When is it too hot to ride?

When is it too hot to ride?

  • 90º F

    Votes: 4 11.4%
  • 95º F

    Votes: 3 8.6%
  • 100º F

    Votes: 5 14.3%
  • 105º F

    Votes: 1 2.9%
  • Its never too hot to ride

    Votes: 3 8.6%
  • 85º F. I'm a heat weenie

    Votes: 7 20.0%
  • In true fashion on a forum...It's complicated

    Votes: 12 34.3%

  • Total voters
    35

Rudi Riet

AKA songfta AKA randomduck - a USSS coach, as well
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Loving this dialogue - really! Emphases below are mine.

We're not that different.

None of us can drink and absorb 3 liters of fluid per hour. But we can all lose it faster than 2l/hour. None of us can ingest 400kcal/hr of carbs without an IV drip. But we can burn it faster. So we all need both protein and fat on 2hour+ rides. We are also none of us efficient at digesting proteins. And that inefficiency results in - bad core cooling.

So am I telling anyone to change their diet? Or am I telling them to not ride, particularly if they are required to ingest protein, particularly if they don't carry a giant tub of ice water to cool themselves as they digest that protein?
Some of us are more efficient at digesting and metabolizing proteins than others. Yes, the differences are relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but they are there. For those of us who are more efficient at metabolizing proteins than carbs (note: it's typically complex carbs that cause issue with me, rather than simple ones) we learn to handle core cooling.

I know that I need to increase my water intake all the time as I'm a heavy sweat machine (there's a reason I opted for the third set of bottle bosses on my Moots). I prefer that liquid to be cold on really hot days in order to account for core cooling.

Sometimes I'm out on long rides when it's stupid hot and I need to adapt. I recall overheating once in the first year of the Garrett County Gran Fondo, a year when miles 85-105 of the 125+ mile course were bathed in 90-92°F heat with a dew point above 70°F. The organizers hadn't planned water stops properly this year, and between Westernport and Deer Park there were three long, drawn out climbs with a lot of sun exposure.

I ran out of water around mile 90 because it was so hot and I was trying to keep my core cool (I'd left Westernport with two full 28 ounce bidons). Luckily, the organizers announced that there was a Deer Park (the bottled water company) spring spigot around mile 95, a community landmark where locals fill bottles of their cold spring water.

That place was an oasis to me! The spigot was placed around 1.5 meters above the ground, so it was possible to get your head under the water. I spent at least 4 minutes under the tap to cool myself off. I was not alone in this regard. I ended up drinking at least two bidons at that stop (one plain water, one with diluted Hammer HEED) and felt like a new man.

Note that the following year, which was much cooler with spotty showers for the first half of the ride, I improved my time by over 2.5 hours. That's the difference between extreme heat and Goldilocks/unicorn conditions. And since then when I've done long-distance events in the heat, I've been better prepared.

The heat is the rock. The ride is the hard place. My easy logical takeaway is that, if your metabolism doesn't let you jump, don't do go there. And no matter how individual your metabolism is, your jump isn't comparable to a cricket's.

And there is no adapting to that, no matter how much time one spends at 85F.

But hey, go ahead, beat me down for not taking medical histories to know that you're a) not 10' tall, b) not skiing 60MP boots. We are all individual, sure.
The highlighted bit is spot on: know your body, know your limits.

Yes, there are absolute limits of what the human body can withstand - that's not in dispute. But saying "don't eat this or that" with broad brushstrokes isn't helpful. In real life when there's a goal of improving physical performance, the minutia matter. For some the advice to cut out proteins and fats will work like a charm. For others it won't.

What is indisputable: salts/electrolytes, hydration, and simple carbs are crucial for handling the heat. And if you want to be truly safe: stay where it's cool if you can.

All good, my friend.
 
