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Enthusiastic amateur and hot weather concerns

Old 07-13-17, 03:11 PM
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Enthusiastic amateur and hot weather concerns

As the title says, I'm an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to riding a bike. I decided to bike to work to save money, bought a bike that worked for me on the 1st (the first one bought on the 29th didn't) and somehow I've survived the 3 miles to work for three days now.

I didn't ride today though because yesterday they predicted a heat advisory and I was scheduled to get off at 1pm; I got a ride instead. It was 95 degrees when I got off, heat index of 105 degrees. It's going to be similar tomorrow.

I think I'm in okay shape because I'm on my feet and walking all day at work, but I also know that I'm not in great shape and I'm now using muscles that I haven't used in a very, very long time. Under normal weather conditions (90, no significant heat index) and with my normal schedule of closing I have to stop halfway for a break riding to work, but the cooler weather at night means I don't need to stop at any point. I also am on medication that dehydrates me. How can I safely ride a bike to work under severe heat weather conditions? I can't catch a ride every day.
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Old 07-13-17, 03:28 PM
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When I started commuting again several yrs ago it was in Aug. The distance was a little less than 3 mi one way. And it was here in Phoenix. But I'm not on dehydrating meds either.

What worked was to go slow. Told myself to just try it out and see if I liked it. The first week was probably 25 mi. The next week a little more than 30. Within a couple of months the weekly mileage was over 50. I liked it.

Nowadays it's closer to 80. The important about doing any kind of activity in extreme heat is acclimation. If you're not used to it don't just hop on the bike and go for a 20, 40, 60 miler. Start and build up slowly.

When you are riding in the heat, Listen to your body. Are you feeling woozy or dizzy? More tired than usual for the exertion? Google signs of dehydration. If you are pushing too hard back off. Find a cool place, drink a cold one or two. Live to ride another day.
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Old 07-13-17, 03:30 PM
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The key is staying hydrated - especially with your medication situation. 3 miles isn't very far, so you really should be ok either way. Maybe purchase some clothing for various weather conditions. With these things, you should be good to go.
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Old 07-13-17, 03:38 PM
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You shouldn't need anything for three miles. That's less than 16,000 feet. How long could it possible take to ride that far?
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Old 07-13-17, 03:42 PM
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So that is hot riding weather, and taking care of your health is the most important thing to consider, but 3 miles isnt far and assuming someone is in relatively good shape(walking for work would require the level I mean) they should be able to ride the 3mi without issue. Drink a bottle of water before, have some during the ride if needed, and drink when you get home.
Its 3 miles- that will take 12-20minutes depending on frequency of required stops and riding speed.
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Old 07-13-17, 04:15 PM
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Three miles is an eternity to some folks. Depends on their physical condition, heat, hills and other factors.

Drink plenty of water. Use electrolytes if you need 'em and your doctor gives the okay -- Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, added stuff like DripDrop, NUUN, whatever's available.

Stop and rest when you need to, especially climbing hills. Even a slight 1% grade can be exhausting at first.

I resumed bicycling in August 2015 after not riding for more than 30 years. I'd been off a walking cane for only a year, due to car wreck injuries. Although I walked a few miles at a time a few days a week, I wasn't very fit.

When I bought the bike I planned to ride the three miles home. Why not, I'd ridden 20 miles a day commuting and weekend rides up to 100 miles or longer... when I was in my 20s, decades ago.

Didn't work out as planned.

The ride home was much hillier than I'd expected. Only a 2% roller coaster, but it was enough to exhaust me within a mile, along with the 100F heat. I literally collapsed on the grass on the roadside -- flopped onto the grass while trying to dismount the bike.

Fortunately I flopped at a bus stop. And the bus was only a few hundred yards away. The driver showed me how to load the bike onto the front rack. And he dropped me right in front of my home, although it technically wasn't the designated stop.

After that debacle I was determined to get back into shape. I had no idea how hard it would be or that it would take so long. Between asthma and poor fitness I could ride only 400 yards at a time, stopping to wheeze and rest for a few minutes before continuing. Riding one mile could take 15-30 minutes. On hills I was passed by people walking. Grannies in wheelchairs and kids on Big Wheels were faster.

Took two months of hard work to get back into anything resembling decent physical shape.

