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Heat and Distance

Old 07-07-20, 08:55 AM
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Revracer
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Heat and Distance

What techniques work for you to manage heat on a long distance ride? I attempted to ride 109 miles, started out at 8:30. Early part of ride had shade and 80F temps, but when noon hit, I was in Lancaster County farmland, no tree cover and my Garmin was reading 101F but I believe that was boosted by hot pavement as most weather forecasts were stating closer to 95F. At 75 miles I felt dizzy and was pretty sure I had heat exhaustion. While I think I had consumed enough fluids 3xGatorade, 1xScratch, 6xWaters, 1xIcedTea, I also know I kept sweating and actually never felt much urge to urinate so I suppose I could have drank more. A few other thoughts included taking a break in shade sooner or finding a creek to sit in.

I also found the convenience stores were not at a helpful spacing for me and I started to seek them out.

After resting in shade for over 30 minutes, attempting to get back on bike was a no go. It was a good learning experience on what the limit feels like for me, but frustrating if I wanted to tackle more summer brevets.
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Old 07-07-20, 09:09 AM
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I did two long rides (300K brevet & 100 mile invitational ride) in high heat last summer. What worked for me was to have a cloth tube filled with ice around my neck. I kept refilling it at every control/rest stop. I also would put ice in my sports bra (I had learned this trick when I did a 1/2 Ironman triathlon in high heat). While the ice never lasted until the next control, it did keep me from getting completely miserable. I am a snow bunny by nature so really do try to avoid long efforts in high heat.

Of course, I also drank lots of fluid and also used SaltStick capsules to help replenish what I sweated out. I'm a "salty" sweater.
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Old 07-07-20, 12:55 PM
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Do you know what the dew point was when you were riding?

I try to avoid any serious exertion if the dewpoint is in the upper 60s to 70s. That is just too humid. You can be dripping sweat, but if the dewpoint is in the 70s, your skin can't cool below the dew point temperature so if you are trying any high wattage exertion you might have trouble shedding the heat you produce. In such conditions, you need to keep your wattage levels reasonable.

More on dew point here:
https://www.weather.gov/arx/why_dewpoint_vs_humidity

I did a bike tour in Everglades and Florida Keys in Feb 2017, dewpoint was usually around 70 degrees (F). Thus oppressive all the time. We did ok even though we live in Wisconsin, thus had zero time to acclimate our bodies to hot humid weather, we went from dead of snowy winter straight to hot humidity. We kept our energy expenditure at reasonable levels and tried to avoid over-exerting ourselves and that worked for us. And, on the days with the most oppressive heat forecasts, we tried to start riding as soon after sunup as possible so we could quit before it got really hot.

If your weather forecast sources do not tell you predicted dew points, find other forecast sources.

Photo on the morning we rode out of Everglades, soon after we started riding in the fog with sunrise in front of us, outline of my touring partner riding in front of me. I had both my taillights on in flash mode for obvious reasons.

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Old 07-07-20, 01:03 PM
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I don't know that I could handle drinking that much, my own rule is a bottle an hour, maximum... anymore than that (for me) is just sloshing around my belly and eventually I don't feel any good, and I've got to stop and pee more too. My understanding is that the body can only absorb so much water and it can't absorb more just because it's hot out. I don't take electrolytes beyond whatever is in the food I eat, and I usually have some sandwiches, chips (sweet chili heat doritos are my faves lately) and often I will nibble on candy as I ride. I did a 200k last week and lost 8lbs over the 9.5 hours I was out. I felt great after the ride, tired of course but I hadn't gone too hard and seemed to have drank the right amount of fluids for me. I echo the comments about moderating effort, that seems to be the only surefire way to keep yourself from overheating.
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Old 07-07-20, 01:04 PM
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You probably need to get up earlier, TBH. When I do 75-100 miles in the saddle, I roll out closer to 6 AM so the bulk of the ride is finished before the heat of the day.

Modulating efforts and short stops work, too.
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Old 07-07-20, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Revracer View Post
What techniques work for you to manage heat on a long distance ride?
1. Being already well-hydrated prior to the effort. (Starting the night before.)

2. Having plenty of liquids (including electrolytes) along the way, at an intake far greater than my "usual" (lower-temps) intake.

3. Carrying a couple of bottles of ice can help, as they'll melt as the ride progresses, yet offer cooler fluids for intake. Or, normal bottle cages with water/electrolyte, and a bar or trunk bag containing a couple bottles of crushed ice.

4. Have several "convenience" stops (to hydrate, rest, get out of the heat, etc). Depends on route selection, of course. On hotter days, I've always tried to keep "closer to home" (ie, closer to lots of people, spots where water and food could be had, where a phone call could get made if needed).

