Sickness after travelling to event

I recently traveled from Ireland to Maui to ride the Cycle to the Sun race. I’d wanted to do this since visiting Maui a few years ago, so set the goal to ride it this year.

It’s not an insignificant journey to get there and I wanted to give myself a little time beforehand to acclimatise as the climates in Ireland and Maui are vastly different, so I traveled out a week before. For info, we went direct from Dublin to San Francisco (11 hours flight approx.) with a three and half hour layover before flying direct to Maui (approx. 5 hours).

We rented a condo rather than stay in a hotel. I also rented a bike from Maui Cyclery in Paia (can highly recommend them), as bringing my own bike would be more trouble than it was worth, in my view.

I took the normal precautions, drank plenty of water and kept alcohol to a minimum but a couple of days after landing, I developed a sore throat which turned into a head cold. I should point out that despite trying to sleep with the aircon switched off in the condo, it was too warm and humid, so I ended up switching it on as I really needed to sleep!

I did ride the event and finished, but I didn’t achieve anywhere near the time I’d hoped for.

To get to the point (eventually, sorry), does anyone have any advice on how to manage traveling for an event in a warmer climate and avoiding getting sick and impacting performance?

Thanks in advance!

One tip, based on Team Sky / Ineos practices is to be utterly fanatical about hand washing. Most bugs are transmitted by contact with others, direct or indirect. Travel exposes you to a lot of people and you can pick up germs from them from touching hand rails, pushing baggage carts, brushing past people on planes etc etc. Wash your hands as often as is feasible, carry a bottle of antiseptic get to use too (not as effective as soap and water, but it helps).

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I used to travel a ridiculous amount for work and mostly managed to stay healthy so I don’t believe it’s the airport/aeroplane germ exposure (but yes wash your hands loads) but rather how our bodies respond to stressors.

Just as loads of people get sick as the go on holiday, after they get married and so on is down to running out of steam after a series of stressors, stress can be mental or physical. Flying half way around the world would have been both.

Psychologists speak of General Adaptation Syndrome which I’ll try to sum up briefly. You experience a stressor, you take a slight knock and then your body responds by producing stress hormones to cope and you can function while stressed in an almost super-charged state.
The problem is you can’t carry on in that state for too long and when the stressors pass and we let out that sigh of relief, the defence mechanisms shut down leaving us susceptible to getting ill.

I used to have a race at the end of my season that almost every year I underperformed as I was getting sick just before or right after, it was also a change in environment but not as drastic as yours.

The takeaway is trying to reduce the stressors beforehand. I also verge on paranoia with washing hands in airports and planes and take vitamin C and zinc to boost your immune system.