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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-23-06, 12:20 PM   #1
BayBruin
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Cycling in Extreme Heat...Where to Draw the Line?

I commuted 4 days last week and the final day (Friday) was a real scorcher (100+). Unfortunately next week is also supposed to be very hot. Is it dangerous to commute by bike in high heat? Do people on here have a cut off....commute by bike when it's under 100 but find an alternative when temps get above 100? I felt ok last week. I drank a lot of fluids at work and drank a large glass of water before leaving and drained my one water bottle (need to add a second) by the time I made it home (15 miles one way). But I'm overweight, 40 years old, and have a couple of small kids to worry about. Am I just being pig headed by commutting every day in this heat or is it safe if precautions are taken? Are there warning signs when you are over heating on your bike when you should just shut it down and get someone to pick you up?

Thanks for your advise....and WHEN ARE THE NEW 2007 TREKS AND SPECIALIZED BIKES GOING TO BE OUT!?!?!?!?! I want my new bike....
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Old 07-23-06, 12:35 PM   #2
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Can I suggest a Camelbak or similar product? A 70-ounce/2-liter model is nice, that's more water than two of the biggest bottles you can buy. And you can still supplement that with your existing waterbottle.

One advantage is that water in a Camelbak changes temperature very slowly compared to water in a waterbottle, so after you get past the first hot bit of water in the hose, you get nice cool water from the reservoir (or even ice-cold, if you add ice).

For a 15-mile trip in 100°F+ weather, consuming even two large waterbottles might not be enough water. You should probably ask your doctor what warning signs to watch for. I'd just try to mosey along casually and make it a goal to drink frequently. Avoid any bursts of effort if possible. If you see a stoplight that you think is going to change red if you don't speed up, then slow down and let it force you to take a little rest break
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Old 07-23-06, 12:52 PM   #3
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I work in the heat. Our cut off is a Heat Index of 125 degrees or above. Up to around 100 we just keep on working as normal but keep an eye on everybody, from 100-110 we mandate short water and shade breaks every 45 minutes, 110-125 we mandate breaks every 20-30 minutes. That being said, riding a bike slowly in 100 degree temps would be fine as long as you stay hydrated and take it easy. Get to feeling too warm, pull over in some shade. I don't reccomend heading into an aircondtioned facility, I think that makes it that much harder on the body. FWIW when I lived with out A/C I was able to tolerate heat much better. I am currently 46 years old, and still acclimated to the heat. I like the idea of the camelback. In higher heat/humidty condtions I will wear one at work.

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Old 07-23-06, 01:21 PM   #4
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Coming from an overweight 41 year old, we haven't had any 100 degree+ temps yet here, but I did ride home one day last week when it was 98 degrees, plus a headwind. Very frustrating. It really wiped me out, plus I ran out of water halfway home. I didn't want to inconvenience anyone, so I plugged away. I probably won't do that again - I was so wiped out the rest of the night I couldn't do anything (I'm a student taking a very intensive course right now, so if I don't keep up with things my grade suffers - not good).

I don't know about you, but I'm not commuting to prove anything. I do it because I enjoy riding my bike and it is helping me get in shape. Getting a ride home is probably a good idea if it is too hot and you are uncomfortable. I guess knowing when you reach that point is the hard part.
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Old 07-23-06, 02:59 PM   #5
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The only thing I can warn anyone about is a mild heat stroke. Not the kind where your whole body is saturated, but the kind where your brain is being fried.

I've had this since I was a kid and forget about it all too often. This comes on when your skull gets to much direct sunlight and begins to heat up the brain fluid. Symptoms set on suddenly and can be very dangerous. Symptoms include nausia and a touch of virtigo. Simply wearing a helmet or a cap will go a long way to prevent this.

Recovery from this condition is water, shade and putting your head down. Throwing up may sound like a good idea at the time but not recommended (personal experience, not medical!). If you can, cooling down in a fountain or a hose will get your spinal fluid temp down faster but this is not always practicle when the symptoms have already set in. You need to stop and take care of the problem immediately when symptoms are appearant.

Some people are more prone to this than others, so this is friendly advice to anyone who may be experiencing the symptoms.
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Old 07-23-06, 03:19 PM   #6
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Everyone reacts slightly different. Some are better than others at riding in the heat. If you have not been
doing this ride so much it seems easy, be very careful. Ride slower, that is a huge help. Stop in the shade if you need to. What I do is coast in the shade it's even cooler. Do see the doctor for his advice, we don't know much about you. Look for a route with as much shade as possible.

