Training in the HeatChris Sproule
Whatever part of the country you live in, the climate presents certain challenges as well as opportunities. While I don’t have the opportunity to train at elevation in Las Vegas, I also don’t have to worry much about rain or snow. In 2020, we had 240 days without rain which gave me a lot of time to get out on the road. With that, however; comes the heat. It can get up to 120 in Las Vegas and being so close to the ground on a handcycle can literally cook. You. I have had a handful of very close calls where I was either ill prepared or have over extended myself and have come close to having to call 911 for help.
I was most commonly ill prepared in that I didn’t have enough water. In temperatures over 100 degrees, I typically don’t go for rides over two hours because then it gets into what I call the danger zone. I usually have a 2L Camelback on my handcycle then shove at least two frozen 32oz. bottles of water in my shorts that melt as I ride. These are used to cool my head every 15-30 minutes even if I’m not feeling like I need it. The key is to hydrate even if you’re not thirsty and cool even if you don’t feel overheated. You need to do this because if you start feeling dehydrated and overheated then your way behind the 8 ball and in a dangerous place.
When it comes to over extending myself, I have learned a couple important things. Always do the uphill first. I’ve gone downhill 30-40 miles and pushed myself too hard only realizing that I somehow had to get home. The other lesson I learned is to try and do a route close to your home. Don’t go 50 miles out and back. Maybe do a five mile loop around your neighborhood that you like. That way, if you get into trouble, you’re only a few minutes from home and not a few hours from home.
Wherever you live, safety is the most important. Helmets, flags, lights, hydration, nutrition…a lot goes into making the most of your ride so take it seriously so you can enjoy it.