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Old 05-30-11, 06:59 PM   #1
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Heat? What heat? (really long post)

"Heat? What heat?"

In essence, that's what I said to my wife yesterday before setting out on my long weekly ride. I thought I'd stretch my limits a little and ride to a nearby town I'd not visited before. Only 25 miles or so of rolling hills each way. Piece of cake, right?

Temps were just above 90 degrees at the time I set out, but there was good cloud cover for shade and I was in no hurry. As luck would have it, the cloud cover disappeared about 20 minutes into the ride. Bad omen?

Still, I made it to the town as planned, and stopped at the railroad museum there for a snack and stretching.

The trouble started just after that. First it was the headwind, which kicked up about a half mile from the museum. Then the realization my “drinks” were warm/hot, and I was really low on both water and Gatorade at that point. Soon I felt really tired. And hot. Really hot.

Rather than stop I figured I'd just catch my second wind like usual and ride through it. I now realize I was borderline hyperthermic. Had I any sense about me I would have stopped and gotten something ice cold to drink, to help bring down my core temperature.

Instead, I suffered through another 45 minutes getting back to another small town, where I rolled up to the Hardee's drive through and ordered an ice-cold Coke, thinking the cold liquid would bring down my internal temp, while the sugar and caffeine would give me a boost of energt. The blast of cold air from the drive-up window was quite refreshing. I should have gone inside where it was really cool.

Clearly I was not thinking straight. I was fixated on getting home. So I took a few swigs of Coke then set out for home, gulping more as I went along. I got progressively slower and slower as I neared home. The Coke fix did not work after all. Everything ached. My feet were on fire, my butt was raw, there was pain in the small of my back and I was getting a headache. Still I was determined not to dismount until in my own driveway, which I did, no doubt teetering on the verge of heat stroke.

In the aviation world they call this syndrome "get-home-itis" and this mindset is responsible for many poor (and fatal) in-flight decisions.

Aside from traffic dangers, cycling is not as inherently risky as flying, but there are similarities in the decision making process when it comes to preparation and execution (route planning, equipment for repairs, etc.)

Moral of the story? Be careful when it's hot! I certainly will do a better "pre-flight" inventory before setting out into the unknown, even to a town that's "only" 25 miles distant.
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Old 05-30-11, 07:07 PM   #2
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Glad you got home, usually the wind will evaporate the sweat & cool your body. If you stopped sweating, you're lucky.
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Old 05-30-11, 07:37 PM   #3
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I almost died from heatstroke when I was 15 years old. I ran cross-country in high school. My family moved during the summer between my freshman year and sophomore year. Because of all the activities related to the move, I did not have the opportunity to train much on my own prior to the official start of training at my new school.

The lack of training, plus the different climate (we moved to a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa., which has very hot and humid weather in July and August) did me in on the first evening of practice at my new school. We went for a moderately paced 3.5 mile run. Even though I suffered terribly, I finished the run and then collapsed immediately. The last two things I remember from that run are how my legs felt like rubber as I approached the area where we were to finish, and coming to as I was being loaded into the ambulance which rushed me to the nearby hospital where they saved my life. They plunked me into a bathtub filled with ice water to bring my core temperature down. It was so long ago that I cannot remember the maximum temperature my body reached that day; it was either 104 or 105 degrees F.

So, what were the take-home lessons from this episode? There are two that have stuck with me in the almost 40 years since then: (1) Know your limitations, and (2) always stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is the most important. Back in my high school days, there really were no sports physiologists, and a lot of coaches actually discouraged water intake during practice. Now, 40 years later, I cannot get enough liguid before, during, and after physical exertion.

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I should have gone inside where it was really cool.
Absolutely! You should have gone inside where it was air-conditioned, taken a 10-minute break, and drunk a large portion of your cold drink.

I am glad you made it home safely. If there is any message I can pass along to my fellow cyclists, it is this: Don't mess with heatstroke. It can kill you a lot quicker than you think.
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Old 05-30-11, 07:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Banded Krait View Post
So, what were the take-home lessons from this episode? There are two that have stuck with me in the almost 40 years since then: (1) Know your limitations, and (2) always stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is the most important. Back in my high school days, there really were no sports physiologists, and a lot of coaches actually discouraged water intake during practice. Now, 40 years later, I cannot get enough liguid before, during, and after physical exertion.
I have a much healthier appreciation for my limitations today! I enjoy riding solo, but there's no one with better common sense to rely on.

