed mid-day in July and August from Florida to Texas – it’s all good to me… Enjoying myself in that kind of heat isn’t easy but there are definite steps that I take to make it livable.

First, I’m thin – at 6’0″ and 160 pounds, I don’t have a whole lot in the way of insulation. This sucks in the winter time – I’m freezing from November through February, but the other seven months of the year, I’m in heaven. This is one of those things that you can’t exactly control right away, though if you’re not in my boat, you’re obviously doing something about it if you’re reading this post.

There are other things that I do that keep me truckin’ even in the hottest weather we get and through mid-summer vacations down south though…

Following a time line, if I’m expecting to go on a long ride, I start hydrating the day before, usually with lunch. Lots and lots of water. Nothing silly, I just have a 32 ounce bottle with me at all times. With dinner I’ll have a 32 ounce Gatorade and another partial after dinner until I go to sleep. Now, in very simple terms, I’m only talking about a 10-15% increase over normal consumption. Day of, depending on what time I’m riding (figure morning for this post), I’ll drink my normal two cups of coffee, shower and get ready. When I get out of the shower, I get that partially hit Gatorade from the night before and finish that off… And I’m ready.  Now, I don’t know if hydrating this way, or this early, is beneficial but for me it works and I have confidence when I do – and that’s what matters.

During a ride, up to 40 miles I can usually get away with just two water bottles.  Either both H2O or one H2O and one H2O with an electrolyte tab.  Beyond that, Gatorade is worth its weight.  I need the electrolyte replacement and the sweetness doesn’t bother my stomach so I go with one Gatorade filled bottle and one with H2O.  This is good up to 50.  For anything over that I’ll stop at a gas station (or two – or three for a century) and refill – same thing, and then I buy one of the small Coca-Cola’s…  Why?  Well, a Coke 3/4’s of the way through a 100 mile ride tastes good, I had a craving for one during a 200k last year and honest to God, it was about the best Coke I’ve ever had in my life, so now I make it a point to have one at some point toward the end a long ride.  The sugar and caffeine are a nice boost.  Dealing with the 100 mile distance, before and during, I want to be at around 200 ounces during the ride and then another 40-100 ounces after (depending).

Finally, and most importantly, I always make it a point to eat something salty after a long ride.  Now keep in mind my weight when I let this out – I don’t have any weight to lose:  I eat a double Quarter Pounder (no cheese), a large fry and either a lemonade, sprite or iced tea.

Now, there was a process that led to this very exact setup.  When I started getting into the longer miles last year, I went through a phase where my sweat stopped tasting salty.  I didn’t get the grainy feeling on my skin either after the sweat dries.  Shortly thereafter my performance level dropped precipitously.  Originally I just went with water only.  In fact, during a ride was one of the very few times that I really enjoyed water.  I didn’t like the heaviness of and sugar in the sports drinks.  Plain old water always did the trick and quenched my thirst completely but without the electrolyte replacement I got into trouble.  Also, there are the electrolyte replacement tabs that one can add to water.  Generally they add a little bit of flavor but they don’t weigh the water down too much.  They work quite well though I’ve only had the Gu tabs and I seem to have a problem with the effervescence though that doesn’t keep me from using them.

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2 Comments

  1. Starting to train for MS 150 in October. Great info! Thank you!

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