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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Tampa Bay area
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    27

    Heat + Humidity = Wall

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    Hello all, and first, thank you for such a great forum!
    I'm getting back in to cycling after about a 20 years hiatus, and oh, how I love it. Been riding now for about 2-3 months.

    However, (and there's always a however), I live in Florida, and it is August. At 9:44am, the bank sign said 86 degrees. An estimate of the humidity would be about equal to the temp. I started this morning at 6:45, just at sunrise. At about mile 27, I stopped for a trail mix and stretch break. At mile 33 or so, I hit the "I can't do this anymore" wall, which was unfortunate as I still had another 7 miles to get home. I stopped into a Dunkin Donuts, got an iced coffee with cream/sugar, and got back on. The last few miles were not pretty, but I made it home - average speed only 11.7mph, which even for my slow self is sad. So with that long intro, my question for you more experienced riders is twofold:
    1. How do you deal with heat and humidity without wilting in the saddle? I've seen some neck cooler cloths out there, any help? Anything you do that makes it more bearable?
    2. How do you deal with hitting the wall? What gets you through?
    Many thanks,
    B

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    1,352
    There are much better and much more experienced cyclists here, but I'll give my .02 living here in Houston. My opinion is you build up to it. You ride the fall, winter, spring and build your miles and speed and then as the temps raise it doesn't hit you as hard. I also found a camelback helped me. For whatever reason I remember to drink more often with a camelback than I do with bottles. I only use the camelback in summer.

    YMMV, that worked for me last year when I was training for Hotter N Hell in August. This year I'd be lucky to do 30.
    2012 Jamis Quest Brooks B17 Blue
    2012 Jamis Dakar XC Comp SI Ldy Gel
    2013 Electra Verse

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    45 miles today with a high of 92, but very low humidity fortunately.

    How often were you drinking? I was drinking about every ten minutes today. Arm coolers really do help here, but with your humidity they may be less effective.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    In humidity, arm coolers aren't any cooler than bare arms, but they ARE cooler than skin slathered with sunblock that keeps you from sweating and cooling yourself at all. If you use sunblock, I highly recommend ditching that at least on your arms and using arm coolers (or a bolero) instead.

    +1 on better hydration, and that includes electrolyte replacement. Doesn't sound like you got much salt at all. Remember that you're losing a minimum of 500 mg sodium per liter of water (half hour to 45 minutes of riding in that kind of weather, most likely) and your body can't absorb water without salt. My electrolyte replacement of choice is Nuun U Naturals, but there are a lot of good options, most of them more easily available at your LBS, and even if you're just buying at a convenient store, you can buy a bottle of Gatorade, swipe a salt packet off the hotdog display and dissolve all or part of it into the drink bottle. If you aren't thirsty in those conditions I'd bet my house it's because you're hyponatremic.

    A hydration pack has pros and cons. I will definitely wear one in hot weather if I can't carry more than two water bottles, but in Florida where there's practically nowhere you can go without passing at least a convenient store or something, you may do better just stopping frequently for refills. Obviously wearing something on your back prevents you from cooling yourself on a large part of your body.

    Which is my same experience with those gel bandannas. They're nice and cool on the outside if you reach up and touch them with your hand, but the heat exchange in the gel is very poor, so all they do is cover yet another part of your body and keep you from cooling yourself. The inside that touches your skin just gets hotter and hotter, and so do I. If sweat isn't evaporating off your bare skin faster than you can sweat, which is pretty much inevitable in humidity much lower than Florida's, then external evaporative cooling won't do a thing for you and will probably make you hotter. On the moto I have had excellent results with one of those thinner evaporative cooling vests, even in Florida, but we're talking about air flow at 45 to 75 mph (under an armored mesh jacket of course). I really don't think it would be any use at bici speed, to the extent that I've never even bothered to try.

    If you have the budget, you might try one of those solid-to-liquid phase change cooling vests, but I have no experience with them and can't comment. I'd look for opinions before buying one, but I personally am willing to spend a lot when it comes to safety. Dizzy and disoriented on two wheels in traffic is to be avoided at all costs.