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dan ross

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Fun ("fun") fact: if the dew point is over 80°F and the temperature is over 90°F it's above the level where the human body can cool. This year in DC we have had a couple days with dew points in the mid 70s and air temps in the 90s where it's been seriously dangerous for most people to be outside for any prolonged period of time. And these kinds of environmental conditions are going to become more regular going forward, with the zone of "ideal livability" moving further north.
Great and important point . Something like this was explained to me years ago when I was running in road races by older smarter runners. One guy I used to run with would always check the humidity/dew point on hotter days before he’d commit . Regardless of how fit and hydrated we are, there are biological limits in our ability to regulate our core temps. I lost an acquaintance about 5 years ago due to this. She was extremely fit, a former triathlete and an M.D.in her 40’s and she is sadly no longer with us.
 

cantunamunch

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Great and important point . Something like this was explained to me years ago when I was running in road races by older smarter runners. One guy I used to run with would always check the humidity/dew point on hotter days before he’d commit . Regardless of how fit and hydrated we are, there are biological limits in our ability to regulate our core temps. I lost an acquaintance about 5 years ago due to this. She was extremely fit, a former triathlete and an M.D.in her 40’s and she is sadly no longer with us.
There was a thing some years ago where guys were drinking glycerol for that reason.


I know that I need to increase my water intake all the time as I'm a heavy sweat machine (there's a reason I opted for the third set of bottle bosses on my Moots). I prefer that liquid to be cold on really hot days in order to account for core cooling.
You and me both - I need 1300ml/hr minimum.


Here's an individual thing for you: smooth muscle (gut) cramps. Triggered by cold drinks. Unbelievably painful.
 

Tom K.

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You and me both - I need 1300ml/hr minimum.
Yikes! It's commonly held in endurance racing circles that your body can assimilate about 800-1,000 mls/hour max.

This jibes with my endurance racing experience, as well as Scientific American's medical experts.

Endurance events are a war of attrition. The human body cannot assimilate the water and calories it burns, since it's easy to sweat more than a liter per hour in the right (wrong?) circumstances, and it's easy to burn far more than 300 or so calories per hour.

Stay cool, everybody!
 

cantunamunch

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Yikes! It's commonly held in endurance racing circles that your body can assimilate about 800-1,000 mls/hour max.

This jibes with my endurance racing experience, as well as Scientific American's medical experts.
One of the local inline skating race series had a day when we had a 10km and a 30minute +1. The 10K went off fine but whatever happened with the junior race meant the 30+1 didn't start until 4 hours later. 4 hours of maybe warming up - maybe not yet - on blazing hot asphalt. All the fluids and electrolytes and energy completely available and no real exertion - other than a 'warmup' lap or two whenever we actually thought we were about to start.

The crampfest when the mens adult finally started was off the charts. There were several guys who had obviously overcooked the electrolytes and -ahem- voided over the course. Not that I was much better, 6-7lbs down on water weight but nauseous with a full bladder and raging mouth thirst both, yet completely unable to get anything else down. Endurance, heh. I'm sure none of us had so much as 40mi in the legs by the end.
 
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John Webb

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skibob

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New definition of hell.
Lytton BC set the all time hottest temperature records in Canada 3 days in a row. 115, 118 and 121

Now much of the town caught fire and has been evacuated.
I went through there on the Rocky Mountaineer in 2018. Lovely little town. :-(
 

David

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For me it's not about the temperature alone. I've been fine at 130° (temp on blacktop) with 5% humidity in the desert and struggled at 80° with 90% humidity in the midwest. Humidity will take my energy long before temperature will.
 

skibob

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There wasn't a low enough temp on the poll for me. 85* is blisteringly hot for this Alaskan.

Since I don't have a ton of experience with heat, I tend to take it really careful and try my best to avoid riding a ton if it's 80+ out.
Then, just out of curiosity, when is it too cold to ride? Or do ice and snow take over before you hit that point? Living in Sonoma County I am kind of spoiled. I don't ride if it is below 40 or above 90. But then I can ride every day with those criteria (just not every hour of the day).
 

firebanex

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@skibob uhh... I'll let you know when I find out. I keep riding my trail bike till it snows and then swap to the fat bike. Current personal low temp record for riding is -36, shifting and brakes don't really work at that temp. You aren't really going fast enough to care about shifting or brakes, because the faster you go the colder it gets. Last winter got cold FAST, I was riding in -30 in early November. I had to get used to it real quick and really get into the swing of things to keep riding.

