Tips for Summer Cycling
Living in California we have great training weather year round. However, the summer months can be brutal on a body that is not prepared. Here are ideas on how to keep the heat from beating you so you can perform at your optimal level.
Hydrate. Perspiration depletes the body of water, minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium), trace metals (zinc, copper, iron, chromium, nickel, and lead), lactate, and urea. It is important to remember that when you feel thirsty, you are already 2% dehydrated, which equates to a decline of 6–11% max power. Therefore, replacing a balance between water, carbohydrates, sodium and other electrolytes is vital. It’s the “balance” that aids absorption too. So how much do you need an hour? The OSMO website suggests upwards to 0.185 ounces per pound of body weight for hotter and/or more intense rides. That equates to 32 ounces of balanced fluid per hour for a 173 pound athlete. Remember, it’s always best to train with a product prior to using it for your big event. Also, try several products. Some taste too sticky or sweet when hot.
Train and race in clothing that promotes evaporation from the skin. Lightweight, appropriate fitting clothing will allow more air to pass over the body for an added cooling effect. Avoid dark clothing which absorbs light rays and promotes radiant heat. Slippery palms are bad on a bike. Get a good pair of light weight gloves (usually fingerless) to ensure good contact during wet conditions. Many gloves have the added benefit of a built-in towel on the back for wiping the brow. Finally, after exercise, get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. Consider bringing wet-wipes, a dry set of clothing and sandals for after your activity.
Acclimate to the heat. Do not expect to perform at the same intensity/heart rate throughout the acclimation period. Be smart and adjust training intervals to allow for higher than normal heart rates. Additionally, acclimatization to the heat does not reduce your risk for dehydration. Though the body can become more efficient at cooling the body, acclimatization does not train your body to need fewer fluids (or calories) than recommended.
Use Sunscreen. This is obviously something that should be done all year round.
Replace Helmet Padding. This will help keep sweat from getting into your eyes.
Headband. Many like to use them to channel sweat away from the eyes.
Sunglasses Accessory. Tired of sweat streaks on your sunglasses? Try using pre-moistened lens cloths wipes. They work well on cycle computer screens too.
Electrolytes to go. Create or buy single serve electrolyte mix packs to carry and add to your water on those long rides.
Light. A flashing light in shaded areas can alert oncoming traffic to your presence.
Route Selection. Be kind to yourself, train in shade when possible.
Check with you bike shop to properly equip for summer.
Richard Asturias, DC
Chiropractor, Wenzel Cycling Coach