Now I usually ride 20-50 miles at a time, three to five times a week. I got my first road bike in 30+ years last month. I've scored a couple of Strava KOMs on some easy segments with little competition, but I'm not really fast. I average 16 mph on the road bike, 14 mph on the hybrid, 11 mph on the heavy comfort hybrid I started with in 2015.

And every time I ride 35 mph downhill, or grind up a steep grade at 10 mph, without needing to stop every 400 yards, I remind myself of that first ride in August 2015 when I thought I could ride 3 miles home, easy, and collapsed after one mile and had to be scraped off the grass by a kind bus driver.
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Old 07-13-17, 06:49 PM
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Stay hydrated. Honestly 3 miles is nothing on a bike, even in high heat.
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Old 07-13-17, 07:08 PM
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I'm inclined to agree with those who are saying you are unlikely to get meaningfully dehydrated over a 3 mile ride. Exhausted? Perhaps, but not medically significant dehydration. A bigger issue is getting seriously overheated. If you work in a very air-conditioned workplace, then getting off work and riding off into 100+ heat index full-sun weather will feel terrible. Unless you really push yourself, however, it's probably not dangerous.

I make it a point to ride a lot in the spring, and as the weather heats up I keep riding at the same time (mid-morning start time), so right now I'm acclimated to doing 40-50 mile rides through noon on 90 degree days with 80% humidity and no shade. It's actually quite tolerable, since I've built up to it. So you can look forward to next summer being pretty easy if you keep riding year round. For now, you might invest in a long-sleeve sun shirt and some shorts to ride in, and take as many breaks as you need. Instead of drinking excessive amounts of water (just drink as you feel thirsty), you might put a mist-spray bottle with water in one of your bottle cages, and stop and spray yourself down every mile or so. If you start feeling crummy (kind of sick to the stomach and headache are the mild first signs of possibly being overheated), then find some shade and sit down till it passes. Don't gut it out, it will pass.

I ride in a long sleeve white jersey, with white leggings, when I'm in full sun on a hot day. They're designed to wick away moisture, reflect and block UV rays, and breathe. Saves me slathering on tons of sunscreen, too. You probably don't need to go that far, but my point is that your clothing is a big issue. If you're riding home in your work clothes, you're going to be a lot hotter and more uncomfortable. Stick with it, and in a couple of weeks this will seem easy.
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Old 07-13-17, 07:24 PM
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Let's not confuse heat adaptation and the risks of heat exhaustion/stroke with dehydration. They're two very different things.

You can be well hydrated and still suffer heat related illness.

Heat adaptation takes time. It cannot be rushed and there are no shortcuts. You cannot quickly will yourself into heat adaptation, toughen up, or drink magical potions. It takes time. It's like curing yourself of the common cold. With proper care a cold lasts only a week. Without proper care it can drag on for seven whole days.

Ride until you feel uncomfortable. Stop, rest, cool down. Repeat as often as necessary to ride a mile or three miles. When resting in the heat doesn't make you feel better, you've reached today's limits of heat adaptation. Get inside where it's cool.

Consider carrying a reusable gel ice/cold pack. It should last the duration of a 3 mile ride. Carry an insulated tote with one or two gel packs. Apply 'em to the neck and face during rest breaks.

This stuff works. There are entire scientifically researched articles explaining it all. But this is the shorthand version. I was an occupational safety and health professional in another life. We applied this training not only to ourselves but for inspecting and consultation with jobs that demanded working in the heat, ranging from construction to steel manufacturing and foundry industries.

With patience and a careful approach you can become adapted to heat within a few weeks. But it progresses very gradually. You'll see results within two weeks, but don't expect it to come any sooner.

Ignore this stuff, rush it too much the first week or two, and you risk a serious setback from heat exhaustion or, worse, heat stroke.

Do it right and you'll enjoy activities even at midday, within reason.
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Old 07-13-17, 08:43 PM
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I say, Listen to CankleCat.

he, like me, was really fit, got way out of shape, and had a ton of medical issues ... not saying we are the same, but saying I know he knows his stuff.

Figure it will take an hour. it won't but give yourself that much time. Stop any time you feel like it. if you stop, stop in shade.

Acclimatization is key. your body gets used to air conditioning and when it hits high heat and bright sun, it doesn't know what to do ... but in a few days, it figures it out.

