Remember the cool and wet spring weather that seemed to last until yesterday? Well those days are gone! Welcome to summer and riding in the heat!
On long rides or days when it heats up quickly, it’s best to be prepared to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, or worse–heat stroke. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion including fatigue, dizziness, cramping, confusion, headache, and nausea/vomiting. Heat stroke occurs when the body’s core temperature reaches 105°F or greater.
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If you have any symptoms of heat exhaustion while riding, DO NOT suck it up and try to keep going. It’s OK to cut any ride short if you are wilting in the heat! Watch out for your cycling buddies too–if someone doesn’t appear to be “with it”, ask if she’s alright. Stay safe. It’s OK to call for a ride if you need it!
Here are some tips to keep you going when the going gets hot:
Ideally, hydrate in advance — be proactive! It’s always easier to prevent dehydration than try to catch up. Drink 32 ounces of liquid in the morning before long, hot rides. Don’t do this the night before unless you want to wake up a few times to give it back!
For rides longer than an hour, have one water bottle filled with an electrolyte replacement drink of your choice (e.g., Skratch, Osmo, or Nuun) and plain water in another bottle or Camelbak. Taking in a 2-to-1 ratio — two ounces of water for every one ounce of electrolyte drink is recommended, and you should drink about every 15 minutes. The Venus routes are planned so that there are rest stops to refill.
Also consider salty snacks such as pretzels or electrolyte chews/gels (e.g., Honey Stingers, Skratch, Clif Shot Energy Gels, and Clif Bloks Energy Chews) to help maintain sodium and potassium levels. If your fluid loss exceeds your fluid intake, you will become dehydrated.
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Plan in Advance
Freeze one bottle at half full and another at the three-quarter mark the night before a ride. The morning of your ride, top them off. Carry one in your rear center jersey pocket to help keep your core cool. Once the ice melts, you can use the water to douse your head, arms, or wet the padding inside your helmet.
Sunburn contributes to fatigue and increases fluid needs. Always wear sunscreen (Current members get a 25% discount from our sponsor Zealios.)! Choose a light-colored jersey of lightweight, moisture-wicking material. Sun sleeves for arms and legs can also help protect you from baking in the sun (Bright-colored sun sleeves also increase your visibility in traffic — BONUS!). A neck cooler (such as Kafka’s Kool Tie available at REI) filled with polymer crystals slowly releases water when wet to cool your carotid arteries, keeping your internal temperature down.
Pour cool water over your head, neck, and forearms while at a rest stop.
A post-ride meal or recovery drink within 90 minutes of riding is recommended as it helps you rehydrate and repair muscle. A protein-based recovery drink is a good idea for rehydrating — protein pulls water into your muscles.
Plain water with a snack or meal that contains protein, carbohydrates, and sodium will also help. A bagel and peanut butter, a turkey sandwich on wholegrain bread, a turkey or chicken wrap, or chocolate milk can also do the trick!