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Don't Lose Your Cool
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By Bill Bejeck

Summer is finally here. The days are long and for most cyclists, it is peak riding time. The summer months also bring some possible trouble spots along with the warmer weather. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are very real possibilities for any outdoor enthusiast. Cyclists are no exception. Although a column on this same subject appeared last year, the message is important enough to be repeated. Here are some basic tips that will help you "beat the heat" and enjoy your summer riding.

  1. Ride early or late. One of the best ways to avoid the heat of summer is riding as soon as the sun rises. It is also a little healthier due to the fact that there is not as much pollution in the air earlier in the day. Later in the evening is a good second choice for those whose schedules won't allow early mornings. If you ride on your lunch hour, pay attention to air quality reports. You might be better off doing intervals on a trainer or stationary bike instead of riding outdoors on "code red" days.

  2. DRINK! No, I am not advocating going to happy hour before your ride. Drinking a lot of water during the day every day is your best defense against the heat. Gulping down a big cup right before you ride is not what I mean, either. You need to be loading your body with water all day.

    Active people should be drinking 64 ounces at a minimum. During the very hot days, closer to a gallon may be necessary. Replenishing the fluid you lose after a ride is just as important. A good way to determine how much you should drink after a ride is to weigh yourself before and after. The difference is the amount of fluid that needs to be replaced. If you lost four pounds, for example, you will need to consume at least 64 ounces of water or sports drink afterwards. Try to get into the habit of sipping continuously while riding, instead of riding for a long period of time then drinking a lot in one shot. Every ten minutes or so you should be hitting the water bottle. Structure your long rides to include stops at convenience stores so you can stock up on supplies. Camelbacks are great to use also and make drinking frequently very easy. For short rides (less than one hour) plain water is fine. Any ride longer than one hour, and you are better off with a sports drink. Be careful about the amount of sugar in sports drinks though. More is not always better. Too much sugar will take longer to empty from the stomach, and will leave you feeling bloated.

  3. Clothing. Wearing the proper clothing can make a big difference in the heat of summer.

    Cotton T shirts are a not a great choice. Your body cools when the sweat on your skin evaporates. Cotton T shirts absorb water very well and keep all the sweat trapped against your body, not allowing your natural cooling mechanism to function properly. Synthetic fibers like Coolmax (available at large sporting goods stores or Bike Nashbar) don't hold on to water like cotton shirts do and dry twice as fast, therefor allowing your body to cool itself by sweat evaporation. Bike shorts made of quick drying fibers also make summer riding a lot more comfortable.

Finally, some days you will just have to take it a little easier no matter what you do. So just relax and enjoy the ride! Until next month, keep training!

Bill Bejeck is a full time personal trainer and avid cyclist with his own company called HealthSport. Bill can be reached at Hsport at Gateway.net with questions or comments.

more Ride Schedule

12/9/2016
C * 30 * MD * 9:00 AM * Leave from VMP to Join Friday Lunch Ride * Veirs Mill Park (VMP)

12/9/2016
C * 30 * MD * 10:00 AM * Friday Lunch Ride * Lake Needwood (NEE)

Featured Members
Matthew BirnbaumMatt is Chairman of Potomac Pedalers
Linda B. KolkoLinda is the D/C Ride Coordinator for MD & DC

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