We had a bunch of errands to run this morning, then the grass needed cutting. I can stay home some weekdays, so today was a day to attend to those chores. By the time I was done and starting to think about taking the bike out, it was 98F (37C). The forecast called for a high of 102F. And there’s no relief in sight — tomorrow’s high is expected to be a record-breaking 103F, and we have forecasted highs in the 100s for the rest of the week.
Last summer, I had a heck of a time dealing with the heat. My performance sagged when the temperatures got past the mid-90s, and I found myself passing up scheduled rides on a regular basis. That in turn lowered my performance level.
This year, I was determined to handle the heat better. I poked around on the Interwebs (“It’s a series of tubes.” — Former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska) to see what the online sages say about it, and here’s what I’m doing this summer.
Step number one — drink more. And not just on rides. I’m drinking throughout the day. A big glass of water before going to bed, and I watch my cyclocomputer’s timer during rides so I remember to take some water every 10 minutes or so.
Two — I carry some kind of electrolyte drink. Currently, I’m using Nuun. One bottle is filled with plain water, one with water and a Nuun tablet. The Nuun isn’t as cloyingly sweet as a lot of sports drinks. In fact, the taste is light, and I can handle it better than other drinks when it warms up 10 minutes into the ride.
Three — Bananas. I eat one or two every day, partly because I’ve always liked them, partly because I know the potassium they contain is important during hot weather.
Four — Sunscreen. I forget to put on sunscreen before rides with some frequency, but now it’s become part of my pre-ride routine. I’ve heard that a generous coating of the stuff will lower skin temperature by as much as 20 percent, and help keep you cool. That hasn’t been my experience yet, but I know I’m better off with it than without it.
Five — Acclimate. Ride a little more in the hotter weather to get used to it. Not my favorite thing to do, but it’s probably necessary.
Six — Ride earlier. This is a no-brainer, and it’s something I’m working on. Instead of going out mid-morning, I’ll go out around 8 a.m. If this heatwave sticks around, that might change to 7 or earlier.
Seven — Take frequent breaks, in the shade. I typically stop every hour or so, and I should do it more often in the kind of weather we’re having now. Even in extremely hot weather, sitting in the shade of a tree with a slight breeze blowing around you will rejuvenate you quickly.
I just checked the temperature again. It’s 99. I’m going for a ride.