Riding in the Heat

Riding in the Heat
We are made to ride in the heat. We evolved on the plains of Africa with the ability to run down big game. Those who still hunt this way can run down a deer. These prey animals can have great bursts of speed but we have endurance. While they run away fast, so that the Lion is lost in their dust, humans just trotting behind them and tracking them could eventually catch up to them and make the kill. This could take hours or even days but we humans were designed to just keep on going, eating up the miles before getting to eat up the deer. There are still cultures in Africa and the Americas that pride themselves in being able to run what we would consider ultra marathons. But even in our modern culture of automobiles and skytrains we still are proud of our athletes who can run for miles and look good doing it.
Cyclists have the advantage of an evolutionary body that is built to run and one of the greatest inventions of humankind, the bicycle. This amazing machine in its modern form can give you the endurance training your body really wants as well as making you comfortable and efficient as you fly down the road. The bike takes the stress on your body that you get from running and turns that into motion. Rather than putting pressure on your knees, hips and feet, not to mention your spine, from the impact of running a bike, especially one with shocks and one that is fit right, will let you go for miles where only blocks were possible before. So now a person who is in shape can ride a hundred kilometers while on foot they may be able to do a third of that. With proper gear you can ride year round.
Riding in the heat is not a matter of gear but using your brain. Some people believe in sunscreen, so if that’s your thing slather it on. Personally I think all the chemicals in sunscreen give you cancer and stops your body from making Vitamin D but that is an opinion. But what most people underestimate is the amount of water you need on a long hot ride. Because the sweat is evaporating off you as you ride in the wind you create you may not notice how hard you are sweating until you stop. I personally don’t use a camel back as I have watched numerous friends make themselves sick because they didn’t keep them sterile. I use a water bottle and fill it regularly throughout the ride if I can. If I know that drinkable water will be scarce I pack a few extra water bottles and make sure a full one is waiting for me at the end of the ride. Most of the exhaustion, headaches and nausea people feel from riding in the heat are because of dehydration. Another issue people have is dealing with glare from the road and from the grit that comes from the dust when the landscape dries out from the heat. Sunglasses can really help with this. Of course you are wearing a helmet; just make sure yours has a sun visor on it.
I worked and rode in Cuba for five years and really put this to the test. I never had issues if I planned my ride, ensured my water source and paced myself. Some days there I rode a hundred km but nearly always twenty or more.
So enjoy the weather, use your muscles and your brain and you will do much better riding in the heat.

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