We in Chicago are living under a Heat Advisory today which possibly will extend for the rest of the week. As a guy who wants to ride his bike every day possible, that is not good news.
This is what the National Weather Service says:
A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT WEATHER IS EXPECTED. HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DURING VERY HOT WEATHER IT IS CRITICAL TO STAY HYDRATED BY DRINKING PLENTY OF WATER. IN ADDITION CHECK UP ON RELATIVES… ELDERLY AND NEIGHBORS.
TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS… IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. WHEN POSSIBLE… RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY MORNING OR EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTING CLOTHING WHEN POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
I am a senior citizen who is in pretty good physical condition. I asked my doctor about riding my bicycle during a heat advisory. She said that I shouldn’t do it and that she tells the same thing to her 40-year old patients.
This was my workaround. I got up around 4:30-5:00 AM which is usual. I loaded the Wall Street Journal onto my iPad and fixed my breakfast smoothie. Instead of dog-walking clothes, I put on cycling stuff. Usually poochie gets up between 6:00 and 8:00 AM and that’s when I walk her. I figured if she got up before I finished drinking my smoothie, I would take her for a fast walk and then we would ride the bike. If she slept in, I would ride without her and walk her when I got back. As it turned out, she came into the kitchen while I was making my smoothie. So much for riding without her. I took her out for a normal walk around 6:00 AM. The temperature was already in the high 70s with humidity to match. I was sweating by the time we returned home.
We were on the bike by 6:45 AM. There was a bit of a breeze. In addition, I brought a bandanna which I had soaked in cold water. I kept that in the bike’s basket. Although the temperature was nearly 80 at 7:00 AM, I often ride in 80 degree weather. It just usually isn’t that early in the morning, so I wasn’t too worried about the heat. In addition, my bike route is flexible enough that I rode a good portion in shade as opposed to sun. I ride along the lakefront and the sun was still making long shadows at that hour.
I normally stop every 30 to 45 minutes to let poochie off the bike for some rest, etc. I cut that to 30 minute intervals today. I always give her water when we stop and, of course, I drink water, too.
The wet bandanna was a big help. I used it to wipe my arms, neck and face at stops to lower my body temp. Although I had made the bandanna wet with cold water, it had warmed somewhat. On the other hand, it was still cooler than my body so it did cool me down slightly. When we finished our rest stop, I also poured the water from Gabi’s bowl over my arms.
The ride lasted just under two hours, including stops, and I managed to get 20 miles in before 9:30 AM.
When I arrived back home, the temperature was up in the 80s and I’m sure the sensible temperature was higher than that.
For some further suggestions on dealing with extreme heat, check out How to Beat the Heat and Hydration – Cool, Clear Water. What are danger signs during hot weather exercise?, How dangerous is it to exercise outdoors in a heat wave?, What about bike riding during a heat advisory?, What to do about exercise in very hot weather?, How to beat the heat?, What is a Spray Mist Bottle?
Lastly, when I returned, I cut up a quarter of a watermelon and ate it to rehydrate myself after the ride. Check out How Healthy is Watermelon for the full nutritional benefits of watermelon. I am fortunate enough to live near a grocer who gets watermelons from Mexico in the winter. I have an eighth to a quarter of a watermelon when I come home from every bike ride. It is a great rehydrator.
I felt my morning workaround was a success and plan to do it the rest of the week. In the interest of full disclosure and because our blog is all about healthy living, I use SPF35 on my arms and legs and a Banana Boat SPF50 stick on my lips. Always use broad spectrum sunblock so it protects from both UVA and UVB rays. After showering, I rub aloe on my arms, legs and face to restore moisture.
I still have the option of working out in my air conditioned health club, too.
It is important to protect yourself in threatening weather, but it is also important to make sure that you get your exercise and don’t use the weather as an excuse for blowing it off.