Kind of Destroyed by Heat

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Yesterday was a record high for June 22 in Topeka.  The actual temperature got to 103 at around 3 pm.  I was 75% done with riding at that point.  Actually, I was 100% done with riding by then, but I still had 15 miles to get home.

I stuck to my plan and rode on gravel the 30 something miles over to Lawrence.  My Garmin was usually hovering right around 100 early, but on the way back it was 104 or so.  It seems to be pretty close to spot on, even in the direct sunlight.

I thought I was doing pretty well most of the ride.  It was pretty windy, like around 25 mph, but I wasn’t trying to set any speed records.  And I wasn’t.  I got to Lawrence on just one large bottle, drank a couple more, plus a 32 oz Gatorade, bought a pickle in a bag, and headed back.

Coming back was the problem.  I was pretty good the first half, then sort of started falling apart. Anytime I tried to climb off my seat, I was completely gassed.  My heart rate was pegged the whole time.

That is what is weird.  The heart rate.  I don’t understand why my heart rate was so high, when I was producing no power.  I guess it is that my body is using a ton of energy producing sweat or pumping blood to the skin, so it doesn’t have any exact volume to pump blood to my leg muscles.

Whatever the reason, it was demoralizing.  I looked at Strava, and there is a segment coming back into Topeka.  We ride it all the time.  I have the KOM at something like nearly 30 miles per hour for nearly 5 miles.  8:40 is the time, 350 watt average.  And that had to have ridden with a group, drafting some.

Yesterday I rode the same stretch in over 17 minutes.  15 mph average at 142 watts.  So that is over 200 watts less.  The weird thing is my heart rate is about the same.  Over 160 bpm the whole time.  And I was feeling way worse.

142 watts is nothing.  Like hardly pedalling.  It felt like I was going pretty hard.

Anyway, I got back and only had a few minutes to head over to a radio interview across town.  I counted and I had drunk 8 big bottles on the ride and was nearly 10 pounds light.  It is impossible to consume enough liquid at those temperatures.   I sort of had a stomach ache the rest of the night.

I couldn’t get to sleep last night, so I got up and ate 1/2 a watermelon at 2 am.  Tucker didn’t know what was going on.   Plus I drank all the juice out of a pickle jar.  That only lasted until about 6 am, because that is when my left hamstring cramped.  I hate that.  Nothing like waking up with a muscle seized.

Anyway, this whole subject interests me.  The whole sweating/heat subject is pretty complex I think.

I was talking to my dentist from Winona and he told me that he sweats a ton.  And that his whole life, his sweat burns his eyes badly.  Like even an hour after exercising, his eyes could still be burning from the effects of his sweat.  Then about 5 weeks ago, something changed and his sweat doesn’t burn his eyes at all.  He says that he didn’t change his diet at all and can’t pinpoint anything that he is doing differently.  He thinks his kidneys have just readjusted their calibration or something, and his sweat isn’t so salty.

I’m thinking not.  I’m thinking he has changed something, but doesn’t realize it.  I’m guessing this is going to be short-lived and that it will eventually get back to “normal”.

Anyway, summer has just started, so I’m sure I’ll have a lot more observations later.  It is interesting to me, as I age, I have to tweak the formula over and over, trying to figure out what works.  Keeps me on my toes I guess.

It was pretty hot the whole ride.

It was pretty hot the whole ride.

Mid ride refreshments.

Mid ride refreshments.

Lots of wheat harvesting going on. Guess the combines are air conditioned.

Lots of wheat harvesting going on. Guess the combines are air conditioned.  This guy must of needed a lot of straw.

Tucker is happy being back with some cats.

Tucker is happy being back with some cats.

23 thoughts on “Kind of Destroyed by Heat

  1. Joe C

    Succeed S!Caps fixed my cramping problems. And I’m jealous that your Garmin reads right; mine is always 10-15 degrees high in direct sunlight.

  2. Craig

    One of the sad facts about human physiology is that we can only absorb a little over a liter an hour of fluid in our digestive system. So if you drink more than you can absorb it just starts working its way down leading to stomach cramps and a general shutdown of the process. Given that I can lose 7-9lbs an hour in brutal conditions truly limits what I can do at high output. This is one of the big reasons why we tend to slow down in the heat … body survival.

    You kind of nailed it Steve – your heart rate was so high because you body was doing all it could to just stay alive and any time you pushed beyond that it just cratered. Plus you have been exhibiting over-training symptoms lately so this didn’t help! On the flip side, you will probably be better off for it in the coming weeks.

  3. mks

    You were dehydrated. Pure and simple. Your negative balance on your weight despite your fluid intake proves that. Heart rate is trying to compensate by “moving the boxcars of oxygen” around faster.

  4. Biff Bradford

    A very experienced runner (I believe) just died in AZ from heat exhaustion. Be careful !

  5. Dave King

    Steve – you are correct. Heat load ->> shunting of blood from GI tract and muscles to peripheral vasculature to cool the core ->> increased HR to cope with the vascular load despite no change in workload. Plasma volume loss from sweating does not help.

    Some research out there showing that once core temperature rises too high in exercise in heat, it becomes difficult to return core temperature to normal and for performance not too decline or recover to it’s previous level. Which is why cold fluids with electrolyte and simple carbohydrates helps keep your core cooler and has better absorption than regular old water and cooling effect, including water poured over the skin.

    Fortunately, your body adapts pretty quickly to heat stimulus in training with increased plasma volume, faster and increased sweating response and peripheral vascular shunting, etc.

  6. Lumpy

    Here is a good read. I would be astounded if you were not aware of this.
    Call up Dr Allen Lim. Yes he was associated with Floyd, But he is as smart as they come. If hasn’t thought about it he can give you a logical explanation.

