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Cycling in very hot weather

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Bigtallfatbloke, 25 Sep 2007.

  1. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    Ok...this is all about next summers tour...but I was wondering what tips you chaps and kind ladies might be able to offer about riding in extremely hot weather...like in provence at the height of summer for example...Ok so i suppose drinking lot's is th enumber one thing but what have your experiences been?
     
  2. redfox

    redfox New Member

    Location:
    Bourne End, UK
    Drink lots, wear plenty of high factor sun cream and a peaked cap and be prepared to go a lot slower than usual.
     
  3. Stwutter

    Stwutter New Member

    Well, the drinking lots is the obvious one. In hot weather a 500ml-1L an hour is the norm, although it depends on your metabolism/weight etc...

    I'm sure others will be able to give more thorough advice, but it's definately worth investing in a sports drink with electrolytes (usually a powder that you mix with water), as the salt you lose in the heat can be a killer, and needs replacing. I've seen a couple of pro's at the end of hot, long stages with a white crust around their gobs!

    If it wasn't salt, it would be seriously suspicious...
     
  4. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    Amongst other things:

    1. Get an early start. If you can be on the road by 7.30, you will have got somewhere by noon. Then you can relax, hang out, eat, drink and people watch. If necessary you can get back on the road by 3 for another couple of hours. Seven and a half riding hours a day is enough on any tour!

    2. Even though it's hot, you still need to eat, even though your appetite might be suppressed.

    3. Some people do need mineral supplements when sweating a lot. I've used a small pinch of salt in a 50:50 dilution of Coke and water to good effect, and can be replenished anywhere.

    4. Protect the back of you neck and head with a bandana or hat, but don't neglect the sunscreen on the shady areas either. Limestone chipping roads can reflect a lot of light back up at you.

    5. Wash your shorts or liners every day. Consider getting changed at the three hour lunch spot and let the shorts dry out. If you can't wash them, leaving the pad exposed to the full sun during the midday stop will kill a lot of bugs. And fleas.

    6. Monitor your piss. If the volume is less than normal or the colour anything darker than pale straw you need to up your water intake.

    7. Monitor your mates. Know the difference between heat exhaustion (sweating, hot and dizzy) with heat stroke (dry skin, red hot, diminishing consciousness and imminent death). If in any doubt stop, get into some shade and drink.

    8. Problems can accumulate. If you had a hard day and suffered a bit, be extra vigilant the next day. If you didn't get dehydrated at the end of the previous day you will already be in deficit when you start the next.

    9. Don't be suckered by the difference between dry and humid heat. The body reacts the same way by sweating. The dry heat feels more comfortable because the sweat evaporates and you feel slightly cooler, but you are still loosing fluids at the same rate. However because you can appear not to be 'sweating', people often underestimate the amount they need to drink.

    10. Don't run out of water. Try and plan ahead how much drink you will need between shops /cafes / fountains along your route (remember long shop closing times at lunch). If you think it's going to be more than one and a half to two hours, then you will need to carry more than just two regular bike bottles. Platypus do very light, screw top water containers that are also good around camp and allow you to take more water with you if needs be.

    Don't underestimate the risks, but don't be too intimidated either. Start the trip slowly and build up. I love the heat.
     
  5. bof

    bof Senior member. Oi! Less of the senior please

    Location:
    The world
    Good advice from Tim Bennett. To add:

    If you're getting parched, don't be shy about knocking on someone's front door.

    Take salt tablets in case you cramp and some water purifying tablets in case you have to fall back on a dodgy source.

    Dont be worried about downing some salty food for lunch, with lots of water.

    Use short sleeved cycling shirts with the pockets at the back as you can fit several little bottles of mineral water in to them if you need to go a long way without.

    Think about getting cycle sandals.

    If you're going somewhere humid, you're likely to chafe.
     
  6. mr_hippo

    mr_hippo Living Legend & Old Fart

    Ride early in the day, nice long lunch but go easy on the alcohol and a few miles in the cool of the evening.
    Sandals - good idea but wear either socks or put plenty of sun cream on your feet including between the toes.
    For the first few days, take it easy and get acclimatised.

    Being in Thailand, I miss the nice long summer's evenings but 'tis a small price to pay!
     
  7. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    This is damn fine advice! I shall print it and take it to India, thanks for everyone's wisdom!
     
  8. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    Don't forget the obvious one of trying to acclimatise in advance by doing as much cycling in warm weather as you can.