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Absolutely! You should have gone inside where it was air-conditioned, taken a 10-minute break, and drunk a large portion of your cold drink.
At that point my thoughts were not well-connected. I did not want to get off the bike. In retrospect, the symptoms and poor choices came on rather quickly. Next time I will make the smarter choice.

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I am glad you made it home safely. If there is any message I can pass along to my fellow cyclists, it is this: Don't mess with heatstroke. It can kill you a lot quicker than you think.
Amen to that!
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Old 05-30-11, 08:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Banded Krait View Post
I almost died from heatstroke when I was 15 years old. I ran cross-country in high school. My family moved during the summer between my freshman year and sophomore year. Because of all the activities related to the move, I did not have the opportunity to train much on my own prior to the official start of training at my new school.

The lack of training, plus the different climate (we moved to a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa., which has very hot and humid weather in July and August) did me in on the first evening of practice at my new school. We went for a moderately paced 3.5 mile run. Even though I suffered terribly, I finished the run and then collapsed immediately. The last two things I remember from that run are how my legs felt like rubber as I approached the area where we were to finish, and coming to as I was being loaded into the ambulance which rushed me to the nearby hospital where they saved my life. They plunked me into a bathtub filled with ice water to bring my core temperature down. It was so long ago that I cannot remember the maximum temperature my body reached that day; it was either 104 or 105 degrees F.

So, what were the take-home lessons from this episode? There are two that have stuck with me in the almost 40 years since then: (1) Know your limitations, and (2) always stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is the most important. Back in my high school days, there really were no sports physiologists, and a lot of coaches actually discouraged water intake during practice. Now, 40 years later, I cannot get enough liguid before, during, and after physical exertion.

Absolutely! You should have gone inside where it was air-conditioned, taken a 10-minute break, and drunk a large portion of your cold drink.

I am glad you made it home safely. If there is any message I can pass along to my fellow cyclists, it is this: Don't mess with heatstroke. It can kill you a lot quicker than you think.
+1....My heat stupidity came on the golf course. It was 110 degrees, thought no one would be out there so i could walk 18 quickly. About the 12th hole i was seeing stars, felt like i was being stuck with a thousand pins. I stopped, got some water and went in and home. Had a mild case of heat stroke. Ever since then i am very afraid of heat stroke hence i stop at intervals i plan before i ride, plan where to get ice and rest. Even if i feel good i still stop as planned. If thats not enough i just rest and head for home.
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Old 05-30-11, 08:14 PM   #6
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Next time, try starting your "long" rides early in the morning (if it's on a weekend). On weekdays (after work), I only do "short" rides of 25-35 miles, carrying 2 bottles with me.
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Old 05-31-11, 06:03 AM   #7
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Humidity is a huge factor.If I ever win the big one,I would love to move West. Northern New Mexico,Northern Arizona,Utah,etc. It still gets hot,but at 8% humidity or so,that is a relief from what I'm used to. Having lived in Southern Arizona in my teens,I didn't have a issue with the heat. Several years ago we went to South Dakota and it set a record high of 103 degrees.To me,it felt more like 78-80 because it was a dry heat. Here in the South,you walk outside and it feels like being punched in the face by a hot damp towel.

I would use a Camel Bak hydration pack,and two water bottles. Freeze the water bottles,and you'll have cold water on the way home.
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Old 05-31-11, 09:35 AM   #8
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Next time, try starting your "long" rides early in the morning (if it's on a weekend). On weekdays (after work), I only do "short" rides of 25-35 miles, carrying 2 bottles with me.

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Freeze the water bottles,and you'll have cold water on the way home.
Good points, all. I usually do ride in the mornings, but my schedule conspired against me last weekend. I'll definitely pack more ice next time, and stop for breaks periodically.
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Old 05-31-11, 09:48 AM   #9
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Living in South Florida, I find it refreshing that a post titled "Heat? What heat?" makes no mention of Lebron James.
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Old 05-31-11, 09:57 AM   #10
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I live in the South where temps are now in the 90s during the day. I just don't ride when it's that hot. I wait until evening or simply do not ride. If there is a ride in the heat of the afternoon, I just don't go. Or I will ride in the mornings on weekends.
With the mention of golf above. I have been on MANY golf forums where the "purists" get on to people for riding in golf carts. I ALWAYS make a mention to them that you just can't do that in the South. With temps in the 90s and 100s you simply can not walk a golf course and be safe. Sometimes you just have to use common sense. That isn't a put down, it's just good advice

You ride for enjoyment and exercise and.............TO BE HEALTHY. Well, there is nothing healthy about heat stroke. Be safe. 50 miles on a bike is a long ways, whether or not you may think it is. It IS!

