Cycling & Heat

Some Like it Hot

19“It was a sauna out there.”  Raivis Belohvosciks, Latvian Olympian on Beijing Road Race DNF

It's just a mirage, that's really a bicycle

 

Late summer Latin dominance in hot and humid races is nearly predictable. Northerners take notice, some like it hot. We perform best when our body is not under stress from our surroundings. As an outdoor activity, cycling relies on the good graces of Weather and Terrain. These graces growl during these dog days of summer. The more time spent with under heat stress, and the body adapts. This happens fairly quickly and within 2 weeks, one can expect big changes in blood volume while sweat rates and the efficiency of sweating begin to improve also.

Spending time at altitude or in heat and humidity begins a process of physiological adaptation to those conditions. Pro cyclists travel to training camps or make choices about where to live that simulate these conditions so the power of the graces can be wielded for the initiated and against the unfamiliar. Even a few days of heat exposure prior to an event helps acclimatization, and racing a few events in the heat before a key race tops off intensity. Saunas, heat chambers and other artificial environments assist adaptation.

Before a national event in a humid southern climate, the bike on a trainer in a greenhouse at the hottest part of the day became my training laboratory. Simulating conditions improves 20heat tolerance – coping with dehydration while lowering resting body temperature, perceived exertion, cardio strain and salt losses in sweat. The body sends a message for mineral depletion by increasing the salty residue after hard exercise sessions. This is a chalky white whisper that more salt is needed! Depletion of salt and water and increased core temperature can lead to several heat-related illnesses – from fainting to heat cramps, heatstroke, and potentially life-threatening and brain-searing heat exhaustion. Hydration and salt replacement in hot or humid conditions becomes life-saving not just performance-enhancing. Yet the best enhancement is gradual exertion over time in the targeted environment.

Prayer for Heat Acclimatization

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter,  day and night will never cease.” 21Genesis 8:22

We are glad for promised seasons and aware of unpredictable weather. We ask to acclimatize in predicted hot conditions.

Ponder Am I matching preparation with expectations as it relates to hot and humid events? Affirm I heat up my preparation according to the expected climate of a venue. Watch the thermometer and barometer.

19“Olympics-Cyclists wilt as Beijing competitors feel the heat,” by Francois Thomazeau posted Aug 9, 2008 on www.reuters.com

20High Performance Cycling, by Asker E. Jeukendrup Copyright © 2002 by Human Kinetics Publishers 

21The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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