If you are getting tired don't keep going to get it over with, rest in a cool place. If one rides in the heat long enough and far enough you can adjust to it quite a bit. But one still needs to be aware of potential problems and the first symptoms.
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Old 07-23-06, 03:22 PM   #7
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here in Phoenix it is getting up to 115 now in the afternoons. the camelbak is a good Idea, I need to get one. otherwise, stay hydrated, drink a bunch of water before you leave work, and go slow. just creep along, don't try to push yourself.
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Old 07-23-06, 04:31 PM   #8
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Fifteen miles in 100 deg temperature is quite doable with little risk. The main thing is to have plenty of water. One bottle is probably not going to be sufficient. Either get a second bottle, or stop half way and refill the one you have. A CamelBak is an excellent alternative. I assume you are changing into appropriate clothes for the ride.

Since you are apparently not used to riding in extreme temperatures, you should look up the symptoms and prevention of heat exhaustion/heat stroke.
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Old 07-23-06, 05:45 PM   #9
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I have a Camelback but I switched back to bottles because the Camelback is hot on my back and I sweat pretty fierce under it. I have a 70 ounce resevoir on it, so maybe I'll bring it out of retirement on the really hot rides to maximize my hydration. I agree that the water stays a LOT cooler with the Camelback....the water bottles...even the insulated ones...get warm pretty quick.

Last Friday two things were pretty obvious...one was that I pretty much had the bike lane to myself...very few commuters out, and two...I could really feel the heat coming off the pavement. Fortunately I do have a good amount of shade on my route and you can always generate some head wind to create some cooling.

I'll keep cycling away. Thanks for the advise.
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Old 07-23-06, 05:50 PM   #10
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One more thing. I got heat exhaustion when I did the Aidsride 5 years ago before my first son was born. It was extremely hot out on the road and I was blowing through my camelback reserves really quick. Came in for the lunch pit stop and couldn't seem to cool down (it was 110 in the shade). I felt kind of strange and my heart rate wasn't slowing down. I used the entire pit period before going back to my bike. I walked by the medical tent and I saw a bunch of riders with ice bags on their necks....looked like heaven. I asked for one and they said OK but wanted to check my vitals first. They asked how long I had been off the bike and when I said an hour 20 they told me I was done. My 'resting' heart rate was well over 100 BPMs. I didn't know I was in real trouble...but I was. If I hadn't stopped in for that creature comfort (ice pack) I probably would have collapsed on the road.
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Old 07-23-06, 06:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayBruin
I commuted 4 days last week and the final day (Friday) was a real scorcher (100+). Unfortunately next week is also supposed to be very hot. Is it dangerous to commute by bike in high heat? Do people on here have a cut off....commute by bike when it's under 100 but find an alternative when temps get above 100? I felt ok last week. I drank a lot of fluids at work and drank a large glass of water before leaving and drained my one water bottle (need to add a second) by the time I made it home (15 miles one way). But I'm overweight, 40 years old, and have a couple of small kids to worry about. Am I just being pig headed by commutting every day in this heat or is it safe if precautions are taken? Are there warning signs when you are over heating on your bike when you should just shut it down and get someone to pick you up?

Thanks for your advise....and WHEN ARE THE NEW 2007 TREKS AND SPECIALIZED BIKES GOING TO BE OUT!?!?!?!?! I want my new bike....

Here's my favorite page on hot weather cycling.

Now that it's hot, try packing a 2 liter bottle of water. Start drinking about 15-20 minutes before you start pedaling. Don't worry about your speed, coast when possible. 100 degrees is no where near overheating. Safe commuting can be done at far higher temperatures.
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Old 07-23-06, 11:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artkansas
Here's my favorite page on hot weather cycling.
Cute article. 9 miles 150ft glide at 120deg f... and hydration. Indeed do-able but brutal. Note the warning if you need to stop for any length of time (like flats or other mechanical booboo's)

The law requires that public hot tubs remain at or below 104 degrees F. Above this, people may explode... J/K ...get seriously ill.

So with sweat, the breeze of riding, shade, and hydration, your body can tolerate a lot as long as your core temperature is maintained to that 104 degree max limit. I think the key is having the moisture within you to sweat out. I am one of those that starts hydration way to late to keep things flowing.
Then again, I sit in a sprinkler when the heat reaches triple digits
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Old 07-24-06, 07:34 AM   #13
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One nice thing about the camel back I remember from when I used one is this: I did a mtn bike clinic at Hardwood Hills one summer - we rode about 40ish km of single track that day. It was 38 degrees Celcius, with a humidex of about 48 or so. Very hot and sticky. So, I emptied the camel back (was a low profile one, with a 50 oz bladder and an insulated pack) 5 times that day - 250oz of water. I did not dehydrate or feel wobbly the whole day. The neat part is, the water stayed cold, and so did my back... the cold from the water slowly seeped into my back and felt wonderful.
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Old 07-24-06, 08:28 AM   #14
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I don't believe that any heat denver has can stop me from riding. The highest I have ridden in was 105F last summer. As it hits the high 90s I start slowing down and consuming more water. That is about it.
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Old 07-24-06, 08:33 AM   #15
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Other outdoor activities are much harder on one. For example, I worked for two hours this weekend on some tall grass with a balky lawnmower that stopped every 30 seconds or so and had to be unclogged each time. I was totally exhausted. By copmparison, a five mile commute in similar temperatures (90+ F) is easy and fun.