    When I did my first 200 km ride it was on a hot day and despite drinking lots of water I managed to cramp up badly after about 150 km. Luckily I ground to a painful halt more or less outside an Italian restaurant. Deciding that that was the end of the day's efforts I had spaghetti with mixed sea food and to my surprise was able within half an hour to cycle again without any problems. I can only surmise that the food had replaced everything the absence of which had been causing cramp.

    I've heard tell that a simpler way to avoid cramp is to take magnesium based salts to put in your drinking water. There's bound to be somebody here who knows the real version of this.
     
  9. mr_hippo

    mr_hippo Living Legend & Old Fart

    Quick tip if you are suffering from the 5h1ts you need after the attack Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), I know you you can buy packets of ORS but it's cheaper to get a can of 7-Up/Sprite, let it go flat and mix in half a teaspoon of salt; it works!
    Oh and if you wear specs, take a spare pair with you and some good clip-ons.
     
  10. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Location:
    Limoges or York
    In France I top up my bottle whenever I see a 'l'eau potable' tap. If none appears, I am not above nipping into the first camp site I arrive at and grabbing a bit there. No-one has minded so far..

    When there's plenty available, as well as just drinking it, I tip it over me - it's a lovely feeling cycling along at 30C+ as it evaporates.
     
  11. vernon

    vernon Harder than Ronnie Pickering

    Location:
    Meanwood, Leeds
    extremely hot weather...like in Provence at the hieght of summer...

    Hah! It never got higher than 85F when I cycled through Provence this August for which I was eternally greatful. I'd endured a week of 110-116F in Rodes ten days earlier so the 85F was a blessed relief.

    I took extended lunch breaks while in Provence and the Carmargue at sometime sought the coolness offered by bus shelters where I ate my lunch of baguette, cheese, (sometimes some pate, sometimes ham), tomatoes, fruit and a generous slug of the table wine selling at €2 per 1.5 litres. A half hour kip and I'd wake up refreshed, energy levels restored and trundle on.

    If you are cycling through the Rhone/Saone gap you don't really have to worry about hills, there's next to none.

    Always drink lots of water. If you can't find a tap, it's cheap enough in the supermarkets but I found that free refills were readily available at bars and brasseries.

    Oh and stay away from as many degustation caves as possible if you want to maintain forward progress :-)
     
  12. videoman

    videoman Über Member

    All the above are very valid points as it has dropped to around thirty degrees here in the day. Lots of water, protection from the sun and early morning starts are important, thats why I will be out at 7.30am for a couple of hours tomorrow.
     
  13. friedel

    friedel New Member

    Location:
    On our bikes!
    Be smart enough to realise that it is hot weather and adjust your expectations accordingly. Don't be silly like we were and wonder why you can't pull your usual long days. Hummmm... could it be because it is 40C??? xx(

    All the advice so far is good. Drink lots, start early, end late, rest heaps in between.

    Also, use public water taps in town centres and cemeteries to wet your t-shirt. Instant air conditioning for a few minutes! A wet bandana around the head or slipped just under the eyes is nice too.
     
  14. andrew_s

    andrew_s Veteran

    Location:
    Gloucester
    Pay close attention to where there is water available even if you don't immediately need it. It gets you used to where to look for when you do.
    Many if not most villages will have a public water tap/fountain. Any bar will sell 1.5l bottles, there are often vending machines outside even if the shop/bar/garage isn't open. In mountainous areas there are often small roadside springs - I've never had any problem using the ones that have been set up as such (pipe cemented in, bars below for resting water container on).

    Refill both your bottles at every available fountain, even if still half full. Empty them out, drink from the fountain, and refill before setting off again. Water that's been baking in an unused plastic bottle for a couple of hours can taste foul.

    Dunking your shirt & hat in a river provides welcome relief for the 15mins or so that it takes to dry off. Don't forget to empty pockets before dunking.

    Early starts are important - don't rely on it cooling off in the afternoon soon enough to be useful for much extra cycling. I've known it to be still over 30 at 1 am.

    If you have a mountain pass to do, try and arrange your overnight stops so that you stay at the base of the climb and can do it first thing in the morning whilst it's still relatively cool.
     
  15. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    Having tried and failed to ride Mt. Ventoux at about 1 o/c in the afternoon when it was 100F in Bedoin, no breeze, and I'm wearing black....I can only tell you what not to do!
    Tim's list is excellent.

    My own observations:
    Get some light coloured cycle-tops with long zips.
    The Hedy/Buff worn French Foreign Legion style under the helmet to protect the neck is good.
    Good electrolyte sport drink and keep sipping.
    2 pairs of mitts, one to wear, one drying.
    Ride early morn or later in the afternoon, chill for the midday hours

    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE EFFECT OF HEAT!!!!!! It really can do you in very quickly.