Author Topic: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity  (Read 5989 times)

etselec

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Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« on: July 19, 2013, 09:23:00 AM »
So, I've been rocking the bike commute and this week has the potential to become my first perfect-record week - five days, both ways - if I ride home tonight. I love how much more energized I feel, the exercise I'm getting, the money I'm saving, and the general badassity that accompanies a bike commute.

I'm here for some reinforcement/reality check, because we're in the midst of a heat wave here in the Northeast (go on, Southerners, laugh all you like). I biked in to work this morning and my usually-reasonable coworker tells me I'm crazy to do so in this heat (90-ish degrees, 70% humidity) because it is a health risk. Going home this evening will be more like 100-ish degrees and similar humidity, so tell me, Mustachians - biking in 110-heat-index weather - stupid and risky, or badass? I am young, healthy in all the relevant ways, and my commute is just under 5 city miles. My instincts are telling me it's fine, but is there some danger I'm overlooking?

Villanelle

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 09:26:32 AM »
Just being in the heat is not a health risk. Overheating is a health risk.  If you take the necessary precautions, you should be fine.  You know better than anyone what your heat tolerance is.  Don't push yourself, for the sake of bad-assity, beyond what you know to be your limits, but it sounds like you are being pretty logical about it.

Wear clothing that allows your body to cool efficiently, have lots of water (cold, if possible), and if all else fails and you start feeling uncomfortably hot, stop and give your body a chance to cool down in the shade for 10 minutes. 

DocLago

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 09:29:13 AM »
Before joining the military I used to live in phoenix AZ.  120 degrees in the summer.  I would play football in that weather.  Currently I live in Georgia. 100 degrees 90-110% humidity.  I run in that weather.

The reason I say this isn't to stroke anything.  Weather is an issue.  it's a very important one.  As a medic I have to watch my guys constantly out in the field to make sure they're doing well.  The things you need to worry bout most are hydration and salt intake.  Both will make and break exertion in hot climates.  As long as you keep yourself hydrated a 5 mile bike ride is nothing to worry about.  But that involves a lot of drinking of water.

A couple of things to worry about when you ride:  Sweat, sweat is good, if you stop sweating take a break.  Cramps, not good.  Blurred vision, headache, muscle pain etc.  Just monitor yourself and you'll be fine.  Worst case, take a break.

frompa

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 09:47:33 AM »
Ditto what the other responders have said.  I also live in the NE and the heat is simply July.  I rode to work every day this week, and I have often taken week+ long rides in the height of the summer heat.  Though I don't like heat generally, when I'm riding, it's quite pleasant and manageable as long as you drink constantly before you are thirsty, take breaks when you need to, and make sure you get enough salt.  And eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.  (God, I sound like your mother!!)  For those of us who bike, I think we get the comments that we do because others are all listening to the news hysteria about the weather.  Based on long experience, I say, Meh. It's July. It's hot.  No big deal as long as you listen to your body.  Congrats on the perfect biking week.

mrpress

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 10:00:18 AM »
For those of us who bike, I think we get the comments that we do because others are all listening to the news hysteria about the weather.
Ha, yep! The news is freaking out here too because it's hot. It gets hot every summer. Just stay hydrated and listen to your body and you'll be fine!

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 10:07:58 AM »
It can be dangerous if you don't normally do it and then decide to go on a 100 km trip at noon one day.  That's what the news casters get all excited about.  If you're out in hot temperatures on a regular basis, your body actually adapts to warmer temperatures (the same is true of colder temperatures) in a couple weeks.  As a heat adapted person, your blood will thin, you will sweat more, and your blood vessels will dilate differently.  There's a good article about it here:  http://www.ismj.com/default.asp?pageID=854255817%20-%2029/03/2006%20-%20Rank:0

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 10:09:58 AM »
Pre-game for your ride home and drink water throughout the day. I hate this fucking heat and humidity, so I think it's awesome that you're committed enough to ride in it, but take it easy and don't try to break any time records today.

zhelud

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2013, 10:35:21 AM »
I live in the DC area which is having a heat wave this week, and I haven't ridden my bike to work since Monday.  I have found through experience that when I ride home and it's over 95 degrees, I get an awful headache no matter how much water I drink before and during. Hopefully I will be able to ride again on Monday.
It is up to each individual to decide when weather conditions are too bad to ride- no need to prove anything to anyone.

Cinder

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2013, 10:40:43 AM »
Pre-game for your ride home and drink water throughout the day. I hate this fucking heat and humidity, so I think it's awesome that you're committed enough to ride in it, but take it easy and don't try to break any time records today.

Second that advice.  I'm in central PA, and my wife is always like 'take it easy on the ride home today, heat index... blah blah'.  I drink water constantly though-out the day, and I have a 50 oz camelbak that I reload with cold water before I leave.  Constant, small sips the whole way and I don't notice the heat.  Infact, I usually feel cooler then I would when riding in the winter with several layers on!

