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Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Posted: 27 January 2021 Tips & Tricks

Long shot of a khaki Surly Ogre against a large expanse of brick wall in the bright sunshine

You want to get out on your bike (you're training, you're meeting some friends, you're avoiding a home project, etc.) but the weather is a delightful shade of Hades. Should you go?

Let's review how to avoid heat-related illnesses, because dropping like a stone isn't a great way to end a ride.

A muppet of some description throwing his/her arms up against a background of fire. You know, that 'everything's fine' meme.
What a lovely day for a hills loop!

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the first sign of trouble, and happens when your body starts to have difficulty maintaining a healthy core temperature.

As your core temperature rises, your performance drops. This not only means that your training is going backwards but it's also when you start making mistakes, and the risk of having an accident increases.

So what are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?

  • Headache
  • Profuse sweating
  • Feeling faint
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden desire to read the comments on any cycling-related article

If you experience any of these, stop exercising, seek shade, and drink.

(No, not beer. Unless you're reading the comments.)

What happens if I ignore these symptoms?

Then you're on a slippery slope to heat stroke, which is life-threatening, particularly as you may not be aware of what's happening to you.

A bicycle engulfed in flames
Dude, don't take this the wrong way, but I think you're on fire.

Symptoms of heat stroke

If you:

  • are dizzy
  • experience nausea, cramps, or a headache
  • have stopped sweating (yes, you read that correctly), or
  • have hot, dry skin

...seek immediate medical attention.

Rather than heading out solo on a hot day, a riding buddy is a great idea. You can keep an eye on each other's condition while swapping stories about the muppet who almost took you down at Three Peaks.

A cyclist in a BMCR jersey, sitting on the ground and leaning against a car, his hat over his face.
Joe, displaying a distinct lack of beer

Attention mountain bikers

You're not immune to heat-related problems, either -- radial heat occurs off-road, too. (Ever wondered why the bowl at Eagle MTB Park feels like the seventh circle of hell in summer? Now you know why.)

Keep an eye on weather warnings

Always check the CFS website before heading out.

On total fire-ban days, mountain-biking is banned in all forestry reserves. This is a great excuse to stay inside and keep cool. If you can't go for more than an hour without touching your bike, maybe give it a clean instead.

Strava can wait

When it's hot, stay safe with these simple rules: keep out of the heat, keep your fluids up, take breaks when you need them, and don't try for a PB when you could fry an egg on the asphalt.

(And also try not to read the comments.)

A bicycle that looks like its wheels have melted onto the ground.
"I swear I only left it outside for five minutes."

What You Say

Just got home now after going the "long way home" and just wanted to let you know the Surly is back to form after the service you did today. The gears are changing without a hitch again, all bearings are running as smooth as silk again, and the wheels are true and tight. So thanks again…Andrew Graham
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