2 Tips for Cycling in the Heat


Hydration has a significant impact on cycling performance and is especially important in hot weather. Dehydration of only two percent of your total body weight can impair your performance. Dehydration of five percent can reduce your work output by as much as 10 percent. When it comes to effective hydration, keep four points in mind:

? Determine your hydration needs. The simplest way to do this is to estimate your sweat rate. Weigh yourself on a digital scale prior to a brisk, one-hour ride. Then weigh yourself again after the ride. If you have lost one pound you are down 16 ounces of fluid. Repeat this process frequently to get a good sense of your sweat rate in different environmental conditions (i.e., temperatures).

More: Hydration Tips to Train in the Heat

As a general rule of thumb, bring two full bottles on every ride and drink 4-8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. For high temperature rides of more than an hour, consider using a hydration system. This serves a dual purpose. First, it allows you to conveniently carry a large volume of liquid. Second, by freezing the water (or filling it with ice), the hydration pack can help lower your core temperature. Practice using the hydration pack prior to an important event or competition. They can be a bit cumbersome.

? Arrive at your workout or event hydrated. The hydration process starts the day before a ride or race. If you know you will be riding in hot weather, make sure you drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of your workout.

More: Fluid Facts for Athletes

? Decide what to drink and make sure it's cold. For workouts that will last an hour or less, water is sufficient. For rides that last over an hour, use a sports drink to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes. This is particularly important in high heat conditions. Try out different drinks to see what works best for you but never try something new the day of an event.

? Drink before you get thirsty. The reason for this is simple. The dehydration process begins long before you feel thirsty. Get in the habit of drinking from your bottle every 15 minutes whether you feel thirsty or not. This will minimize the chances of getting dehydrated. It will also keep your energy levels up on long rides if you are using a sports drink, which you should be doing on any ride over an hour.

More: What Does Your Sweat Taste Like?

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About the Author

Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone A. Holmes, Ed.D, CPT, is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and a Level 2 cycling coach through USA Cycling. He provides Cycle-Max Coaching for cyclists and multisport athletes who want to improve their performance on the bike and Healthy Life Coaching for individuals who want to lose weight and develop healthier lifestyles. His latest book is Developing Training Plans for Cyclists and Triathletes. Visit his website at www.holmesfitness.com and his Fitness Corner blog at www.doctorholmes.wordpress.com.

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