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Old 05-31-11, 10:22 AM   #11
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Some people are more affected by heat than others, but we all have to pay attention to it. I handle heat pretty well and will be riding this afternoon when it will be mid 90s. I make sure I stay hydrated and I back off the pace when it is this hot.

Forecast says it will be upper 90s to 100 every day during BRAG next week. Beats sitting in this air conditioned office.
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Old 05-31-11, 10:40 AM   #12
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You ride for enjoyment and exercise and.............TO BE HEALTHY. Well, there is nothing healthy about heat stroke. Be safe. 50 miles on a bike is a long ways, whether or not you may think it is. It IS!
Did a 50 in the 90+ yesterday. Couldnt wait to hit the Lake Michigan coastal town nearby. Probably saved my ride. Pulse didnt elevate because I slowed to low gear and went real slow on the smallest of hills and slight grades. We commonly have 90ish weather up here in northern lower Michigan. With a short summer ya just gotta ride.
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Old 05-31-11, 10:55 AM   #13
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I suffered an instance of heat exhaustion when I was in college back in the 80s. I had a summer job working as a playground attendant and on one particularly humid day I over-did it. I felt exhausted and listless, and while riding my bike home it only got worse. I stopped at the volunteer fire hall on my way home because I thought I was having heat stroke. They seemed to think since I came in on a bicycle it must not have been that bad, and kind of blew it off- didn't even offer me anything to drink. I hung out in the AC for a while, took a long drink from the water fountain, and continued home, still feeling terrible. I went home and laid down on the concrete in the basement figuring if my temp was elevated it would be a good heat sink. It seemed to do the trick although it was several days before I felt normal again, and for many years afterward I was not very heat tolerant. (Ironically, my heat tolerance has only gotten better since I've started riding again a few years ago.)
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Old 05-31-11, 11:08 AM   #14
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Wobbly will hopefully chip in wirh something as he is in hotter climes than most of us.

We don't get "HOT" weather over here but they do in France. I used to races Karts there 30 years ago and mostly it was UK temps and above. The french don't race in the winter by the way so they have sense. But a few circuits and High Humidity with heat was the problem. Talking pushing 100 and very high humidity. Then I got onto salt tablets and the weariness of being in the sun racing for 1 hour + at a time went. Then one event and the track had to be modified due to the asphalt lifting. 110 air temp and the circuit was so hot- one driver put a frying pan on the ground for 5 minutes and fried an egg in it.

Heat and it can be overcome with enough water- a bit of training and being fit. Humidity and you have to combat with other means.
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Old 05-31-11, 11:29 AM   #15
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I wear a UV Buff I got from cabelas for fishing. It works great for keeping the sweat out of my eyes and keeps the hot sun off my neck. Helps keep my head cool too.
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Old 05-31-11, 11:47 AM   #16
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My brush with heat problems came my first summer commuting. While that 8 mile commute seems like nothing now, it was work back then. With temps in the teens (110-115), I would 'pre-hydrate' for the ride home, and then rely on my Camelbak. But I was really busy one afternoon, had not pre-hydrated, and had not refilled my pack. I ran out of water, not far from from home, but by the time I got there I was no longer sweating, was feeling disoriented, and like I was going to collapse. I grabbed water and jumped in the shower until I felt I was recovering. Good thing it wasn't longer. In our dry climate, you can manage the heat IF you hydrate. Otherwise... you become a statistic.

Our group rides here start as early as 5:30 in the summer. The night before, I freeze a bottle of Sustained Energy, and about two-thirds of a water bottle, which I top off with cold water on the way out. That gets me 1.5-2 hours before a stop to refill, and the water is still a 'tolerable temp'. Even starting frozen, what's left of the SE gets rancid by then, and I replace it with ice-water at the stop, giving me two bottles for the rest of the ride. I find that my drinking increases steadily during the course of a summar ride, even though the last part is often less strenuous. So, even if there is not much distance left, if I am running out, I remind myself NOT to conserve, and stop somewhere to refill.
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Old 05-31-11, 11:49 AM   #17
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I just walked back in from a 2 hour ride in NW Florida, Weather Chanel online here shows 93 degrees "feels like 98". Coming back a few minutes ago, I went a 4-5 mile stretch where I was running dead with the wind, usually love that, not this time; thought I was going to cook.

