Jet Setter Cyclists

Counting Sheep

9“Twelve hours mate? That’s nothing.”  Stuart O’Grady on jet lag, after great rides at Tour of California then Het Volk in the same week, followed up by a Classics win

More than one way to dodge sheep


Our Australian brethren know a bit about long hours of travel and adjusting to a new time zone in order to race around the global village. After all there are a lot of sheep on ranches down under – plenty to count as one drifts off to sleep on a transcontinental flight.

Any jet setter knows that racing upon arrival in faraway destinations presents a performance challenge. The body clock must shift sleep management and digestion. Conventional wisdom is to take one day of adjustment for every time zone, but this and other myths are busted. So let’s break the sheep out of the corral to roam to and fro with some 10new information.

Transitions can occur smoothly to be race ready within 48 hours. The most important consideration is the sun at the destination point. Research shows that the reason is it’s easier to fly west than east is because upon arrival in the west, the day ends; while upon arriving east, the day begins, depending on flight schedules. Create a sleep adjustment schedule so you can track the sun where you’re going. Base your in-flight sleep on local destination times remembering that where you end your flight is the new rhythm, so sleep or wake accordingly. If traveling to the West, stay awake during the flight to sleep upon arrival. Plan some activities for the trip and include an occasional walk/stretch down the aisles. If heading east, sleep for duration after the first meal upon take-off and stay awake for the day upon arrival. Use ergogenic aids free of banned substances to aid staying awake, such as coffee or tea per your comfort level. To aid sleeping on a plane, use a night-time over-the- counter pain reliever as a sleep aid but make sure it does not contain any banned substances. Sleeping pills and melatonin are not recommended.

There are other musts for productive plane time. All that sitting slows digestion so eat small snacks and roughage to aid digestion. Compression hose reduces leg swelling that causes sluggishness or peripheral edema, fluid build-up from a pressurized flight.

As discussed, the sun is the most important consideration in reducing jet lag. Bright light exposure is the most potent force to re-set your body clock. Upon arrival heading east, choose the brightest part of the day to exercise with a vigorous stroll. Notice the local breed of sheep – but no need to count!

Prayer for Time Adjustment/Jet Lag

“Preserve sound judgment and discernment…when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  11Proverbs 3:21, 24

We give thanks that the sun overcomes darkness every day like a champion crossing the finish line. We pray for readjusted sleep patterns when traveling abroad.

Ponder Flight sleep/wake schedules to track with the arrival time zone. Affirm I look at plane time as training time either for sleep or for staying awake. Watch the sun’s pattern in the new time zone and act accordingly upon arrival.

9“Will Jet-Lag Tempt Boonen to Skip Het Volk?” Monday 25th February 2008 – Lionel Birnie 

10“Jet Lag: What To Do Before, During and After Your Flight,” a webinar by Randall L. Wilber, PhD, FACSM, Human Performance Lab, US Olympic Committee as presented on April 24, 2008 by USA Cycling Science & Education. Randy’s favorite in-flight foods are dark chocolate, warm milk, and apples.

11The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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