Beating the heat

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 ┬áso, 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.


  1. Krissy says

    Perfect timing…I rode today and it was 99!! Once I’m done with teaching summer school, I’ll be able to ride earlier in the day, but for now I’ve got to suck it up and ride when I can.

  2. says

    Great tips. I’m doing several of them as I acclimatize to this Texas heat. One of the biggest things that’s helped me is delaying my evening ride a half hour and doing deliberately slow warmup.

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