Been commuting to work this summer and it's about 70* at 8am now, it's not bad until I stop at a light and start sweating. Thankfully there is a shower at work so I can be presentable. End of the the day it's about 80*, but my wife picks me up from work so I don't have to ride home. I'm spoiled.
 

Primoz

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Then, just out of curiosity, when is it too cold to ride?
That's exactly what I wanted to write :) For me it's never to hot to ride, but it definitely is to cold to ride. For me once it gets under +15c or so, and it gets wet and humid, it's time to put bike away and start to get ready for winter/autumn sports. It feels annoying going up sweating (even if it's under 10c) and then going down for 30min with wet clothes and in that cold. I know, I could bring backpack with me and change on top of hill, but I don't ride with backpack, ever, so that's not an option for me. When it get's under 15c when rain/wind jacket and arm/knee warmers in jersey pockets are not enough, it's time to do more trail running and it's time to start waiting for snow and skiing. :D
 

Tom K.

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Current personal low temp record for riding is -36
I hit -38 once at my FIL's place in Butte MT about a million years ago, but that was with one of those cheapo, round, spring thermometers, so take it with a grain of salt. Just 2 or 3 inches of bone dry powder on frozen ground made it a beautiful, surreal experience (and not enough snow for xc skiing).

I've got a pic of me holding the thermometer somewhere, but it hasn't shown its face yet, after our recent move.
 

skibob

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That's exactly what I wanted to write :) For me it's never to hot to ride, but it definitely is to cold to ride. For me once it gets under +15c or so, and it gets wet and humid, it's time to put bike away and start to get ready for winter/autumn sports. It feels annoying going up sweating (even if it's under 10c) and then going down for 30min with wet clothes and in that cold. I know, I could bring backpack with me and change on top of hill, but I don't ride with backpack, ever, so that's not an option for me. When it get's under 15c when rain/wind jacket and arm/knee warmers in jersey pockets are not enough, it's time to do more trail running and it's time to start waiting for snow and skiing. :D
When I was young and used to run, I would get bronchitis if I ran when it was much under 30F (I grew up in Indiana). Now that I am older, somehow my lungs are stronger. I don't ride under 40 because I don't have the proper gear for it nor the need to do it (because we have never had a high of the day below 40). But I would love to try a fat bike on snow. Its been on my list for years, but haven't achieved it yet. Will just dress for skiing when I do.
 

Monique

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There wasn't a low enough temp on the poll for me. 85* is blisteringly hot for this Alaskan.
This is also true for this Coloradan, and it's getting worse as I get older (I'm only mid 40s now). I rode 7 miles on my mountain bike yesterday, less than 1k feet of elevation change, mostly shaded. It was brutal for me, and that's with ice water in my pack and a jaunty water bead thingie on my neck. There is no such thing as a moderate HR ride for me; I figure my weight means I'm essentially wearing a 30# fur coat compared to most of the riders I see. It might have been 85* by the time my ride finished, and I had to stop frequently. I get this tingling sensation in my scalp when I'm overheating. Very weird. For me, the ideal riding temp is about 60*.
 

firebanex

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@skibob when you do get to fat bike on snow, dress like you are going to go XC skiing. If you dress for downhill, you are gonna overheat. Mind you I'm Alaskan, but my usual winter riding wear is a long sleeve Patagonia Capiline(?) mid weight and a Patagonia R1 Techface fleece till it's about 0*f, I add a windproof insulated vest to get me down to about -18f, then its over to a Black Diamond First Light puffy with the vest over it. Long as I'm on the bike, it's perfect for me.

I'm going riding mtb tomorrow after work, it'll be 80* but I really wanna ride. Got my salt stick tablets and a full hip pack of water ready to go!

I get tingling on my scalp too! but for me it's either sweat or mosquitos...
 

teejaywhy

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Us Zany Zonies need to be rolling at the crack of dawn to avoid the summer heat. Weekly rides of 30-40 miles, rolling at 5:30, done by 8AM. Creeping toward 100 by then. But it's a "dry heat!"
 

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