Cycling in the Warmer Months - Adapt Your Ride
The bitter wind and cold of a Victorian winter can be highly discouraging to amateur and professional road bike riders. Let's face it, who really wants to be out in the driving rain and gale force winds rolling off the bay or mountains.
Thankfully, with Spring officially here, we can look forward to some warmer mornings and milder evenings for our rides. But cycling in the heat can lead to a whole new set of considerations to make sure your ride is still comfortable.
Here are some of our top tips for adapting your ride and preparation to make sure that you make the most of your rides during the warmer months.
Keep the Heat Away
The human body is a heat generating machine. In fact, over three-quarters of energy that you use when you are cycling is released as heat, with a relatively minor amount used to generate force on the pedals and steer the bike.
The effects of heat gain are cumulative. That means that as rides go longer, your core body temperature rises from a progressively higher base level. As a rough guide, every five to ten minutes your body temperature will rise by almost a degree during a strenuous ride.
However, if this continued beyond a short period of time, you would soon suffer from heat exhaustion. Your body's way of regulating heat increases is to sweat.
Humidity impairs effective sweating, as the droplets coat your skin, meaning that new sweat cannot escape properly. There are two solutions to this. The humidity early in the day is typically lower than it is later in the day. In addition, base layer garments and most compression clothing is specially designed to wick the sweat away from your body and provide efficient cooling to your body as it sweats.
Acclimatise Like a Pro
Queenslanders find Victoria in the winter unbearably cold, while in summer, Victorians in North Queensland will find themselves highly uncomfortable. There is some scientific explanation for this phenomenon. Humans are able to acclimatise to better suit their environmental surroundings.
This is also why road cyclists can train their body and mind to better tolerate the heat and humidity of the summer months. Luckily, this process is fairly quick, with around two weeks of training usually sufficient to change your physiology to better suit the heat.
Until you are completely used to the different demands of riding in warmer temperatures, you could also consider modifying the intensity and duration of your rides.
Probably the most basic and obvious way to combat heat stress, discomfort and negative effects on your performance. Replacing lost fluid with a slightly saline fluid like an electrolyte drink or water with some salt in it is the best way to go, and avoid sports drinks with high sugar content if possible.