How to Prepare for Cycling in Hot Weather?
It’s summer already! Hot! Hot! Hot summer!
We all know that cycling in hot weather for a long time will lead to some discomforts, such as sunstroke, heat fatigue, heat up catch a cold, diarrhoea as well as some other mental illnesses. It does harm to the human body is staying in high temperature, let alone cycling for a long period. Statistically, nighty-night percent of all acute sunstroke cases are fatal.
In a high temperature environment, due to the heat stress state where your body is in, with your sympathetic nerves getting exciting, you sweating a lot, your blood viscosity increasing, your cardiovascular system running in a high road state and you’re your digestive system weakening, it will lead to heavier illness and it may induce heart disease, coronary heart disease and other diseases.
Every year in the Tour of France, professional cyclists are facing a major problem: how to manage to keep their body temperature. Researchers and scientists want to work out the problem by nutrition, training equipment and other aspects. In the Tour of France in 2014, Thomas in the Team Sky fell behind in the 13th stage because of the extremely hot weather thus missed the championship. You see, sometimes, the influence of the weather temperature on the game is decisive.
Hot weather indeed is the enemy of a people who obsess about cycling, especially girls who don’t want to be sunburned. So, what should we do to survive the hot weather without losing the fun of cycling?
1. Keep hydrated.
The 72 percent of our body is made of water and water, electrolytes are the main thing that makes up our blood. In order to keep our body in a good state, we need to finish the race without dehydration. In other words, we should keep our weight change within 2 percent of the initial weight. If we fail to do that, our performance in the race will be affected. It should come as no surprise that cyclists will lose a lot of water and electrolytes during racing in hot weather. Theoretically, dehydration will cause the following effects: core temperature rising, muscle contraction decreasing, carbohydrate absorption insufficient and decision making error caused by mental fatigue.
Keeping hydrated so as to keep your blood volume sufficient is one of the most important ways to perform stably. Although we try the best we can do, a slight loss of water is inevitable in some circumstances and we shall not worry too much about that.
When racing in the hot weather, a cyclist’s perspiration could be up to 1.5 L per hour and it depends on the specific mission. This means you should re-hydrate for nearly 9 litres water to ensure without dehydrating too much. In an ideal case, a cyclist should have 8.82 litres water in the game.
In the Tour of France, cyclists should pay attention to their physical state of dehydration from the very minute they wake up. Observe the colour of your urine every morning when peeing, and compare it to the comparison graph to know our state. Keep drinking water before the big event if you are in a dehydrated state. Using the urine test instrument to analyze the urine also is a great way to judge your physical state.
Within the first 20 minutes after training, rehydrate with at least two or three cups of sports drink for every pound of body weight lost is very necessary to keep hydrated.
3. Supple electrolyte--- sodium.
Sodium places an essential role for cyclists as it not only can keep the plasma volume but also can deliver water from the blood to muscles. So it is of vital importance to ensure there is some sodium in the cyclists’ drink in order to keep their body working in a proper order. There is sodium in our sweat, so, a lot of sweat will make a huge loss of sodium.
The good news is that it’s very easy to replenish sodium as salt is comprised of sodium and chloride. If there are some little white particles on your clothes, that’s the sodium you lose. Then you should pay serious attention to sodium and electrolytes intake. Eating some saltier food, drinking some salty water before the big event is very useful. Salt pills also work very well during the big event.
4. Pay attention to the road conditions.
Black asphalt pavement is very easy to absorb heat from the sun thus the road temperature can reach 50-80℃easily, which means the pavement is like a 蒸笼。When the shady place temperature is 32-40℃, cyclists may feel 50℃ or even higher. In some circumstances, the extreme temperature may soften the road and lead to some accidents. Pay extreme attention to the road conditions and move to a shady area if possible to lower your body temperature.
5. Wear proper clothing.
Clothing in light colours will enable cyclists to stay cooler than the dark clothing as dark colour absorb heat. In addition, you can wear a looser fit and lighter fabric to increase air circulation and help to wick sweat away from the body. You can speed up evaporation and cool yourself more quickly by wear wet clothing than changing into dry clothes. What is more, it makes it cooler if wear your biking clothes under your wetsuit. Clothes with mesh can increase air circulation and speed up evaporation as well. Wearing ice vest is a great way, too.
6. Reduce the core temperature.
Usually, when the temperature is over 25℃, we will consider the use of Smoothie therapy as it can improve the cyclists’ performance by 3-8 percent. The effect would be more obvious in a shorter and fiercer stage, like TT stage. The study also showed that Smoothie therapy can help recover more efficiently.
7. Acclimate to the hot weather.
Researches showed that when living in the environment 1℃ or 2 hotter than the core temperature for 4 to 10 days, a healthy adult will produce adaptability to the high temperature. In this case, your resting core temperature will decrease, your plasma volume will increase as well as your sweat rate. Staying to your race location weeks before the big event is one of the best ways to acclimatize. In short, for those professions, a few kilometres’ cycling will help them adapt to the thermal environment.
Doing regular cycling for an hour to 90 minutes outside, and try to turn your house into a hotter place by turning up the heat and limiting the airflow to make yourself acclimate to the hot environment.
I really hope this passage will help maximize your cycling performance in hot weather. Bear in mind to keep hydrated, rehydrate, supple sodium, wear proper clothing, lower your core temperature and acclimate the hot environment in advance.
Hope all of you have a great performance this summer!