    Do get your hair wet whenever you have the opportunity. Tousle your hair under running water, or in a sink if you find one clean enough, to get your hair good and soaked. Won't help for long, but it will help a lot.

    Good luck and be careful!
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 08-18-2014 at 04:26 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by BlessedB View Post
    Hello all, and first, thank you for such a great forum!
    I'm getting back in to cycling after about a 20 years hiatus, and oh, how I love it. Been riding now for about 2-3 months.

    However, (and there's always a however), I live in Florida, and it is August. At 9:44am, the bank sign said 86 degrees. An estimate of the humidity would be about equal to the temp. I started this morning at 6:45, just at sunrise. At about mile 27, I stopped for a trail mix and stretch break. At mile 33 or so, I hit the "I can't do this anymore" wall, which was unfortunate as I still had another 7 miles to get home. I stopped into a Dunkin Donuts, got an iced coffee with cream/sugar, and got back on. The last few miles were not pretty, but I made it home - average speed only 11.7mph, which even for my slow self is sad. So with that long intro, my question for you more experienced riders is twofold:
    1. How do you deal with heat and humidity without wilting in the saddle? I've seen some neck cooler cloths out there, any help? Anything you do that makes it more bearable?
    2. How do you deal with hitting the wall? What gets you through?
    Many thanks,
    B
    I live near Savannah, GA. What everyone said. Also, reduce your ride length for now; frequent short rides of 10-15 miles until you acclimate to strenuous outdoor activity in the heat. Cycling uses a lot more energy than other activites. It is necessary to acclimate often, even if you've been off the bike for just a week during the summer.

    Hitting a wall means you are 'bonking,' or in the beginning stages of heat illness(usually heat cramps or heat exhaustion), you can't work through it. You either need to prevent, or stop completely and have someone pick you up, or call a cab.

    I'm going to suggest a bunch of gear that I use to cope with the heat. I work with several cyclists, and we've a long standing fast ride during lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It leaves at 11:00 and goes to about 1220. I don't know what your resources are, but the expense of buying heat-friendly gear has been worth it to me. It took me awhile to accumulate what I need, though. The temperatures are often 95-104 degrees per the reading on my cyclocomputer, which includes outdoor temperature information.

    Make sure you have a very lightweight, ventilated helmet. Higher end Giro's are the coolest I've found. Louis Garneau sleeved jersey's with Craft Arm Coolers make it so I don't have to use sunscreen on my arms or shoulders, which is much cooler. The arm cooler/sleeved jersey combo makes me sweat lesss and lose less water, too. A lightweight, wicking bra is important. (Haven't found one I like enough to share a link, though). A Zoots Ice Dome beanie under my helmet reduces sweat and increases ventilation. Sugoi RS shorts have the best air flow I've found. Ice in the water bottles helps. One bottle has sports drink, the other water with table salt added. (I'm serious!) That way, you have 'plain' water if you need it, but get the electrolytes from both. Make sure you eat something salty before you start, after you've sweated, replenish. If you (like me) eat a healthy diet, chances are your food is very low in sodium, and you need extra to survive the heat and humidity. You could also invest in something like salt stick tabs. Last, my bicycle computer has a temperature reading. This is very important, it's hard to tell when you've had too much until it is too late. If you always keep an eye on the temperature, you can know what temperatures to avoid, and when to stop and take a break before you start exibiting symptoms.

    I have this jersey in blue, unfortunately, they are almost out of sizes, but if you look at the fabric detail, you can see how perforated the fabric is, that is what to look for in a sleeved, humid/sun weather jersey. The LG jerseys were actually designed for South Florida weather.

    These are my favorite arm coolers, they are buttery soft, and don't have silicon grips (which I hate).

    I have 2 of these bolero coolers. Worth getting if you have any sleeveless jerseys.

    Salt Stick.