Side story, there was a point where every radio and TV station was saying 'don't go outside if you don't have to!' due to temps, humidity and heat index when I was in highschool.  My brother and I spent two days reapplying aluminum fiber coat to the roof of my dad's office.  We took our t-shirts, soaked them in water, tied the arms behind our heads and flopped the 'body of the shirt over our head and partway down our back.  Shirt got dry, go down, rewet the shirt and get a drink.

If you prepare for it, it's not any worse then riding at any other time.

ChoicesChoices

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2013, 10:45:59 AM »
Thanks for posting!  I've had to make similar choices this week with the heat (and no humidity).  I'm fairly driven and would especially be lured by the concept of a "perfect week".  There's where I get caught in my own net.  My question is, if it wasn't the last leg of your first "perfect week", would you do it?  The fact is there are plenty of those perfect weeks ahead in you future, clearly.

All the other postings here were spot on.

Congratulations on your bike commuting!!! 

PS: I chose out of by bike commute today because of wildfire smoke in our valley today. yuk!  :(

NinetyFour

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2013, 10:51:44 AM »
I would encourage you to do the bike ride home.  I think you will be fine.  If you have access to ice and a bandana, fill the bandana with ice, wrap it up and tie it around your neck.  So refreshing!!  Your shirt will get wet, but I would assume that's OK with you.  Let us know how it turns out!

DanBrewMan

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2013, 11:01:18 AM »
I live in Texas.

In regards to your post: Hahahaha

Sorry couldn't resist.  But seriously you'll be fine.  Just stay hydrated an take a towel with you to wipe off that sweat.

velocistar237

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2013, 11:02:19 AM »
If you're out in hot temperatures on a regular basis, your body actually adapts to warmer temperatures (the same is true of colder temperatures) in a couple weeks.  As a heat adapted person, your blood will thin, you will sweat more, and your blood vessels will dilate differently.  There's a good article about it here:  http://www.ismj.com/default.asp?pageID=854255817%20-%2029/03/2006%20-%20Rank:0

I was going to mention adaptation, too. Here are some MMM links.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/14/the-worlds-most-efficient-air-conditioner/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/07/18/how-not-to-use-your-air-conditioning/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/continue-the-blog-conversation/heat-acclimatization/

The thermostat on my office wall reads 71 degF. I started to get cold, and now I'm wearing a light jacket. Time to go outside for a walk.

Katnina

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2013, 11:16:02 AM »
Stay hydrated, bring lots of water & try to ride in the shade if you can!  Don't push yourself if you feel tired-rest or just ride at a leisurely pace.
I've found it more comfortable to bike in the heat when I'm wearing something like this: http://www.caddisflyshop.com/pasush.html. As opposed to a tank top where my arms are exposed to the sun.  It's uber breathable & keeps me from getting sunburned.  But don't try layering it over other clothes-then it's way too hot!

mpbaker22

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2013, 11:39:25 AM »
I did two days this week.  Both days had rides home at 13 miles (road bike) in ~95 degrees and ~50% humidity which amounts to ~105 degree heat index.  I drank one 20 oz water on the way in, 3-5 more at work, 1 gatorade at work prior to the ride home, 2 gatorades on the way home, 3 waters between home and bed.  In total, that's 200 ounces of fluids, which is about 3 times the silly recommendation based on the typical lifestyle.

My point - stay as hydrated as possible (it can be over-done, but it's much easier to not have enough than too much).  If you're young, health, and have done this before, you should be fine.

I get similar comments from my co-workers; even some offers for a lift home.  They just don't understand that I would be out there riding anyway, I just do it as a commute because it wastes less time.

I did NOT ride in today as I am leaving from work to go visit family 150 miles away.  Good luck!

mpbaker22

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2013, 11:42:51 AM »
I rode once in 107 degree heat (probably 120 heat index) just to see what it felt like.  I ended up stopping under a tree and pouring gatorade on my head before scampering back to the air conditioning.  Do use common sense.  However, there is no need to worry unless you have 0 water remaining.

etselec

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2013, 12:21:42 PM »
Thanks everyone for the tips! Much appreciated.

I think I'm going to go for it. The tipping point for me was checking yesterday's temperatures - apparently it was ~95 degrees during my ride home, and I felt fine. I will drink plenty of water, actually bring some with me in case I need it (which I usually don't, as the ride is only 40 minutes), and I always have the option to stop and rest, or hop on a bus the rest of the way home.

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2013, 12:49:15 PM »
If you have access to a 'fridge with a freezer at work, freeze your water bottle with water in it beforehand.  Cool water cools you down quickly!

hybrid

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Re: Biking in the heat - badassity vs. stupidity
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2013, 02:09:53 PM »
I can't emphasize the hydration enough whether you are riding or not in this weather.  There is absolutely nothing badass about kidney stones, and dehydration is a contributing factor (ERs get more patients with kidney stones in the summer than any other time of year according to the doc who treated me).  I've had two in the past two years and have learned my lesson.  Water, water, and more water.