5. Go at reduced effort, particularly if the route is longer, the heat hotter, or the challenge greater than normal. (As with a hillier course, or several more hours than usual, or 10-20F hotter than usual.) Smarter and safer, when it gets really hot, or when the body's just not "on" that day in those conditions. It happens. Better that, than heatstroke (which is no joke).

6. Definitely, avoiding the hottest part of the day. If that means rides or runs before 9am or after 8pm, so be it. Have done that on a few occasions, when there was no other way to get the work in, given an upcoming race and temps in the approaching weeks getting "up there." Or, can select a route where the hardest portions are done in lower temps, leaving the easier stuff for the hotter and uglier part of the day.

Have done these basic steps on 12+ hour hikes, 3+ hour runs, and 3+ hour rides, all in temps ranging from 85-110F. Won't necessarily work for everyone, but I found these basic steps to work for me.

Obvious stuff, but still.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:47 PM
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Training and acclimatization help, but only to a point. In that process, you can figure out how fast you can sweat (I can sweat about 2 quarts/hour, for instance), and how fast you can absorb fluids (for me, that's only 1 quart/hour). Pre-hydrate, get on the bike, and start drinking.

When my stomach starts sloshing, it usually means I need more salt.

When all else seems to fail, stop at an air-conditioned convenience store and get a popsicle or slushy, and consume that while chilling inside. (Not sure how to do that while wearing your mask indoors!)

Good luck!
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Old 07-07-20, 07:35 PM
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These are all great tips and a few I will translate into my next attempt:

1) Pre-hydrate - that was a fail as I poorly estimated the importance.
2) Planning - I didn't actually include planned stops, just assumed I would find some along the way
3) Slosh is good - I don't feel like I ever reached slosh, so even all that I consumed, I must have sweat more out
4) Ice on Body - I debated this as even pouring warm bottle water over my head was cooling, so using some to pour over me would be good
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Old 07-07-20, 08:52 PM
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My power output drops under heat. I always end up stopping more often, preferably inside air-conditioned convenience stores, for cold drinks or ice cream, but even just a shade is better than nothing. Really have to watch your effort and hydration while riding under heat, very easy to get into some nasty state from the heat.
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Old 07-08-20, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Revracer View Post
3) Slosh is good - I don't feel like I ever reached slosh, so even all that I consumed, I must have sweat more out
Slosh means you've got a one way ticket to Pukesville.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
Slosh means you've got a one way ticket to Pukesville.
Not necessarily. Sometimes I can reverse it with salt, either pills or V-8. Getting some solid food into the stomach is also good, particularly when consumed in air conditioning (hard to do with a mask on, nowadays!). But do something quickly, or your ride is over or delayed for hours.
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Old 07-08-20, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
My power output drops under heat.
Everyone's does. The phenomenon is called
cardiovascular drift cardiovascular drift
. Your body is working harder to keep itself cool, and less blood flow is available to oxygenate your muscles.

I can't remember where I read it (and I don't know if it is accurate), but I seem to recall that for every degree above 90F, your heart rate goes up 1 bpm.
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Old 07-09-20, 02:57 PM
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As someone who lives in Oklahoma and spent his early childhood in snowy New England, I would add one other suggestion to this great list. Think about extreme summer as being similar to extreme winter. When it's brutally hot and humid sometimes the best answer is to cut that 100 mile ride down to 60 miles. We don't think twice about such a strategy in extreme winter, but in the peak of summer we want to believe we can just power through it. But we need to be aware that summer, like winter, can create conditions we sometimes should just avoid. That said, I do love long solitary summer afternoon rides.
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Old 07-09-20, 04:04 PM
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I see a lot of good ideas from other posters here but two things missing... A) Start earlier, I am out in Arizona, so I am familiar with heat issues, I try to get out at 5am. B. Besides drinking before rollout, put yourself on a hydration schedule). Using your cycle computer elapsed time, to keep you on schedule, drink at least a bottle an hour. I have found out that if I fall behind schedule, sometimes it an be difficult to catch up. One time I did the Davis Double (century), ate too much lunch (another thing to watch out for), fell behind a hydration schedule and like you, I was spent after 175 miles.
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Old 07-09-20, 07:24 PM
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Firstly, wear a HRM. It's hard to tell what's going on inside without knowing HR while you're riding. After you've used one for a while, you'll know about where your HR should be for various efforts. Then on a hot ride, if your HR starts climbing more than it should, and especially if it stays high when you stop, you're dehydrated and you need to drink more. If your HR is like 120 when you're stopped, it's getting into the desperate zone and you need to sit in the shade and drink until it comes down. Don't have to be indoors, just shade. If you haven't peed for 3 hours, same. No pee, sit in the shade and drink until you pee. Not thirsty? Take more electrolytes. I use Endurolytes, 1-4/hour, depending, enough to cause thirst. Thus the more I drink per unit time, the more Endurolytes I have to take to keep myself thirsty. They also prevent sloshy stomach. In fact if I get sloshy, I take a couple of Endurolytes and sip water until I feel it empty. I can even be climbing while I wait for that good feeling. Usually sloshy stomach is from eating too much or eating stuff other than carbs.

