How to prepare for racing or riding during summer heat

How to prepare for racing or riding during summer heat


It’s getting closer and closer to summer which for alot of us means riding in the heat. For some riding in the heat is welcomed if you’re from a place that has snow and very cold climates during winter months. For myself located in sunny California the summer means triple digit heat and lots of sunburns. With the most important race of the year for me coming up in 4 weeks I thought this would be a great time to talk about how to prepare for racing or just riding your bike in the heat. So depsite how you may feel in the heat the body can actually work well in hot temperatures. Actually your body works well at a temperature of 98.6-103 degrees. Your body will actually look to preserve itself above or below these temperature ranges. Another thing to realize is just how important hydration is during hot rides. The human body can lose anywhere from 200 MG per litre of sweat up to 2000 MG per Outreach of sweat. This all just depends on genetics. So replenishing your body with sodium before, during, and after hot rides is very important. If I know I’ll be riding or racing in the heat I will preload myself with a high sodium drink the night before as well as have one more bottle of high sodium mixture about an hour before the ride. You can do this with supplements that offer very high sodium such as OSMO PRELOAD or even salt tablets. Another good tip is to always add extra salt to all your food. While this isn’t a good tip for the average person, for a trained endurance athlete this is a must. You will also need electrolytes added to drink mixtures to help your body stay as hydrated as possible. Try to find a drink mix that has both sodium and electrolytes and you’re on the right path.

Acclimating to hot temperatures is also very critical to being able to operate at a high level in the heat. Heat acclimatisation is useful if your event is somewhere hot, because it teaches your body to sweat. You can do this both indoors or outdoors. If indoors on a trainer, close all the windows turn off your fan and slowly adjust to riding as the heat rising in your home. You can even turn on the heat in your home to help your body adjust. If outside try to plan to ride in the hottest part of the day. I know this all sounds horrible but it will help you on that hot race day. You can also spend 20-30 min a day in a hot sauna to help even more. Typically your body will acclimate to the heat in 10-14 days so make sure to put this into your training plan.

Cooling yourself during these rides or even during warm up for your race can make your performance even better. For example during my warm up for races in the heat I always make sure to find a nice shady area to set up my trainer. Bring a pop up tent if shade is limited. Bring a cooler with plenty of ice and cold water and drink mixes. One trick we all use is taking old panty hose, yes a woman’s old panty hose haha, and cut into sections. Tie a knot on one side then proceed to fill with ice and then tie off the other side. This will make small ice packs that you can stick down your jersey during warm ups or even when sitting on the start line waiting to race. I’ve even left them in during the start of the race as they will slowly melt and the ice cold water helps to cool you down. There’s also more expensive alternatives such as a cooling vest you can put on during your warm up. Whichever way you choose to stay cool is up to you but don’t forget if you start to get lightheaded or feel sick make sure to stop activities immediately.

Last but not least is skin care while riding in the sun. Putting on some kind of sunscreen is so important. Skin cancer is a real problem for people in the sun for prolonged periods. Make sure to apply sunscreen before you start your ride and if riding for more than an hour, reapply throughout ride. My nose will typically get very sunburnt so I apply 3 or 4 times during a 2 hour ride. Chapstick is also another necessity for me while riding in the heat. Lips can get chapped and sun damaged fast. I like to use a lip balm that has some sort of spf protection.

Now that you have a few tips and tricks on how to ride in the heat get out there and have fun riding. Enjoy the beautiful California sun and scenery. When you’re done with the ride my favorite was to recover from a hot ride is in my father in laws nice cool pool.