Riding in the Heat

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I know I’ve posted about how hot it is in Kansas right now, but it is about all that anyone thinks about here right now. I’m not obsessed about it, but I made a decision to try to figure out how to athletically deal with it. And I think I’ve sort of figured it out. At least for now.

I think the key is as much exposure as possible at sub-maximal effort levels. By sub-maximal I mean real easy training. I think that you get enough stress just from the heat exposure that you don’t need to add anything extra to that. Today was hardly 100 degrees when I rode at 6 pm. It makes a huge difference whether the sun is overhead or not. Most of my longer rides I’ve been leaving around noon or so to get the maximum exposure, but 3 days a week, we ride from my house after “normal” folks work, so I tend to wait until then. On the later rides, when it cools into the 90’s, I don’t mind doing a short maximal effort. We usually come in pretty hard for the last few miles, so it works out fine. Recently I’ve not had an issue with the tight diaphragm feeling I normally get when I’m gassed from heat.

Plus, I’ve been working out in the sun during the heat of the day moving concrete, on and off, for the past few days. Luckily Kansas is a pretty windy place always because if there was no wind movement, the job would be unbearable. As it is, I have only a couple hours, at most, before I have to rest and get something to drink.

Talk about drinking, I’m pretty sure you can’t drink enough liquid to stay hydrated when it’s 104 or more. Yesterday I drank around 5 large, thermal bottles of waters, drank a smoothie when I got home, plus a couple chunks of watermelon and I was 5 pounds lighter after 40 miles. And it wasn’t 100 much of the ride. On the hot days, I’m coming back 6-8 pounds light and I’m drinking at least 6 bottles in 60 miles. So, one bottle every half hour isn’t enough obviously. It’s a hassle to stop more (maybe I should take some bottles from the spectators?).

I’ve read you need somewhere are 20 hours in extreme heat to be completely acclimated. That makes sense, something like 2-3 hours for around 10 days seems about right to me. What I meant above about not being obsessed about trying to figure out the heat is just that I really want that arrow in my quiver when it occurs. I think to be a good, all around bike racer, you have to be able to over come all climate issues, whether it’s heat, cold, rain or snow. Extreme conditions are when the tough earn the label.

That is what blows me away about the Schlecks and others that have real weaknesses in their riding abilities. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t want to put in an effort to improve on those weaknesses. Especially if it means the difference between being a just a podium rider and the winner of Grand Tours. They seem to have the mentality that they’ll just try to climb better, work on their strengths, and hope that gets them by. That seems silly and lazy to me. It’s always easier working on something that you are good at than try to get better at something you suck at.

Anyway, I think I’m going to ride over to Lawrence at noon on my MTB bike. It’s a little longer and mostly on gravel, but there is some shade. I’m going to try to finish up the driveway before then, so I should be pretty good and tired by the time I’m riding. It’s just weight training, with heat I guess. Seems to drain you more though, not that I ever do any weight training.

Here are some photos from the last few days.

I was surprised that Topeka has a water park on the East side.

I saw this guy in Lawrence the other day. I have no idea how he is even moving around. I think he must be very ill.

Self portrait of my skinny little calve to compare.

I saw this guy ride up to Starbucks the other day. Check his legs out. He is white and that is dirt. He is must be really, really hot.

Sunday after the ride, Kelly, Catherine, and Kent, all look pretty hot. I’m not sure why we weren’t inside in the air conditioning. I guess after the ride, heat training or something.

I kind of jacked up my back loading these bags of concrete into my van. I kind of hate the 80 lb bags, I much prefer the 60 lb ones.

A little hot and beat. Kind of missed the shade of the morning.

I can’t not include a photo of The Dude, Kent and Kelly’s dog. He is just one year old and is very much a cutie.

I was wetting the new concrete and Trudi wanted a little misting.

12 thoughts on “Riding in the Heat

  1. Jim B

    Thanks for posting this. IT’s hot here in Ohio, too. I have been trying to tell my friends that we need to back off a little due to the stress from the heat. You said it really well and I just directed them to your post.

    thanks, Jim

  2. Fergie

    as far as Andy Schleck not addressing TT issues-You could elect NOT to work on weakness and bank on a clenbuterol positive to get on thetop step. 🙂

    ..seriously..not to comment on the Contador case,but I have a problem ever thinking of Schleck as the winner of the ’10 tour reguardless .

  3. john

    I have an endurance rider friend who went out for a 200 miler and drank a total of 3 1/2 gallons of liquids and when he got home he was 10 lbs. light. That’s nearly 40 lbs. of something … in a day of riding.

  4. Mark

    You’ll be out there shoveling that driveway in 20 below windchill before you know it…if that is anything to look forward to.

  5. Jeff

    That picture of you sitting on the concrete is the best. You should be holding a beat up old guitar. What’s that J. Cash song? “I’ve been everywhere man.”
    One of my favorite parts of the day, checking in to see what you’re up to.

  6. Bryan

    I don’t buy the “8 oz of cold fluid every 20 minutes” thought. I routinely ride in the hottest part of the day and it is nothing for me to down both my bottles – 56 oz – and have to stop for more, and yet still be able to down two to three big cups of fluid once I get home. Even then, it’s usually at least an hour before I have to head to the bathroom.

    Perhaps a non-dehydrated body will try to shed excess water, but a dehydrated one? Not so sure there.

  7. Wildcat


    I’ve been checking back and waiting to see if anyone would comment back about my post.

    I think your reasoning is solid – That it depends on the individuals’ state of hydration. Sitting here in my office I buy the 8oz/20min deal, but when I get back from a long hot ride it takes me hours to go from peeing apple juice to peeing lemonade.

  8. jg

    I believe the notion is that your body won’t absorb it that quickly, so it simply sits in your stomach.


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