It’s one thing to ride/train in the heat it’s another to RACE in the heat. It’s that time of year, the summer heat has arrived and is making up for the lack of heat we had from the cooler temps to start off the cycling season.
Many cyclist, whether recreational or competitive, find dealing with the heat an issue. Suffering from some degree of cramps at one time or another or heat related stomach issues, the heat brings on specific challenges to overcome in the summer months. Specific to racing, many cyclist have encountered the negative effects of heat on race results. What, if anything, be done to help you train and race best in the heat?
When it is hot, especially when temps are in the 90-100F (36-40C) range, your body needs to work harder to keep your core temperatures in a safe range to allow the organs to function normally. There are numerous heat–coping strategies to consider when planning a high-intensity workout or doing a race in hot weather.
- Acclimate. It takes about 10 to 14 days of frequent exposure to heat for your body to adapt. During this period of time workout daily in hot conditions at a lower-than-normal intensity. After a couple of weeks of near-daily exposure to hot conditions you will begin perform better in the heat than prior although performance will still likely be diminished from what you might have done in cooler conditions.
- Nutrition. You want to eat “quality” carbs leading up to, and including, a hard effort or race day. That includes eating plenty of fruits, veggies, etc. Watermelon is a great fruit (carb) to consume even during race day. Also, remember to stay away from the simple carbs. i.e. sugars, sweets, prior to the race or training in hot conditions.
- Hydrate. This one is easy but also easy to forget! Water is 60% of your body weight and the number one concern on any athlete’s intake list. For both performance and health, the importance of your water intake exceeds that of your vitamin, calorie, and electrolyte consumption. For your road racing needs, be sure to carry the water bottles and containers that you need on your bike but have extras available for bottles that are tossed and extras for immediate refueling post race. If you’re a mountain bike rider, you know tricky descents can bump a bottle right out of its cage. This time of year, it’s best to wear a full camelback as well as have extra bottles on hand. For longer rides, opt for the Deuter Bike One 20 Hydration Pack- 100oz. You’ll have enough fluids to get your ride in and also soak up the views.
- Stay cool. Think shade and proper clothing. Stay in the shade, warm up in the shade and cool down in the shade. While it may seem insignificant, every effort to keep your body temperature down is important. This includes wearing your sunglasses, having a light-colored helmet, and opening your the zipper on your jersey. For longer rides, draping an ice-filled container around your neck may improve endurance performance.
To train and compete at your best all summer, it is important to understand how your body copes with heat, and what you can do to keep cool. Everyone adapts differently to heat stress. Need more tips? Stop by the Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to chat with our racers, mechanics, and other cyclist to see what works for them. Maybe you’ll learn some new heat-coping strategies that will work for you too.