About two years ago, was doing a outdoors building project around the house with temps in the low 100's and humidities about 70-80%. Got dizzy and tried to work through it. Then it got really bad but I made it into the shower. Took me a good part of a week to recover.

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Old 05-31-11, 07:36 PM   #18
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I lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for 12 years where for long months the temps maxed at about 93 F and relative humidity was also 93%. This is much like standing in a shower. I played tennis year round and in summer months drank huge amounts of water. One can operate in high temps and humidity but you need to think about it and plan.
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Old 06-01-11, 03:05 PM   #19
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Don't know if any of you have tried this but Sauna's. Few years ago and our BIG ride of the year was going to be done in heat. Temps of 90f were promised so for a couple of weeks I went to the local gym and exercised in the sauna. First time and temp of 120f and very high humidity and 10 minutes gentle exercise was all I could take. 10 days later and it was 2 hours at a time- 3 litres of water and a weight loss of 3lbs every visit.

Didn't help much though- a Front came in and we had gentle rain all day long and a temp of 50F---In june.
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Old 06-01-11, 04:57 PM   #20
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Don't know if any of you have tried this but Sauna's. Few years ago and our BIG ride of the year was going to be done in heat. Temps of 90f were promised so for a couple of weeks I went to the local gym and exercised in the sauna. First time and temp of 120f and very high humidity and 10 minutes gentle exercise was all I could take. 10 days later and it was 2 hours at a time- 3 litres of water and a weight loss of 3lbs every visit.
Now that's dedication!

BTW, I lost 5 lbs on my little (mis)adventure.
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Old 06-01-11, 08:21 PM   #21
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Forecast for the first 6 days of BRAG from the midpoint in Dublin. Looks like it will be fairly warm.
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Old 06-01-11, 10:33 PM   #22
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Yeah -- you know it's summertime when you find yourself saying "Thank God,a headwind"
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Old 06-02-11, 11:01 AM   #23
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[QUOTE=stapfam;12718387]Wobbly will hopefully chip in wirh something as he is in hotter climes than most of us.

Thanks for the invitation, and it'd be rude not to offer

But honestly I have nothing to offer that hasn't already been said. Hydrate plenty, use isotonics as well as water.

A possible observation. One hot ride here, the whole group was riding along fine on a hot day - we stopped for a little pause, and of a sudden the whole group was shivering and dry heaving. Had to call a bus and a trailer to get us and the bikes home. The breeze from movement and the heat which evaporated sweat made us all feel dry and comfy - but we were all cooked by the time we stopped.

Just like people in cold trouble, close to death, might take clothing off because their calibration has gone, so with hot. Plan your ride and don't trust your mid ride perception

Safe and comfortable wishes all
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Old 06-02-11, 01:13 PM   #24
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Cross post from road....

I was out Tuesday, 95 *, dripping sweat for the first 18 or so miles, suddenly .... I wasn't sweating, and damn it's cold - I got goose bumps ! (no I didn't fall into a lake, I wish!).

I had taken 2 electrolyte caps pre ride and had drunk about 2 quarts of water during the ride.

Weather changed from 60's and rainy the past 2 months to 95* and sunny - no real time to acclimate.

Dumped water on my head, sat in the shade for a while, and took it easy going home. Didn't feel too great Weds, but ready to go out tonight - helps it's 80's today !!!
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Old 06-02-11, 03:31 PM   #25
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Location: St Petersburg, FL
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Living in hot and humid Florida, I've had my brushes with heat exhaustion. Hydration is the key. I read an article on a theory of sweating. The traditional theory is the evaporation of sweat on the skin cools the body. But that theory breaks down when you are at 98% humidity at 90+ degrees F, and the skin is soaked in sweat and and there is little or no evaporation occurring.

This article said the body is actually moving heat out by throwing off the sweat. So theoretically, if you can keep enough liquid going in, the body can keep pumping out the heat in the sweat. The problem is, your body can sweat faster than you can absorb the liquid, even if you're drinking as much as your stomach can hold.
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