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Old 07-24-06, 09:48 AM   #16
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The constant refrain here seems to be "drink water." Drinking throughout the day is better than guzzling on the road. Filling your stomach doesn't help you sweat and makes it hard to breath.

However you prepare, always have a fall back. Most often this means taking a cell phone with one or more contacts to call if you need someone to come pick you up if the heat becomes too much.

Speaking of cell phones, I've heard that in some areas emergency responders check cell phones for emergency contacts when victims are unconcious. Emergency contacts should have the acronym ICE ("In Case of Emergency") in their entry on the phone. That way EMT's won't waste time notifying your hairdresser, LBS, co-worker from six months ago, etc. that you have had an emergency. That's a good thing regardless of the weather.
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Old 07-24-06, 10:04 AM   #17
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i too ride in Denver, and there is nothing here to stop me either at 43 and also over on the scale. I use a camel back clone and fill the bladder w/ ice at work before I leave. Even if I take the long way home (15 miles, some 15 minute hills on my hybrid) I still get home w/ ice in the bag. Another trick I learned from my son in the MArines is to wear Under Armor skin tight Tee's. Instant cooling as you sweat, you don't have to soak a shirt before it cools you....
And like everyone else said: "Take it easy"

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Old 07-24-06, 10:59 AM   #18
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Water, water, water. I did construction work in Florida for 12 years and the key is to pace yourself and drink enough water. I don't really have a cutoff for riding in the heat, I kind of enjoy it. To me it's much worse to ride in the cold! I hate those 50 degree days in winter!
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Old 07-24-06, 02:34 PM   #19
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114 degrees has been doable so far. I don't think it can get any hotter here. Stay hydrated and allow enough time to cruise to your destination instead of hammering. Don't forget to listen to your body, it knows your limits better than a bunch of people on the internet.
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Old 07-24-06, 04:09 PM   #20
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To add to the water thing. Should you pass a park with a drinking fountain, there are few things in this world that feel better on a 110+ day than a jersey soaked in the drinking fountain and put on again. Here in Phoenix you will have about 10 minutes of nice cool riding before you are bone dry again on days like that but 10 minutes of air conditioning can do a lot to reset your mental heat tolerance.
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Old 07-24-06, 04:31 PM   #21
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I am just getting over heat exhaustion. From only about 92 with a small 5 mile climb. Thought I was properly hydrated.
Today a club member suggested I mash smaller gears and work less as one possible solution.
As to heat. Under 95 with a chilled Camelbak. Over 95, doubt I commute on a bike unless it was maybe under 5 miles' distance. Then maybe.
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Old 07-24-06, 05:46 PM   #22
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Man, this desert heat and humidity is nothing.
The air is extremely sticky, it's 110 in the shade and I'm just hammering along my six mile way route.
Of course by the time I get to my work-place, I look like a human steam locomotive.
Another thing I've noticed is that I don't even feel that tired after sweating for about two-three hours.
It's after that I begin to feel a little nauseated, then I'll start gulping the larger amounts as opposed to the sips I always do.
But, weather-wise, I'll ride anyday in this heat, as opposed to 50 and lower degree chills.
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Old 07-24-06, 07:07 PM   #23
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When the pavement melts and my tires sink in too far to roll properly.

Last edited by bhchdh; 07-25-06 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 07-24-06, 07:47 PM   #24
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I think that there is a cut off at some degree. I commuted a few days back in extremely hot and humid weather. The 15 mile commute itself was actually ok but I could feel the exhaustion of the ride while I was at work. I think I would have been ok if I was working a desk job, but I am on my feet all day helping people (I hate retail sales). I don't think I have ever slept as hard as I did when I got home that night.
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Old 07-24-06, 08:25 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geog_dash
The constant refrain here seems to be "drink water." Drinking throughout the day is better than guzzling on the road. Filling your stomach doesn't help you sweat and makes it hard to breath.

However you prepare, always have a fall back. Most often this means taking a cell phone with one or more contacts to call if you need someone to come pick you up if the heat becomes too much.

Speaking of cell phones, I've heard that in some areas emergency responders check cell phones for emergency contacts when victims are unconcious. Emergency contacts should have the acronym ICE ("In Case of Emergency") in their entry on the phone. That way EMT's won't waste time notifying your hairdresser, LBS, co-worker from six months ago, etc. that you have had an emergency. That's a good thing regardless of the weather.

I have been a Paramedic for 10 years and have never used a cell to notify anyone's family of anything. However, it may be nice for the Hospital...but then, they usually look for the entry labeled "Mom" or "Dad"
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