    I wear this beanie under my helmet on every summer ride.

    These shorts have the most breathable fabric I've found. They do have silicon leg grips, but I just turn them up so they don't touch my skin.

    Inexpensive computer with temperature function by Planet Bike. (Susan, you should really carry this model!). Probably the one item that is the most important.

    Also, are you able to carry enough water to make it to refilling points? I like th CamelBak 25 ounce Podium Bottles. Not only does the water last longer, but carrying more often means you drink more. I make sure I drink at least every 5 minutes.

    If your bike is too small for large bottles, there are other things you can do. A lot of triathlon gear features bottle holders under the seat, and hydration systems on the handlebars. I would avoid hydration packs, they affect your back and form, and are hot. If you do get one, (I did used to use one) look for the type that boasts the most ventilation and cooling properties with it's shape. The descriptions and reviews can give a hint. Also just look for something that appears to be more minimal with the amount of fabric that touches your back. Often, women's models are better than the men's in this regard. Still better to put the system on your bike, though.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 08-18-2014 at 03:04 PM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,829
    Quote Originally Posted by BlessedB View Post
    Hello all, and first, thank you for such a great forum!
    I'm getting back in to cycling after about a 20 years hiatus, and oh, how I love it. Been riding now for about 2-3 months.

    However, (and there's always a however), I live in Florida, and it is August. At 9:44am, the bank sign said 86 degrees. An estimate of the humidity would be about equal to the temp. I started this morning at 6:45, just at sunrise. At about mile 27, I stopped for a trail mix and stretch break. At mile 33 or so, I hit the "I can't do this anymore" wall, which was unfortunate as I still had another 7 miles to get home. I stopped into a Dunkin Donuts, got an iced coffee with cream/sugar, and got back on. The last few miles were not pretty, but I made it home - average speed only 11.7mph, which even for my slow self is sad. So with that long intro, my question for you more experienced riders is twofold:
    1. How do you deal with heat and humidity without wilting in the saddle? I've seen some neck cooler cloths out there, any help? Anything you do that makes it more bearable?
    2. How do you deal with hitting the wall? What gets you through?
    Many thanks,
    B
    Mile 27. At my pace, that takes about two hours of cycling. I would need to have drunk two bottles of water and/or Gatorade and had 400-500 calories of snacks at that point. The snacks would need to be mostly carbs and fast to digest, which for me these days is combination of Gu, Power gel, Jelly Belly sports beans, Nutri-Grain bars and crackers. The Gu, Power gel and sports beans are fastest to digest -- they're designed for that. The Power gel has the most sodium, which makes a big difference for me on a hot day. I usually stop every 1-1.5 hours for a snack. I drink while I'm riding, and will chug at the rest stop if I haven't been drinking as much as I should.

    When the heat becomes too much, I have to stop in the shade and take a break. When it's really bad, I'll stop for a while, take off my helmet and shoes.

    I have DeSoto Cool Wings (wicking bolero) that I wear with a tank top on hot days. Pouring water on it increases the cooling effect. I also like to put ice in zip-top bag and put that in my jersey pocket or inside the jersey on my back. After the ice melts I pour the water on the Cool Wings. The pros make ice sleeves out of sections of pantyhose, so that the water evaporates on you as the ice melts.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    I guess to address your second question, how to handle it when you feel like you can't ...

    #1, be safe. If you're overheated, get your core temperature down as fast as you can. Drinking crushed ice will cool you faster than iced beverages, since you're actually swallowing the ice. Immersion in an ice filled tub if you have access to one, or cold towels all over, or hosing yourself down. If it's not quite to that point, either stop in a shaded spot, or if you're on flat ground without a headwind, sometimes very slow gentle pedaling is actually cooler since you maintain air flow that way without generating more body heat.

    #2, which is what you did, if you're riding a loop you have no choice but to keep going until you're back where you started! Might not be pretty, but you have to keep going.

