By Diane Stibbard
Now that summer is well underway, some parts of the country are hitting record high temperatures, with humidity levels running between 60 and 100 percent. Hot weather is a challenge for cyclists but don’t worry, your body adapts to these conditions quickly.
How? Within ten to twelve days you’ll start sweating earlier, and you’ll sweat more. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling through evaporation. As you acclimatize to the heat, you’re less likely to experience heat-related injuries like muscle cramps and heat stroke when you’re cycling.
The high humidity that often accompanies hot weather brings additional challenges to summer cycling. On very humid days the air is saturated with water. So your sweat doesn’t evaporate the way it usually does. That means your body doesn’t cool down as much as it needs to. This puts you at high risk for dehydration and possibly ending up with heat related injuries.
The solution? Replace lost fluids at regular intervals during exercise.
Cycling In Hot, Humid Weather
7 Cool Tips:
1. Start your ride well-hydrated. Drink 16 ounces of water before bedtime. In the early morning top up again with 16-24 ounces. Then during your ride drink another 4-8 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes. (a regular-size sport bottle contains 12-16 ounces)
2. If you’re riding for longer than ninety minutes, or riding sixty minutes at high intensity, the best choice is a sports drink. Sports drinks replace sodium and important electrolytes lost through sweat.
3. After your ride, drink 16-24 ounces of water in the first hour. Then, after that, sip water regularly to top up your fluid levels. If you want be certain you’ve replaced the fluid lost during your ride, weigh yourself before and after the ride. See how much weight you lost. For every pound of weight lost, drink 24 ounces of water.
4. If possible, ride in the early morning to avoid higher temperatures. However, even with lower morning temperatures you still have to be cautious. Humidity levels are higher in the morning and winds tend to be lighter. This means your sweat won’t evaporate as quickly as it will later in the day when the wind picks up and the humidity levels drop. So be vigilant and make sure you drink enough water.
5. Before heading out for your ride, check humidity levels on the weather channel. If they are higher than fifty percent and the humidex reading is 5-10 degrees higher than the actual temperature, take an extra water bottle in your jersey.
6. Wear light-coloured cycling shorts and wear a good sweat-wicking jersey or T-shirt to keep your body cooler and dryer.
7. If you feel dizzy or light-headed take a break in the shade. Apply water to your wrists and head to cool your body down. Heat injuries occur when your exercise heat load exceeds your body’s ability to regulate your body temperature. Heat injuries can be serious and should be treated immediately.
As a world class duathlete, Diane Stibbard brings a rare combination of expertise, motivation and knowledge to her Toronto based business Down Under Fitness. She knows that the driving force to reach any goal comes from a deep desire within. As a trainer, she has a unique ability to help individuals embrace this desire to achieve their athletic potential.
Down Under Fitness provides aerobic testing, training programs for highly competitive athletes and recreational individuals, nutritional counseling, personal training, and athletic injury prevention and rehabilitation.