How to beat the heat while recreating this summer
Some recent forecasts have called for it to hit 100 degrees, and although we didn’t attain triple digits, we’ve reached the upper 90s. And July is coming soon.
With temperatures like this, getting outside for a bike ride or hike definitely becomes a challenge. Fortunately, there are common-sense steps you can take to have an enjoyable ride or hike and not overheat.
1. Timing: Go early.
This seems obvious, but by early I mean at least 8 a.m. If you’re out on the trails by then, you can bike until 10, or even 11 a.m. if there’s a breeze, before things get too uncomfortable.
Sure it’s hard to get up that early on a Saturday, but when you’re back in an air-conditioned house by noon and it’s a toasty 98 outside, you’ll be glad you set that alarm clock.
2. Clothes: Wear cotton.
The point has been debated that even in the hottest of temperatures, moisture-wicking gear is best. I’ve found, however, that when the temperatures really start to rise, a light cotton T-shirt is the best thing around. It’s breathable, and once it’s wet from sweat I stay cooler all over.
Along the same lines, although I am never one to advocate skipping your “baggies” when mountain biking, this is the time to find the lightest pair of baggies that you can. I have a pair of hiking shorts that double as my baggies because they’re loose and lightweight.
3. Water/hydration: Put ice in your hydration reservoir.
To keep the water in my pack cooler I add a few ice cubes in it when I fill it in the morning. I also take along a few flavored electrolyte tablets. If I really start to feel overwhelmed by the high temperatures, plopping one of these in my hydration pack seems to help.
If you’re planning a long ride, take extra water. Three liters goes fast when it’s above 90 degrees outside. Fill an extra bottle for your bottle cage or throw a small half-liter Platypus water pack in your backpack just in case.
4. Trails: Pick trails that start with climbs.
If you can get all of your climbing done before the temperatures rise too much, you’ll have a much better time once it gets warm. Lion’s/Mack out in Loma or even Holy Cross at Lunch Loop are good for this reason. Almost all of the climbing is done at the beginning of the ride.
Try to also find trails that offer plenty of shade trees or rock overhangs, so when you stop to rest you can stop in the shade. Mary’s Loop has a few shady spots for stopping, as does Prime Cut at 18 Road. If all else fails, once July hits you can head up to Grand Mesa to bike where it’s much cooler.
5. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
According to webmd.com, heat stroke usually is preceded by heat exhaustion, but it can strike with no prior warning symptoms.
Although fainting might be the first sign, if you’re out in the heat for a prolonged period and you or a friend start to feel any of these symptoms, find shade and water immediately and call 911 right away:
■ Throbbing headache.
■ Dizziness and light-headedness.
■ Lack of sweating despite heat.
■ Red, hot and dry skin.
■ Muscle weakness or cramps.
■ Nausea and vomiting.
■ Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak.
■ Rapid, shallow breathing.
■ Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation or staggering.
It’s always a good idea when biking to make sure someone knows where you are or to go with a friend or two.
Remember to drink plenty of fluids, bike smart and most importantly this summer, get out!