One thing I always underestimated was the time it took me to cool down after a ride. it's only three miles, but be sure you will have ten minutes in the AC afterwards.

I'd bet after a week of going slowly and stopping, you will be riding the whole thing each day. Two weeks later, the temperature won't matter and you will want to ride further. just don't push it. Go naturally. The young folks can test their limits and go nuts and get away with it. I have learned to listen to my body ans d rest when it says rest. In the long run, i go faster and grow faster than if I try to push and then collapse.

Mr. cankle (or is it Mr. cat?): I like the line about the cold.
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Old 07-13-17, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
Let's not confuse heat adaptation and the risks of heat exhaustion/stroke with dehydration. They're two very different things.

You can be well hydrated and still suffer heat related illness.

Heat adaptation takes time. It cannot be rushed and there are no shortcuts. You cannot quickly will yourself into heat adaptation, toughen up, or drink magical potions. It takes time. It's like curing yourself of the common cold. With proper care a cold lasts only a week. Without proper care it can drag on for seven whole days.

Ride until you feel uncomfortable. Stop, rest, cool down. Repeat as often as necessary to ride a mile or three miles. When resting in the heat doesn't make you feel better, you've reached today's limits of heat adaptation. Get inside where it's cool.

Consider carrying a reusable gel ice/cold pack. It should last the duration of a 3 mile ride. Carry an insulated tote with one or two gel packs. Apply 'em to the neck and face during rest breaks.

This stuff works. There are entire scientifically researched articles explaining it all. But this is the shorthand version. I was an occupational safety and health professional in another life. We applied this training not only to ourselves but for inspecting and consultation with jobs that demanded working in the heat, ranging from construction to steel manufacturing and foundry industries.

With patience and a careful approach you can become adapted to heat within a few weeks. But it progresses very gradually. You'll see results within two weeks, but don't expect it to come any sooner.

Ignore this stuff, rush it too much the first week or two, and you risk a serious setback from heat exhaustion or, worse, heat stroke.

Do it right and you'll enjoy activities even at midday, within reason.
I'd say this is probably your best advice. While I'm not someone who is particularity bothered by heat, I think even I had some heat exhaustion the other week. The last 2-3 weeks here in bozeman have been up in the high 90s. On the friday of the 2nd week I did a 55 mile ride in ~95 degree heat, with a few thousand feet of climbing. The next day, despite not riding super hard the day before, I could barely keep up with my friends, despite drafting off of them. I rode 20 miles that next day and I BARELY made it home, despite being fully hydrated. That mileage isn't very high for me, so I was really wondering what was going on, I eventually attributed it to heat exhaustion or something similar.
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Old 07-14-17, 03:59 AM
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Two bottles.
For several years my commute was a 20-mile round trip. Summer afternoons were frequently 95 to 112. (And, yes, I was well heat adapted). One day, on my way out the door, the company health and safety officer expressed concern with my cycling in such heat. I asked her to look at my bike. "I carry two water bottles. One for the inside, and one for the outside." She looked puzzled. I explained one was for drinking, while I would pour the other over my head and down my back for evaporative cooling, as needed. She was satisfied I would be safe.

Lots of good advice above... Drink water or a mild electrolyte solution. Get acclimated. Drink. Take it slow, with frequent stops as needed. Drink. Seek shade. Drink. Wear a helmet (or at least a light-colored head covering. Drink. Wear light-colored long-sleeved clothing and long pants. Drink. Allow time to cool off once home (nice cool shower). Have a beer.

How much to drink when it gets that hot? Try for a minimum of 1/2 to 1 liter per hour. Doing moderate work at 105 to 113 in Tempe, AZ, that much was adequate. I alternated water with a mild runner's electrolyte mix. Carried the bottle with me at all times for quick sips. What was really telling was switching to the electrolytes. I found that, all of a sudden, my body would sweat profusely, as if saying it could cool off NOW because it no longer needed to hang on to the salts in the body. (Looking back, it was also telling me I wasn't drinking enough!)