You should have been fine to ride after your break, or would have been if you'd drunk enough water to have had to pee. The other possibility is that you were low on fuel. Many times riders get low on fuel in the heat because eating doesn't even sound good. For that reason I drink almost all my food on the bike, a maltodextrin and whey protein mix, 750 calories/bottle. Nothing leaves the stomach as quickly as malto. If you have an HRM, you'd notice HR drop when you're low on fuel. Of course when it's hot, that doesn't work as well.

I also separate my electrolytes from my water because there's not one answer for how much electrolyte and how much water. It'd be incredibly frustrating to me not to be able to have water and electrolytes separate. Also in hot weather I always wear a 2 liter Camelbak and carry my food bottle and usually a second empty bottle in my cages. The empty is handy for refilling the Camelbak and can be filled with water too if it's going to be a long way to the next water. If I'm going to be out in the wilderness with a long way between stops and there might be stream water, I also carry a Steripen, 6 oz. and quite small.
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Old 07-10-20, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Not necessarily.
No, perhaps not, but it's a good start. One needs to manage the quantity and nature of what they consume to prevent it. As you say you might be able to salvage the situation, but maybe not.

My post was just reacting to the OP's misunderstanding that a sloshy stomach is somehow a good thing. I couldn't let that stand.
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Old 07-10-20, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
No, perhaps not, but it's a good start. One needs to manage the quantity and nature of what they consume to prevent it. As you say you might be able to salvage the situation, but maybe not.

My post was just reacting to the OP's misunderstanding that a sloshy stomach is somehow a good thing. I couldn't let that stand.
Good for you. I've seen riders bonk because of sloshy stomach and once and only once nearly bonked myself before I figured out why. Calories go away quickly on multiple long climbs.
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Old 07-13-20, 03:37 PM
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I'm in central Florida and it has been hotter and more humid earlier this season than last. During the week I just get out whenever I can but now take along extra water and electrolytes even for a 2-hr ride. For me, 0830 is way too late for a century or longer; I would need to be rolling by 0600-0630.

I did 75 miles the 2 weeks ago and this is what I brought/did:

_2 large water bottles: one insulate with icy water, the other frozen with electrolyte mix
_bag of fig bars and peanut butter pretzels
_left early-ish (0715)
_started slowly and tapered off
_started pushing something salty an hour in
_stopped for ice about every 2 hours
_took a 15-minute shade break in the final third of the ride.

I was able to finish strong and feel good about the ride.

Heat is nothing to play with, but starting early and managing both nutrition and effort should get you that 109.
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Old 07-14-20, 02:33 AM
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Heat acclimatisation helps a bit, so I make a point of doing rides even when it starts getting uncomfortable.

On top of all the great suggestions already made by others, I wear long sleeve jerseys even in summer (for UV protection) but I soak the sleeves in water whenever I fill up my bidons from a tap or soak them from any other water source. The evaporation helps quite a bit. It takes about five times more heat to evaporate 1 kg of water than to melt 1kg of ice and bring it up to room temperature.

I also take a small towel with me and soak it in water. It helps to remove salt from the face and it can cool my neck.

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Old 07-26-20, 06:08 AM
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I'm pretty bad in the heat. Years ago, I did an intense 7 day cycle tour over the Snowy Mountains (southeastern Australia), and got heatstroke on the first day. (Writeup here: https://steventuring.wordpress.com/2...owy-mountains/ ) The forecast for the week was constant 37C (99F) every day in the valley (fortunately, a few of the days were at much higher elevation).

For me, what I've learnt from that and since are:
- drink a lot before starting (constant small sips from the moment I get up)
- start very early, and nap during the heat of the day, if possible
- drink plenty with electrolytes
- wear a wet travel towel under my helmet (I call it "towel of life"), refresh it as often as possible (very easy to just pour water in through the helmet vents)
- if passing any rivers/creeks, get off the bike for a full soak. I go in fully clothed, shoes and all. Obviously you eventually dry out, but usually the first 15 minutes is bliss, and the next 15-30 minutes is pretty comfortable.
- cancel if the forecast is too high. (There are limits to what I can safely ride in. I generally won't ride in >35C, and I'm pretty iffy about anything over 30C)
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