Here in Colorado, we’re now into super warm temps and managing the heat while riding and racing is critical not only to comfort, but also performance. Many cyclist, whether recreational or competitive, find dealing with the heat an issue.
Think about it. Heat is the ultimate enemy for a cyclist, because after a point, the hotter you get, the slower you’ll go. If the weather won’t cooperate to be cooler, then what can you do about it?
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.
If you haven’t exposed yourself to the warmer temps, you should. One tip is to 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.
This is obvious, but an often overlooked component. Hydrate. 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 road 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 hydration pack as well as have extra bottles on hand.
Protect yourself from the sun. While some enjoy exposure to the sun, a sunburn does more than fry your skin – it contributes to fatigue and increases your metabolism. Always wear sunscreen; choose jerseys, shorts, and arm skins with built-in sun protection; and wear a cap under your helmet to shield your head.
Plan ahead. Planning your route in advance and knowing where the nearest sources of water can be handy in case you find yourself running low at any point. Also, planning a route with options to shorten the ride or take a shortcut back to your starting point in case you start to struggle is also a good plan. If possible with your schedule, consider riding during the cooler times of the day.
Recover. This seems like another overlooked strategy but after a long day in the saddle and the heat, you really do need to cool off. Get your legs up. Stay in the shade or AC. It is important to get your core body temperature down so you can recover. We all know that recovery is a critical element of preparing for the next bout of exercise. One of our favorite recovery products at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop is PhysioPhyx. PhysioPhyx LPR takes recovery nutrition to a new level of support and performance by delivering a powerful, evidence-based blend of Carbohydrates + Protein + Leucine. In fact, recent studies have shown the nutrient trio of Carbs +Protein + Leucine taken after exercise creates an absolute ideal environment for your body to quickly go into recovery overdrive.
With that said, training and riding in the heat doesn’t have to be so bad. Wear cooling cycling apparel. Ride a bike with proper functioning bike parts to avoid over excretion. Need more tips? Stop by the Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado to chat with our racers, mechanics, and other cyclist to see what works for them.