What About Bicycle Riding in a Heat Advisory?

Much of the nation is suffering under a heat advisory which includes the home town of this blog, Chicago.

The dangerous heat wave blamed for as many as 22 deaths spread into the eastern United States on Wednesday, extending its reach across nearly half the U.S. population, officials said.

About 141 million people in a 1 million-square-mile area were under heat advisories and warnings, according to Justin Kenney, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The National Weather Service said, “These triple-digit temperatures are forecast to remain in place across the eastern U.S. through Saturday before cooling off slightly to the mid-90s by Sunday.”

For folks like me who try to exercise every day, this advisory is extremely problematical. I want to exercise, but I don’t want to become a statistic. In an effort to beat the heat, I rode my bicycle very early every morning this week.

I wrote about my actions two days ago in trying to get in a bike ride early in the morning before the heat really got going. You can read the details here.

Yesterday was the second day of the heat advisory, but with some significant differences. When I walked the dog first thing in the morning, I noticed that the heat did not feel as oppressive as the day before. I didn’t come home sopping wet as I had previously. It turns out there was a lovely north wind blowing that provided a pleasant coolness to the air and was very helpful when I got out on the bike. It was possible to ride and enjoy a constant cooling from that north wind. I finished with an enjoyable 25 mile ride and came back home comfortably unlike the previous day when I barely managed 20 miles and was wiped out at the end of the ride.

The fascinating development occurred later in the day. By noon I had showered, walked the dog and fixed myself a lunch. I was watching a recording of the Tour De France stage that occurred earlier in the morning when I began to feel a little tired. Now, as I am retired, I can nap any time I feel like it and usually take one or two naps a week in the afternoons extending 20 to 40 minutes. I wake up refreshed and continue with my day. So, it was no surprise to me that I felt like a nap.

I lay down in my bed around 1:15 PM.

Here’s the interesting part. I didn’t wake up until 4:30 PM and I felt like it was the middle of the night. A three hour nap is an extreme rarity for me. I can’t remember the last time I took one. Was this a delayed result of riding the bike earlier? Keep in mind that when I rode, the heat was not at all intolerable like later in the day. Perhaps it was residual from my tiring ride of the previous day.

I have to assume that this nap was a result of the heat even though my body never sent me any fatigue messages during the early morning ride.

If any readers care to offer an insight into this, I would love to hear it. I pride myself on listening to my body and acting healthy in every way I can. I thought I had done so yesterday, too. The temp when I was riding didn’t exceed high 70’s F at most.

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 to do about exercise in very hot weather? How to beat the heat?

Remember: A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.

If you would like to read more about cycling and see some of the photos I shoot on my rides check out my new blog Willing Wheeling.



Filed under aging, Exercise, hot weather, life challenges, sleep

3 responses to “What About Bicycle Riding in a Heat Advisory?

  1. Pingback: How Dangerous is it to Exercise Outdoors in a Heat Wave? | Two Regular Guys Talking about Food, Exercise and Men's Health

  2. Eric

    I enjoy testing the limits of my body. Yesterday I went on a 30 mile ride in high gear not stopping for about 1.5 hours in 102 degree heat. Also enjoy winter biking as well to negative 30 degrees.

    Also went out during a tornado a few years ago.

    Just stay hydrated and everything will function and you’ll get the best workout ever.

    I try to bike 5-7 days a week 365 days a year.


    • Eric –

      Congrats on your splendid conditioning. That is a wonderful achievement.

      Testing the limits of your body is a good pursuit, and it follows on my mantra of use it or lose it, but I hope you aren’t doing it in a way that could be harmful.

      You don’t mention your age. I am guessing you are in your 20s. If you are over 40, please think twice about exercising in hot weather. It would be a shame if you suffered a heat ailment while exercising. Read How Dangerous is it to Exercise Outdoors in a Heat Wave for a physiological explanation of the risks you may be taking.

      As an older guy I feel obligated to mention a couple of well worn, but useful, cliches to you first, discretion is the better part of valor and second, pride goeth before the fall.



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