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Learn How To Keep Cool In The Texas Heat

Aug 17, 2007
If you love to ride your bike in Dallas, Houston or anywhere else in Texas, you'll ride in any weather - in the wind; in the rain; and, for your diehards, even in the snow. But it's certain that most of you have a really hard time riding in the heat.

Most individuals would rather ride in the summer than in other times of the year, and there are those who shy away from the heat and humidity that the summer months can bring. Here are some tips for staying cool while you ride:

Timing
o Timing is the key to life and summer bike riding isn't any different. Consider planning your ride for a time of day when the sun is not beating down on you or your bike. Typically, people who hate the heat and humidity can miss the majority of the sun by avoiding riding between 10 a.m. and late afternoon.

Location
o Choose a path to go bicycling where it's cooler. This is typically not the city streets or anyplace where there is a lot of traffic. The cars add to the heat and can make the air really awful to try to breathe in. You may want to choose a more rural route to ride your bike.

o This might actually mean that you transport your bike to the country before going for a ride. Similarly, riding in higher altitudes, such as a mountainous region, can bring you some much needed cooler air for your bike ride.

Clothing
o While you might hate Lycra for fashion reasons, wearing honest-to-gosh bike clothes can be a lifesaver in the summer. Wearing clothes that actually wick moisture away from your body can help keep you dry and prevent you from drowning in sweat. Now, do remember that the idea behind sweating is also to allow your body to cool. So, leave the sweat on your arms, legs and face for as long as is safe. Use the back of your gloves to clear your eyes if need be. But moisture in your groin area is a great way to add some saddle sore to your ride.

Hydration
o Staying well hydrated is key to a safe and pleasant riding experience in the heat. Have several water bottles filled with cold water, or even ice only, depending on the length of the ride. You will also want to know where you can replenish this water should you need to do so while riding. Never pass up an opportunity to refill empty bottles, particularly in the summer. Staying hydrated will not only keep you cool but will keep your body performing at peak power and efficiency.

o Also pay attention to preventing dehydration and knowing the signs and symptoms. Dehydration can occur in as little as thirty minutes of exercise, particularly in the heat. This is one of the symptoms of heat exhaustion, which causes an average of 452 deaths in the U.S. annually. Those numbers rise during heat waves.

o Signs of Dehydration:
Dizziness and light-headedness
Nausea and headaches
Muscle cramps
Increase in body temp (which can lead to heat exhaustion)

Here are other tips to avoiding dehydration:
- Drink beyond your thirst. Don't rely only on your thirst to tell you to drink. You need to drink before you get thirsty.
- Thirst is deceptive - quenching thirst doesn't completely replace lost fluids under extreme conditions.
- A good rule is to drink one water bottle (22 oz, 0.65L) of water or sports drink each hour while biking, for example, or 4 quarts (3.8L) a day.
- Drink frequently on your bike.
- Your urine should be clear or light colored - if it is dark or you're urinating less - you will need to drink more.
- Take frequent breaks, especially in the heat of summer.
- If you have to get up once in the middle of the night to urinate, you're probably staying well hydrated.

Be smart.
o Don't take unwise chances by riding on Ozone Action days or in conditions that are inhumane. Remember that even a minor illness can change how your body responds to heat. Know the signs of potential heat stroke and act accordingly should you feel ill while riding. A cell phone in your seat pack is never a bad idea either.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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