    They stinging eye thing can be pollen washing off your forehead into your eyes. For me it is Fall/ragweed. Your buddy may just have a mild irritation / allergic reaction. I flush my eyes out with a neutral eye wash at the end of the ride and solves the problem.
    One of typical group ride guys has his watch or garmin beep every 10 minutes. Drink.
    You may have been able to get further into the ride before your power dropped if you made a conscious effort to drink from the moment you got on the bike.
    Pickle in a bag… Please tell me that’s not used as an IV.

  7. Krakatoa East of Java

    Not sure if this is the same case or not: Sunday, we (unfortunately) had a very fit 28 Y/O female personal trainer / runner / mountain biker die of extreme heat exhaustion while out on the MTB trail. Actually, she “died” later in the day at the hospital. She was with two riding companions who happened to be physicians, and she collapsed just a mile from the parking lot. She’d stopped breathing and they administered CPR and got her breathing again. One eof them high-tailed it back to the car and got their medical gear and started working on her right away. She was airlifted off the mountain to a waiting ambulance. When she arrived at the hospital, her temperature was so high, it was off the scale. That means 106+. They tried everything to get her core temp down, but she ultimately passed. She was really damn sick.

    Now, looking back, let’s look at the facts:

    We were warned that this was going to be not just our record high for that date, but our all-time record high – ever, (and we’re talking Phoenix)! The fire dept. was called at 9AM, and they’d started their MTB ride at 6AM. Right off the bat, there’s a problem. Here in Phoenix, at 6AM, the sun has been up for over an hour. At this time of the year, you need to get an earlier start. Period. And a hilly three-hour MTB ride on the hottest day EVER? I have a problem with two physicians (even fit ones) thinking that their plan was a good one. They should have started their ride earlier, and ridden for much less time (and less intense). The predicted temp for the day was 118 degrees (and the weather delivered). We lost four people to heat related illness in that 24-hour period. All of them either hikers or cyclists.

    The biggest problem I see is that people are not being respectful enough of… not so much the heat itself… but in how our bodies react to big differences in high temperatures from one day to the next. This was at least a ten degree difference on the baseline. I think it was about 105 the day before, and I remember it feeling damn hot that day too.

    I also think that to some degree, the body is really under a massive amount of heat stress when exercising in very hot weather, and sometimes it just can’t go on. Just because we often can handle the heat, it doesn’t mean that we’re “acclimated” in any meaningful way. On really hot days you’ve GOT to pre-hydrate (a lot), take it easier, and do less than you’d normally do. If you don’t properly respect the heat, you could very well die.

  8. Krakatoa East of Java

    Tons of tv station “dis-information” on this one. The originally reported the location as somewhere near I-17 and Jomax, but the footage clearly shows the Phoenix Mountain Preserve area (which makes a lot more sense)

  9. numbnuts

    probably has to do with the
    and the behaviour of liver, pancreas, muscles, glands etc… complex reactions.
    As the body tries to reach a balance in the system, but it is in constant contention with the heat and propulsion of the body, thus consuming energy just trying to keep the body cool…

    Good thing you didn’t drink something that was highly acidic like OJ… did that before and barfed up a storm after a long hot ride…

  10. Krakatoa East of Java

    Extreme heat opens up a cavalcade of additional variables – ones we have virtually no control over. Best to go into these situations with a conservative approach. “Going for it” can go very badly.

  11. mike crum

    getting old sucks… reading your blog a few years now, , you are having more and more funk days like this….manymore to come. aging sucks… plus you’re not the smartest athlete either. as soon as you got home you rushed out to an interview… smart athletes would have done a short ride and rested after the ride,not rushed… your own fault.. you bring a ton of this onto yourself… pretty funy reading some of your problems……. that can be avoided..

  12. sillypuddy

    I agree. Has the thought ever crossed your mind to plan alittle bit. Not to mention u need a serious rest. Maybe take this time to rebuild and be ready to race on Labor Day Weekend. And leave Tucker at home.
    ThATS the facts
    Time for a Nati-Lite
    Sillypuddy OUT!

  13. Tman

    Some folks just LOVE to troll you Steve. AKA the usual suspects. I imagine they are sitting by the keyboard in their sisters stolen panties as they type. The heat first killed me nearly 20 years ago at the 24 Hours of Afton Alps. I got there first and set up our teams camp. Only thing that brought me back was salty Safeway brand energy drink and SALTY Knorr potato leek soup. Couple big mugs of soup at 1am saved my ass. Look at what the Tour Divide folks, Trans Am racers and even what Stamstead consumed 25 years ago in endeavors like this. Lots of junk full of salt and calories.

  14. Scott Dickson

    I often ate a lot of watermelon before 100 mile rides while living in Kansas 2000-05. It really saved the day.

  15. sillypuddy

    First of all, they’re my grandma panties . secondly glad its not her Depends. Now Tman I like your ideas on taking something more like a meal replacement on longer rides. I use ice cold slimfast, four cans in two tall waterbottles. Depending on the temperature, topography, and intensity. Of your workout, you can add table suger and/or salt as needed. This works great. Now, if you will excuse me I need to go change my panties and pop a Nati-Lite.
    Sillypuddy OUT!

  16. Tomcat

    Every body else commented, here’s mine.
    Early warning signs of heat stroke.
    It would be interesting to know what your internal temperature was after that ride.

  17. DR

    I live in KC and I do 6+ hour endurance events so we get the same weather. I always get a sign right before I get too hot. A chill when it’s 100 degrees, beads of sweat on the arms when they have been dry all day or a nauseous/qweezy feeling all tell ne I’m about to be in trouble. I throttle back on the effort, get fluids and sit in the shade for a bit. If you follow the warning signs you can keep it from getting too bad. If you let it get too bad you won’t be able to pedal the bike at all, I have been there.


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