It was a sunny day in October 2 – Livestrong day. Another weekend long ride is about to get down. There’s no better way to commemorate this day for the people who struggle to fight cancer than to push one’s self to the limit and raise the bar from last week’s long ride. I personally believe that every weekend ride should be harder than the last one. It’s a fact of life, may it be in sports or not, that when you start to feel comfortable in whatever you do, chances are you are not improving. Routine is a killer especially when you want to get better and stronger. As much as possible, always try to challenge yourself. Last week’s ride was 63 km so we decided to tackle the 72 km Kalibo-Balete-Altavas-Batan-Dumaguit-New Washington-Kalibo bike ride this time around. Aside from my usual riding coaches and buddies (Andrew, Medel, Jojie, and Rey) the boys of Aklan Cycling Club also rode with us making this bike ride more memorable and fun for beginners like me and my wife.
The ride went smoothly at first because we were in great shape and we (my wife and I) thought that we were prepared to endure this ride but alas, we weren’t prepared for the heat. The fact that we train for our long rides during early mornings on weekdays, and also because our past weekend rides luckily fell on mostly cloudy or even sometimes rainy days, we were very unprepared for the effects of riding under the sun for a prolonged period of time. Heat stress really does hinder performance by impeding your body’s ability to disperse heat thus placing substantial demands on your body’s physiological control mechanisms. I learned this the hard way. I was off to a strong start but was literally struggling to maintain my normal pace at around 10-12 AM when the heat was so intense. A slight uphill stretch was so physically taxing when heat is added to the equation. Thankfully, we made it through the ride with proper nutrition, hydration and of course, well needed rest stops.
Now, I make sure to include heat training in my regimen in order to get myself used to the heat of the tropical sun. Here are some ways to prevent heat stress and ways to adjust your program to the demands of summer bike riding:
“PUSH, PUSH, PUSH!”
When the rainy season ends, make sure to gradually incorporate riding under the heat of the sun during your training sessions. Take note of the word gradual. Make it slow but sure. Push but always on the safe side. Because every person adapts to heat stress differently, take time to let your body adjust.
“BECOME ONE WITH THE SUN”
As what I have said earlier, don’t just train early in the morning away from the sun. Unless you’re planning to ride your bike on early mornings or night rides all the time. But if you want to join races later on, you have to get used to the sun. I heard pros do their heat training during the heart of the day when the sun is at its full fierceness usually around noon to 3 PM.
“WATER, LOTS OF IT”
It is very important to stay hydrated. That’s why it’s important to bring hydration bottles or bags at all times during a ride because you will lose about two quarts of fluid through sweating each hour alone. Keep this in mind to be aware of your hydration level. You must replenish the water you lose or you will put yourself at risk. Fluid loss can also impair your body’s ability to use oxygen, and will cause your pedaling power to deteriorate tremendously. Deal with this by drinking water prior to the ride. You can drink eight ounces while doing your bike’s mechanical safety check, another 8 or more ounces by sipping water every 20 minutes during the ride. Also you can bring carbohydrate-electrolyte “power” drinks which could replace lost fluid in the blood at a slightly faster rate than drinking pure water alone. One way to keep track of fluid loss is by monitoring your weight before and after a hard training so that you will have an idea if you need to hydrate more during the ride.
“DRESS TO KILL”
I am guilty of this before. I used to laugh when I see a biker in full gear. I thought it was silly and remember asking myself “Why wear those funny looking tight and colorful clothing?” Now, I know why. The answer is simple – functionality. A biker’s get-up can be summed up in three words, simplicity, comfort, and safety. When riding in a hot summer day, make sure to wear a light-colored jersey to reflect the sun’s radiant heat as much as possible. Choose a jersey with materials that allow air and moisture to flow in, out, and over your body to help you cool down. When using sunscreen, as my wife always insist on using, avoid using oil-based ones for it will also impede sweating.
And to sum it all up, in order to perform best during the summer heat, you will need ample training, proper hydration and nutrition program, and a lot of getting used to the sun. Always listen to your body. Learn to understand it and know its full potential. Use your common sense. You can’t stop the sun from shining and slowing you down, but with proper preparation, the sun can’t stop you from riding through the heat and reaching your destination.
Until next time! Ride safely. =)
Persius Ruiz is a businessman, a nurse, an artist, and an aspiring athlete. He’s practically new to the sport of mountain bike riding. But with the help of his good friend and mentor – Andrew Alcedo, his ever supportive wife, and the inspiring men and women of Tukod.ph, he is looking forward to compete in mountain bike races anytime soon. For now, he is on a mission to explore and conquer local trails as he continues to push himself to the limit to become a better athlete. Follow him as he shares his experiences and lessons learned along the way in his mountain bike saga. He also runs his own blog. visit -> http://schweigenrufmorder.wordpress.com/