We often get asked - "How do you ride in the heat?! I can't STAND IT!" Well, there are no simple answers, but being native North Texans, we can give you a couple of pointers that will definitely make a difference.
- DRINK MORE, DRINK OFTEN, DRINK MORE OFTEN! - Take a look at this hydration chart. Start by looking at your weight, then, scroll over to columns two and three. I'm weighing in at 160-164 lbs right now, so I'm looking at a MINIMUM of 25 ounces per hour, and in times when I'm really pushing hard, 30 ounces per hour. Sometimes, when it's really hot and humid, I'll consume over 50 ounces per hour!
- THINK about what you DRINK! - Most Sports Drinks trend towards a 6-8% sugar content. Everyone who knows me knows what a fan I am of Osmo Nutrition, and secondly, Skratch (both were developed by Pro Crush, Stacy Sims, who also had a hand in Clif Electrolyte formula). The hotter it gets, the more you want to consume something with fewer overall calories. You're NOT trying to get calories by drinking. You're trying to basically keep FRICTION DOWN at a CELLULAR LEVEL! Osmo is about 3.5% solution, and helps keep you cool. Furthermore, water in the bloodstream helps prevent the bonk better than just about anything else!
- DRINK BEFORE YOU HAVE TO! - Osmo and Skratch both have pre-ride solutions that will help act as anaerobic buffers, will help you basically retain water (your ring finger will get tight), and help you 'stay thirsty my friends' with their good salt setups. These aren't the most flavorful items (they tend to taste like seawater), but they REALLY work. *** Note - women - Try the women's formula at full-strength, BUT, if you feel bloated, then cut the solution down to 1/2 a dose of the powder, with a full dose of the water needed. It'll help you avoid an upset stomach.
- It's not ALL on the inside! - One of the most important things we can do as cyclists, since we're exposed to the sun for hours at a time, is to protect our skin. Sunscreen makes a HUGE difference, and if you're a guy, they make 'mousse' that you can rub in your hair, which will help protect your scalp. Don't forget the small parts, like eartips, the upper neck, the hole in your gloves when you cinch up the velcro, and the chest, when your zipper is down.
- Fabrics Matter! - When you ride, your fabric can literally save your soul. Modern fabrics are designed to have SPF factors in the 30's and 40's, and the stuff that I've gone with, the Louis Garneau jerseys, are treated with a dip called ColdBlack, which literally repels about 40% of the IR rays per square cm that the Sun fires off every moment. Have you ever stuck your hand under a heat lamp at a cafeteria? That's IR energy! So think about that, the next time you're out there roasting. Think about how, for a few extra bucks, you could have something that is still breathable, still comfy, but also helps keep you skin that much cooler. And cooler skin, means less energy expended trying to keep you cool from the inside!
- You CAN be aero AND have great ventilation in a helmet! - Everyone knows that a helmet is a must these days. They're the 'last inch' of protection! But when you're NOT using the helmet as protection, you can expect a modern helmet to channel oncoming air in different ways over the scalp, so that any heat generated can be channeled out the back, and keep your head, literally, cooler. Again - check out the latest helmet from Louis Garneau - yeah, I'm a fanboy, but it really does work.
- What's in YOUR jersey pocket?! - Still too hot? Stuff your valuables like your wallet, keys, and smartphone in a waterproof pouch, and then FILL YOUR SIDE POCKETS TO THE BRIM WITH ICE!!! Yeah - that's right, ICE. Sure, it's messy. Sure, it's going to MELT ALL OVER YOUR LEGS AND LOWER TORSO. But you know what? IF WORKS!!!! Refill every hour that you're out, and watch your watts stay HIGH. (Photo Pending - you'll LOVE it!)
- SONIC! WE LOVE SONIC SLUSHES!!! - Research shows that one of the most effective ways to keep your cool, is to consume beverages made from Ice Slurries. While we don't always have access to a blender while we're out on our rides, we CAN stop at the local Sonic, and have a Wet, HIGH SUGAR-BUZZWORTHY Slushie, in any color/flavor you like, and safely expect that it'll help drop your core temp quite well. Mmmmm!!!!
So that's about it from me regarding this topic. I also have used unhosed Camelbacks filled with ice, and have let them drip down all over me. Furthermore, taking a gallon ziploc, filling it with ice, and then nipping the corners, allows you to stuff it under your jersey and against your back, where it'll melt and drip, much like the ice in your jersey pocket, and allow you to stay cool on an area that is filled with blood vessels that are close to the skin.
Heat stroke is a real threat when the temps and humidity climb. I know - I've had one, and it left me with some damage to my right eye. But with proper strategy and precautions, you SHOULD be able to withstand the heat, and enjoy the ride!
Till next time! Leave With Nothing Left!!