Summer Riding

A cycling tip for your summer riding is – drink cool water to help keep you riding strong during the hot summer months.

A few years ago I sat through a seminar with Dr. Stacy Sims, her specialty is thermoregulation.  What is thermoregulation and how does it affect your cycling?

Thermoregulation is the process our body uses to keep the core temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.   When our bodies are over heating by exercising, being outside in the hot temperatures, humid conditions,  or nervous our core temperatures raises and we sweat.  Sweating cools off our bodies.   Sweat is made up of 99% water plus mineral salts (sodium chloride) and other ingredients.

According to Dr. Sims

  • Approximately 63% of the entire body mass is water
  • Greater than 50% of the blood plasma is water
  • Water is the medium for biochemical and metabolic reactions
  • Thermoregulation of the body is regulated using water
  • The body is highly sensitive to dehydration

So we are outside training / riding our bikes and we are sweating buckets what happens to our bodies if we are not replenishing the water?  We have loss water and as little of .5% can put a strain on our heart muscle and our cycling performance.

Dr. John Ivy wrote in The Performance Zone that:

  • .5% loss of water could increase strain on the heart
  • 1%  loss of water  could reduce aerobic endurance
  • 3%  loss of water could reduce muscular endurance
  • 4%  loss of water could reduce muscle strength, reduced fine motor skills; heat cramps
  • 5% loss of water could cause heat exhaustion; cramping; fatigue; reduce mental capacity
  • 6% loss of water could cause physical exhaustion;  heat stroke; coma

If you do become dehydrated the Mayo clinic suggests:

Treating dehydration in athletes of all ages
For exercise-related dehydration, cool water is your best bet. Sports drinks containing electrolytes and a carbohydrate solution also may be helpful. There’s no need for salt tablets — too much salt can lead to hypernatremia dehydration, a condition in which your body not only is short of water but also carries an excess of sodium.

Treating severe dehydration
Children and adults who are severely dehydrated should be treated by emergency personnel arriving in an ambulance or in a hospital emergency room, where they can receive salts and fluids through a vein (intravenously) rather than by mouth. Intravenous hydration provides the body with water and essential nutrients much more quickly than oral solutions do — something that’s essential in life-threatening situations.

After completing your ride or during ride say at a rest stop if you are hot and thirsty do not put ice on your body.  The ice or even ice water is too cold, according to Dr. Sims, and the ice will constrict vessels and send the hot blood back to the core rather than cooling the core down.  Drink cool water and dip or pour cool water on your bare feet, hands or head to help the body cool down.

How much water should you drink during your ride will depend on how hydrated your body is prior to your ride.  Just drink before, during and after your ride  and remember what you eat and drink today will affect how you ride tomorrow.