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The biggest thing about heat is how used to it you are, or acclimated. Remember in the early spring when it was 70 degrees and now, during summer, in Arizona the temperature can sore to over 100 degrees so you need to ride in the early mornings or go up north. Your body becomes adapted to heat over time but if you try and ride in excessive heat before your body is ready for it you can pay dearly.
Getting used to riding in the heat is the first step to being able to ride comfortably and efficiently when the mercury goes up. Hopefully the temperature eases its way up but if it doesn’t, try avoiding the heat of the day and ride in the early morning before it warms up too much. If you are traveling someplace where it is considerably warmer or if you see in the weather forecast that the temperature is going to be hot, overdress on your rides now. Wear an extra jacket or vest to add a few degrees to your body. Don’t go overboard but if you do, you can simply take it off and cool down. This is an easy way to prepare for riding in the heat without yet having the heat around to ride in.
Whether it is cold or warm you should always hydrate properly. When it’s cold your body won’t feel as inclined to drink as it is to eat but you should make sure to drink enough. When it gets warm you need to drink more than just water as your body needs electrolytes to continue functioning at the same level. Salt, or sodium, along with potassium, magnesium, and calcium will help your body to continue muscle function as well as other life essentials. Electrolytes allow your cells to absorb the nutrients they need. Depending upon how hot it is and how hard you are riding, you should roughly be aiming to drink one 24oz. bottle each hour. This should be primarily sports drink mix but can be supplemented with water.
Prior to riding in the heat you need to make sure you are hydrated going into the hot ride. Focus on drinking enough water and carry around a water bottle throughout your day and make a mental note to drink. This combined with having enough salt in your meals will help your body to be fully hydrated going into your ride. Half an hour or so before your ride you can start drinking small amounts of your sports drink mix. Drinking it before this is not necessary unless it is an electrolyte only drink that only contains electrolytes and no sugar or carbohydrates. Save them for the ride as your body will need to burn them then.
Following a ride you still need to make sure you hydrate. Having a super sugary drink such as soda or a strong sports drink can make your stomach upset so focus on water with electrolytes and some sugar and carbohydrates. A post workout recovery drink can be a good option which combines protein and other building blocks to help you recover from your ride.
Some good food options to eat during the heat are those that are simple and easy to digest. You will want to go lighter on the protein as well as fat as they are harder to digest. Some foods like homemade rice cakes give a good balance of water in the food itself so your stomach doesn’t need to pull water from elsewhere in your body to digest. At rest, foods like watermelon and cantaloupe give a big punch of water so stock up on these if they’re available.