    #3, accountability. During my marathon training, pretty much every interval workout my coach gave me, I'd look at and be sure I wouldn't be able to do it. Every interval, I'd be sure I couldn't do the next one. Most of the workouts, I did just fine. I knew my coach would see my track and didn't figure there was a point in paying him if I wasn't going to attempt to finish the workouts. You don't need to hire a coach, you can train with a partner or, if you're somewhat motivated but want a little extra oomph, just follow a free training plan. Just, beware of accountability without very specific goals, because that way lies burnout.

    Never forget to have fun!!



    ETA - adding one thing on hydration, several people have mentioned very frequent drinking. I've read that if you just sip, your stomach isn't stimulated to empty as fast, and you'll actually hydrate yourself better if you drink larger amounts less frequently.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 08-18-2014 at 11:23 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    I


    ETA - adding one thing on hydration, several people have mentioned very frequent drinking. I've read that if you just sip, your stomach isn't stimulated to empty as fast, and you'll actually hydrate yourself better if you drink larger amounts less frequently.
    This actually sounds worth double-checking. Source?
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    4,556
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    This actually sounds worth double-checking. Source?
    Here's a source. Interesting....I didn't know that. I struggle with heat too - this thread has some really great tips!
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Blueberry View Post
    Here's a source. Interesting....I didn't know that. I struggle with heat too - this thread has some really great tips!
    I understand drinking a large amount ahead of time, but a large amount at a time while riding doesn't make sense to me, I'd think sips would leave the stomach and enter the rest of the body more quickly than a large amount.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    4,556
    Here is her explanation:

    How we drink can make a difference in how optimally we hydrate our body. A lot of people sip liquids, but gulping is better. Gulps of fluid leave the stomach more rapidly. It’s important to do this. It seems counterintuitive, it seems like gulping would cause a cramp. People are more likely to have stomach cramps sipping because fluid stays in their gut too long.

    When you take more fluid in, gulps as opposed to sips, you have a greater volume of fluid in the stomach. That stimulates the activity of the stretch receptors in the stomach, which then increase intra-gastric pressure and promote faster emptying. This is why gulping is preferred.
    That actually does make sense to me. I would love to see more of a study, though.
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,829
    I'd like definitions of "gulp" and "sip."

    I don't know what I do, but I don't get stomach cramps from drinking.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Blueberry View Post
    Here is her explanation:



    That actually does make sense to me. I would love to see more of a study, though.
    Well, I think my sips from podium bottles are actually 'gulps,' but I agree with NY, a gulp and a sip is like a pinch and a dash. . Or perhaps 'yea high?' I thought you meant more like a cup at a time. I would seriously throw up if I drank too much at once while riding when very hot. (It's already happened).
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    4,556
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    Well, I think my sips from podium bottles are actually 'gulps,' but I agree with NY, a gulp and a sip is like a pinch and a dash. . Or perhaps 'yea high?' I thought you meant more like a cup at a time. I would seriously throw up if I drank too much at once while riding when very hot. (It's already happened).
    Yeah - I agree. I expect mine are too - at least in the summer. I will drink ~1/8 - 1/4 of a bottle at a time in really hot weather. Come on fall!
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Tampa Bay area
    Posts
    27

    Thank you!

    Ladies, y'all are the best!
    Thank you for your thoughtful ideas - you've given me much to ponder and much to do.
    I take two of those big Camelbak bottles of water with me - I thought they were a liter each, but it looks like only 750ml or 25oz each. I was able to fill up once while out, so drank a total of three, plus the iced coffee of course. I will switch at least one to a sports drink, as much as I don't care for the taste. I'll take more snacks as well, and work on my shorter rides. Great idea on getting my head wet - I do this while mowing the lawn. I guess what really threw me was that this was not my first time this summer doing a 40-mile loop - in fact, I'd done it weekly, about 4-5 times, without hitting a wall. Thank y'all again - I so appreciate your generosity of spirit and wisdom!
    Last edited by BlessedB; 08-18-2014 at 05:55 PM.

 

 

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