Beware the HEAT!



Beware the HEAT

Glen Oelrich
Assistant Lead Road Captain

Summer has arrived and with it the heat. Even though it is a “dry” heat, it still deserves a lot of respect and caution. The heat can quickly turn a pleasant ride into a very unpleasant ride if you are not prepared for and take the steps necessary to deal with the heat and prevent any of the heat-related illnesses from sunburn to heat exhaustion and, worse, heat stroke.

  I am going to address mostly heat exhaustion here. Some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion are: 

heavy sweating 
cold, pale, clammy skin
muscle cramps
tiredness or weakness

  If you notice any of these while riding, pull over. If at a stop, tell a Road Captain. The Road Captains will help you deal with the situation or get medical assistance if necessary. Heat exhaustion is a serious situation. The next step up is heat stroke – which is a very serious situation.

  So how do you prevent heat exhaustion.

  First, dress for the heat. This means long pants and long sleeve shirts. Shirts should be light weight, moisture wicking fabric. This will help prevent sunburn and the buildup of heat in the body and minimize the loss of water from the body. Above 93 degrees, the skin will absorb heat. The lightweight moisture wicking shirt will absorb your perspiration and help cool the body.

  Second, drink water – lots of water. At every stop as a minimum. If you are not having to go to the restroom at every stop, you are not drinking enough. Stay away from sugary drinks like soda.

  Third, use additional cooling items. Using a wet chamois or cloth around your neck will help. I use a “Frog Togg” which I bought at Walmart. It is a chamois material like those used to dry cars. Using a hydration vest works very well if used correctly. You should wear a light windbreaker over the hydration vest. The windbreaker must not have elastic at the wrist. You want the air to flow up the sleeves and out the neck. People may look at you funny for dressing that way on a hot day but believe me – it works. You will stay cool and the vest will still be somewhat moist at the next stop. Not wearing a covering over the hydration vest will defeat the purpose since the vest will dry out very quickly and become a warm jacket. Wearing a vented jacket will prolong the time the vest stays moist – by just a few minutes. Still not enough to help.

  Following these steps will enhance your summer riding experience and make it a safer experience. If you have any questions about riding in the heat, ask me or any of the other Road Captains. 

  Enjoy the summer.