Now get out there!
Cheers!
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Old 07-14-17, 05:20 AM
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If you have to stop for a break halfway on your three mile commute, you need to go to your doctor for a physical.
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Old 07-14-17, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by jwalther
If you have to stop for a break halfway on your three mile commute, you need to go to your doctor for a physical.
Unless the commute is up some monster hill into a stiff headwind and it's being done barefoot and on underinflated tires, I agree.
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Old 07-14-17, 07:43 AM
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Tho poster has had a bike for two weeks, she will get there. The last 3 miles in stage 12 of TDF cost Team Sky the yellow jersey. 3 miles can be a b&tch.
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Old 07-14-17, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by washed up
Tho poster has had a bike for two weeks, she will get there. The last 3 miles in stage 12 of TDF cost Team Sky the yellow jersey. 3 miles can be a b&tch.

Perhaps. But the ride home in the opposite direction will be a breeze.
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Old 07-14-17, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by washed up
Tho poster has had a bike for two weeks, she will get there. The last 3 miles in stage 12 of TDF cost Team Sky the yellow jersey. 3 miles can be a b&tch.
The OP has described her route in another thread. Not anywhere close to as difficult as the above.
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Old 07-14-17, 10:10 AM
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Can we stop crapping on people for not being athletes, please? Are all you guys cursed with such huge egos and small penises that you cannot listen when a person (who mentioned health problems by the way) says she cannot ride three miles in the heat?

Everyone starts from where they are. If they are out of shape, it might take more strength of will to walk half a mile than it takes all you macho-boys to ride a double century. And there is no cachet, no special human grace, you earn from being athletically able. You are not a better person because you can ride farther.

You are a worse person if you ridicule someone who is trying her best and is smart enough to take care of herself.

I don't feel any need to praise people who can ride a century, for breaking a personal record. I know it is a lot harder to go from being sedentary to being active, and I praise the people who make that step.

A week out of heart surgery, I was not able to sit at my keyboard and type for 15 minutes. I guess I should have just shot myself eh?

And to the OP ... heat can really sap your strength and not taking it seriously can really hurt you. You are on the right track. Listen to CankleCat and coraddo33. The rest just need to be told they are alright ... not enough hugs as kids or whatever..

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Old 07-14-17, 10:13 AM
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I've been there to. Got on a bike for the first time in almost 35 years, rode 3.5 miles to a Kroger where my wife's car had stalled. 100+ heat, some hills, calling it an ordeal would be understating it. There is absolutely no reason to feel bad about having to stop on your 3-mile commute, or wanting to avoid that experience again. I didn't want to get on a bike again for weeks; it was too much by far.

I've been at it about 10 years since then, and a long ride then is not even my warm-up now. And it was at about half my present warm-up speed. It just happens, a little at a time, as you adapt to it.

If the medications dehydrate you, take a water bottle as people have mentioned. One should be enough, drink it before you get fatigued or light headed. You will adapt to the heat and to the effort, but it takes a little time. You don't have to push it in the beginning - it will naturally just get easier if you keep doing it consistently. Give it a couple of months and then look back and compare how you feel after the 3 miles, vs how it felt the first few times. I think you'll be surprised.
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Old 07-14-17, 11:18 AM
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I would try wetting a white cotton Tee shirt. As water evaporated it would cool. If it dried completely before arriving at the destination, sprinkle water on it from a water bottle.
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Old 07-14-17, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by berner
I would try wetting a white cotton Tee shirt. As water evaporated it would cool. If it dried completely before arriving at the destination, sprinkle water on it from a water bottle.
Wicking poly is much better than cotton at supporting evaporative cooling.
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Old 07-14-17, 12:25 PM
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Cotton carries a lot more water.
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Old 07-14-17, 12:38 PM
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DO NOT wear cotton in the hot sun. It makes things hell.

But that's unimportant. Just ride, and keep riding. You will get better.
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Old 07-14-17, 12:53 PM
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IMO, that and I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last week. Ride the three miles, take your time and drink water before and during the ride. If it starts to bother you find some shade and take a break. maybe on your day off and you get those conditions you can go for a short, maybe a mile out and back ride and see how you feel. If you feel ok try another short out and back.
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Old 07-14-17, 01:01 PM
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If you don't already have one, invest in an insulated water bottle (I have a couple of Camelbak ones and a Polar one). They are great and put ice in there before I fill it. In that heat it will probably get warm within an hour but at least it'll stay cold for most of that trip.
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