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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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.