heat exhaustion again

I am extremely light skinned and am incredibly susceptible to heat exhaustion. I had it in 2012 (understandably, but not a severe case). 2013 was pretty okay and 2014 was better..almost perfect. Bailed out last year in Cedar Falls with a temperature that gradually rose to 103 after a few hours after arriving home.The weather was much cooler last year and I was religious about drinking water (with occasional Gatorades mixed in). I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I have tried an abundance of water, Gatorade and pickles (but admit that I couldn’t find a darn pickle last year, though). I don’t drink alcohol or soda.

Being my own worst enemy…IF I ride this year, I am going to pack cold packs and a thermometer (I know, pathetic). If anyone has had a similar experience, please share it. I am no stranger to long distances. The trails here are somewhat shady and I have zero problem on those. There is a lot of sun exposure on the Ankeny to Woodward trail and had a problem there on a mild, windy day. I talked to a doctor about it. He suggested a cool towel, but I think that there has got to be more to it.

21 Replies

tjboland, July 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

My advice after many long rides in hot hot weather.. Use common sense and understand the symptons and what your body is telling you. Have friends that also keep an eye on each other! Hydrate, I like NUUN electrolyte tablets. Hydrate in the evenings and also early in the AMs! NOT just when you are on the bike. Take shade breaks, get in water, sprinklers, pour cold water into your helmet and on your back!


Sunflower, July 17, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Get your google-foo on and find every municipal pool on the route. Do not pass one. Stop and sit in the water until your core temp is down. I pulled a trailer/w child across Iowa three times and this made all the difference in the world for both of us.


isuannie, July 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm

I, too, have an issue over heating. I use a camelback to ensure I always have a lot of water easily accessible. The other major change I made was to buy a more breathable helmet. The bottom-of-the-line big-box helmet was just trapping heat around my head; I switched to the Giro Atmos II and can’t say enough good things. Thirdly, constantly reapplying (every hour) sunscreen helps keep me from absorbing heat.

I have to say, while I haven’t done it myself, I did notice when I was in Arizona this summer, the people out in the heat doing athletic activities were all wearing sleeves, I assume some kind of equivalent to Under Armour Heat Gear… might be worth looking into.


mootsman, July 18, 2017 at 8:04 am

No one can tell for sure the specifics of your issue. It sounds like your drinking the right fluids and getting enough of them. Just make sure not to wait until your thirsty to start replenishing them.

One question is if your system is absorbing the fluids as quickly as it should? I found that I would get a sloshing in my stomach as the fluids were not being absorbed quickly enough. That I prevented by NOT eating any heavy proteins or dairy during the ride. The chewed meat or dairy would mix with the fluid so my stomach now had to digest the food to get the fluid out of it. The only eating I do during the ride are the non-dairy fruit smoothies (strawberry & banana). And some very well chewed potato chips if I have the urge for salt (Na & Cl, 2 electrolytes plus potassium). These replenish my energy without preventing the fluids from being absorbed quickly.

And take breaks in the shade when possible.


ratscallion, July 18, 2017 at 9:34 am

Adaptation and hydration are the keys. Getting prepared for heat is not just a one-day thing, it’s a process that takes a month or more of training to acclimate your body to operate in the heat. Similar to training of your lungs and muscles to adapt to the stress of pedaling a bike, you will need to get your body adapted and ready to be physically active in the heat. You can start by setting the air conditioner in your car and home at a higher temperatures like 78-81 degrees. Sure, you’ll feel a little uncomfortable at first, but just like any other physical training, no pain no gain. After a few weeks, you might notice changes, like walking into an air conditioned store on a hot day and it feels uncomfortably cold. If overweight…well, work on losing some of the extra weight. The better shape you are in… you will find you require less water, sweat less, and will be more comfortable riding in the heat.

Know that Gatorade, soda pop, and sugary drinks just don’t quench thirst or hydrate like water with electrolytes. Your body will need to sweat way more water when physically active in the heat. As your body absorbs the water from Gatorade it leaves behind a syrupy goop of Gatorade sugar concentrate in your stomach, and excessive sugar won’t settle right in your stomach. I view Gatorade more as nutrition (calories), not hydration. Your body can only digest about 100 calories an hour (at best) so look at the Gatorade bottle and see how much that is… Over nutrition slows uptake of water and can also give you a belly ache. If you are drinking Gatorade and eating even more food, then your stomach retains extra water for digestion and this slows absorption of water. The simple carbohydrates in Gatorade are also poor nutrition for endurance… If you eat carbs I recommend fueling with complex carbohydrates (usually maltodextrin ingredient). Cytomax is one drink mix I’ve used in the past. Better still would be half a Cliff bar an hour with water and electrolytes. Just don’t mix food along with a carb drink too because it kills water absorption.

I suggest water with electrolytes. I am in very good shape and heat acclimated to about 101 degrees. As example of my routine, I begin my hydration sometimes two days before, but at the very least the night before. I drink a quart of water in the morning, noon, and at bedtime. If I know I’ll be in heat or climbing hills I’ll drink a coconut water the night before a ride (natural source of sodium/potassium). I also avoid alcohol because it dehydrates. While riding I drink plain water (adding ice is great for the heat) or water with electrolyte fizzy tablets (Nuun is good). While riding, I dring 1-3 bottles an hour (22oz each) depending on heat and exertion. I take Hammer Endurolyte capsules, 2 in the morning and about 1 every hour.


prince page, July 18, 2017 at 8:17 pm

there’s no special remedy. just try to hydrate really well before nyou ride. some folks can’t take the heat. maybe your one of them. i know some folks change as they get older. they just can’t take the heat anymore. sorry it is what it is.


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