Great Tips For Cycling in the Heat

Keith Edwin Renninson

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As I write this article, we are in the midst of a July heat wave in Denver. I rode 57.79 miles this morning when it was in the low 70’s. Riding west into the southern foothills around 7 am in Deer Creek Canyon I hit pockets of 60 something degrees and it felt so good.

As I rose in elevation above 6000 feet and got deeper into the mountains the cool air prevailed. Riding in the mountains in the heat isn’t fun, as many of you know…of course, riding in the heat isn’t any fun period, no matter where you are.

By the time I got back down to the front range plains the temperature was pushing 90 and only got higher until I finished around 11:30. Ah, home and the wonderful effects of A/C and a cold shower.

Riding in high temperatures takes a toll on the body in strange ways. You need to prepare for the ride as you normally would by eating a good high carb breakfast, with orange juice, water, or coffee which ever you prefer. Just be sure you’ve hydrated sufficiently before you leave.

My routine, when I know I’m riding a fair distance in warm to hot air, is to begin hydrating the night before. I know that other riders have experienced this too, your body seems to sense when you are preparing and you consume more than usual.

Many riders are taking to Camel Backs to increase the amount of water available; combined with two water bottles you have enough carry you through most areas that don’t have any support (read: gas stations or convenience stores).

I generally mix one bottle with Accelerade because I like the proportions of carbs, protein, sodium and it keeps me energized longer. The sodium content is important as you sweat more and need to retain wter to keep cool. Accelerade contains 190 mg per scoop. . . I use two scoops per water water bottle. Some drinks have too much sugar and are subsequently too sweet…that gets old quickly in the heat when you are longing for a good thirst quencher with flavor.

I alternate between the plain water in the other bottle or Camel Back and the Accelerade, saving the performance drink for the long haul. On really long endurance rides, I’ll bring a one or two Baggies with pre-measured amounts to replenish my drink as I run out.

On recreational rides, you can take your time, eat and drink regularly, stay hydrated and alert. If you see you are running short, plan accordingly and ration yourself until you can refill your bottles…try to keep a little in the bottle to just wet your mouth so you can keep going. If need be, stop and rest, cool down, borrow some water from a fellow rider and then start again.

One last item that may be more personal experience than anything else. I don’t do any caffeine when riding in the heat. It has a tendency to make you work more because of the energy it gives you. This can produce more body heat when you don’t want it. I don’t like caffeine anyway, but when I have accidentally ingested it on a ride, I find I have to drink more to cool off. Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway you look at it, preparation is the key to riding in the heat. Take enough water, sports drink and food, use sunscreen to keep from burning and raising your body temperature, and stop occasionally to rest and cool down, it will make your ride much more enjoyable during the hot summer months.

Good luck and happy riding!

Keith Edwin Renninson is co-owner, along with Jeffrey Forman, of Golden Years Videos, LLC a production company dedicated to offering exercise videos for those over 50 or of any age who are rehabilitating from an accident or illness.

Renninson is an avid exercise and yoga enthusiast. Now in his late 50’s; he still races bicycles and regularly skis the black diamond runs in Colorado where he lives. For many years, a bona fide gym rat, Renninson still loves to lift free weights and use exercise machines.

You can contact Renninson or read more about his company and the videos they have available at:


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