Cycling in the heat

Given the reduction of performance in the heat, what strategies do you undertake to not decline performance when cycling above 30 degrees?


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Honestly there really isn’t much you can do. I find I just accept it and work within my abilities on that day.
Here a normal summer day is 35c with 60-80% humidity. Often at 6 am it can be 30deg and 100% humidity.
Yes, you do adapt and become used to it, performance does become normalized. But for all the Brits that are getting something they are not used to. Just work within your limits, drop the targets by 10% accept that you may not get 3hrs in to do 2 instead. Try to leave earlier in the morning. I’ll often leave at 4 or 4:30 am if I want to get a long ride in.

How to optimize it, cold drinks, ice packs on your skin, Drink LOTS of electrolytes all of the time not just when riding. Not much else you can do.

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Switch fan up to ‘3’

Otherwise;

Ventilated helmet instead of closed aero
Drink twice as much, one energy one water
Water on head occasionally
Reduce power target 10-15W
Sunscreen incl under jersey
Sockless/gloveless

Cold beers in fridge before riding :beers:

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Some things that I know are recommended to the pro riders:

  • Use gels and bars for energy, just water in bottles so you can drink to thirst, and not screw up energy intake
  • Electrolytes makes you thirsty, have a big glass of water with electrolyte tab in the morning before the ride, then just water in the bottles
  • Base layers are a little bit of marketing, you get better cooling with exposing as much skin as possible to the wind. Open up the jersey instead.
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I don’t follow this advice (maybe I should though), but the other advantage of just water is you can dump it on yourself

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A white jersey is an easy win. Maybe not a huge win, but every bit helps.

Think this is the main thing, and it won’t last long enough for us to get properly acclimatised either.

The other thing is nobody has AC, so there’s no escape! Tempted to drive to my office and sleep in one of the meeting rooms as we do have AC there…

My strategy for cycling is just to wait till Wednesday when it will be back to sensible temps. Does mean I’ll have had 3 days off which I didn’t really need, but beats heatstroke trying to bash out my VO2 intervals!

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Similar to others, just train regular. You body adapts rather quickly (1-2 weeks for noticeable results). I always put a dash of salt into my water bottles too. Adequate hydration is key. I rode past summer with a hydration pack and loved it. It’s not hot enough where I live now to justify one so I don’t anymore.

Apart from 1976 our heatwaves never last that long. They will in future as climate change kicks in. But for now we might be in the 30s one day, and in the 10s the next. Currently 37.5C here, at 5:20pm, east of England. Did one hour of recovery riding at 6:30am this morning. An hour of endurance tomorrow and another earlyish start before it warms again.

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Those 2 are both huge.

You can acclimatize to heat, just like cold but that’s tough when you get well out of the ordinary temps.

And, its WAY easier to suck it up for a hot ride if a) you know you’ll get to come into an air conditioned house at the end and b) it really starts to wear you down when you’re semi overheated 24/7 and sleeping like crap because of the heat.

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And why my off-season is during the middle of a hot NorCal summer…

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Pay attention to the humidity. Even though it might be hotter later in the day, a (marginally) cooler but super humid morning ride can often be more uncomfortable than a hot but less humid ride later since you get basically zero evaporative cooling in high humidity.

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This 100%. Nice to have something that you can dump on yourself, but stuff that’s going into me is going to have some sodium in it.

Biggest thing while acclimating is to understand the signs of when you’re body is done for the day. Heat stroke can screw up a ride pretty damn fast. If you’re feeling off, pull the plug. Riding with heat stroke isn’t worth it.

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I’m glad I’m further north (almost in Scotland)

It was surprisingly comfortable this morning from about 0730. Walked the dogs for 30 mins, did an hour of VO2 intervals (Cramer) and then another 90 mins of (mostly) Z2.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings …

I’m in Texas and dealing with 100-110 F days right now.

  • Acclimate. After a few weeks now I find it much easier.
  • Wear white - helmet and jersey
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. I go through up to 1.5 bottles per hour with frequent refill stops to buy water. I map routes carefully this time of year for convenience stores.
  • Electrolytes - critical for me. I add extra electrolytes to my bottles or use Skratch hyper hydration.
  • Start early - I try to start my Sat rides at daybreak and get 1-2 hours in before the sun really gets up. I have a buddy who has started rides at 3:30 AM and there are also night time gravel rides in he area.
  • Have a pool to fall into when you get home :slight_smile:
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Douse legs with water. Pro MTBers do it all the time.

I use a Camelbak 21oz regular podium bottle with its cap replaced with Camelbak’s “Reign” 3-way cap with stream, closed, and shower modes. I have used a regular bottle, but most of the water seems to sheet off my legs. With the Reign cap, I can use the shower mode to more efficiently spray my thighs with water during long endurance races.

On the fence about using a Mission cooling gaiter on the bike, although I haven’t used it yet. I will, however, use it when I need to wrench my fleet during the hot summers (like now!).

My issue with something like these are, they rely on the process of evaporation to cool. when the dew points are 65*+ and the RH is over 70%, evaporation is such a slow process at that point that it doesn’t provide much cooling.

I’m considering something that includes some kind of frozen medium.

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Nothing. I love it. Add in some humidity for schitts and giggles…fine with me.

While others wilt, I thrive in it. The hotter, the better.

Research has shown that the optimal temperature for running a marathon is 49 degrees Fahrenheit. I’d imagine there is an optimal temp for cycling as well.

Anything warmer than that you body is using energy to cool itself. When it gets really warm you have no choice but to slow down. There’s nothing you can do… though there are things you can do to try to reduce the effects of heat. For example: Galen Rupp wore a chilled, damp hat in the Brazil Olympics and changed them out at water stops. Before the Olympics in Athens U.S. marathoners Meb & Deena wore cooling vests. All medaled. I don’t know if that worked or was a gimmick so take that with a grain of salt. For us normal folk the best thing we can do is to make sure we are hydrated.

Was not too bad yesterday morning but in Manchester it was already 28 degrees when I left the house at 8 this morning.

Fortunately I am at a meeting in a lovely air conditioned conference centre this morning but I then have to drive to the office at lunchtime and the AC in my car has packed up (probably just needs re gassing but it’s so long since I have used it!). Apparently it will be 38 degrees.

Looks like it’s due to break this evening and back to reasonable temps tomorrow (18-19 degrees), although I gather still hot down South. So I’ve just taken three days off and will make up for it later in the week. Less than ideal but not the end of the world.

Hoping we don’t have this for London Edinburgh London in August. I guess they would have to cancel if it was going to be 35 degrees for any period of time, it’ll be dangerous. I saw a bunch of marathons and stuff were cancelled at the weekend.