RBR Newsletter

RBR Readers Are Hot!

Do I have your attention? Yes, we may well be a good-looking group, but without a doubt we are hot when it comes to riding in some oppressive temperatures.

Last week’s Question of the Week asked, “What Are the Hottest Temps You Ride In?” The results surprised me, but in light of the following paragraph, maybe they shouldn’t have.

The month of June and the first half of this year both set global warm temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "There is almost no way that 2015 isn't going to be the warmest on record," said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden in a recent AP article.

The heat in Atlanta this summer has certainly followed that script. In June and July, we’ve had 37 days where the high temp reached at least 90 degrees (32C), and 26 of those days reached 100% humidity, with the typical daily average humidity in the 70% range. (But it’s a WET heat….) When I finished a ride earlier this week, it was 97F (36C), with a feels-like temp of 102. The humidity had dropped to a paltry 40%.

Looking at the poll results, though, I may have it easy! Here’s how you answered:

Over 100F (38C) degrees.
Over 90F (32C) degrees.
Over 80F (27C) degrees.
Over 70F (21C) degrees.

So for riders around the world – heat does not discriminate, and there seems to be plenty to go around – learning how to manage riding in the heat, and manage hydration, are absolute MUSTS to stay safe in the summer.

But as Coach John Hughes points out below, riding in the heat isn’t just a summer phenomenon. Your body is a veritable heat pump, and you can just as easily overheat on a cool day if you’re not careful. Still, it’s summer now in the Northern Hemisphere, so read on, and ride on – just do it safely.

--- John Marsh


Tactical Tips for Riding in the Heat

By Coach John Hughes

I live in Boulder, Colorado, and love climbing in the Rocky Mountains. So far this season I’ve pedaled up 17 climbs totaling 33,700 feet! The highest to this point is Loveland Pass at 11,990 feet. Summer temps can be in the 90s in Boulder.

While I don’t climb anywhere near as fast as the pros – in fact, my climbing these days reminds me of the loaded touring I did a couple decades ago in terms of my speed – I still get just as hot as the pros. And so do you!

Even if you ride in moderate conditions, heat can be an issue. A runner collapsed after a marathon with a body temperature of 105.3F (40.7C) when it was only 43F (6C) outside.

And the conditions some riders regularly face in the summer (like John Marsh mentioned above) can be brutally hot and humid. It takes knowledge and planning to best manage riding in those conditions.

Your Body, the Sun and Radiation are All Heat Sources

Most of the heat for an athlete comes from the rider’s own body, which is only 20 to 40% efficient. That means that only 20 to 40% of the energy that you get from eating goes into forward motion, and 60 to 80% produces heat. That’s why even in cool conditions overheating can be a problem.

When the sun is out, you also gain heat from direct radiation, as well as from radiation reflected from the pavement. You may also gain heat from radiation from the sun through diffuse clouds, so don’t ever skimp on the sunscreen just because it’s cloudy.

And, of course, when the sun is high in the sky, you’re at a higher risk of sunburn, and unprotected, repeated exposure to the sun can potentially lead to fatal melanoma. In Issue No. 672 we provided sunscreen tips; it’s a good idea to follow them.

I’ve developed my own system for dealing with both radiant heat and potential skin damage from the sun, which are especially serious problems at altitude. On a climb I wear an RBR jersey with a full-length zipper so that I can open it wide for maximum ventilation. Then at the top I put on a long-sleeve, white jersey to reduce the solar gain. My jersey from Boure is rated at UPF-28.

In my eArticle Cycling in the Heat, Part 1: Ride Management you can learn all about how to:

•      ride tactically in the heat

•      what to wear

•      what to eat on hot days

•      heat-related health conditions and how to avoid them, and

•      how to cool off if you overheat

The information-packed 20 pages are $4.99, and just $4.24 for our Premium members.

Regarding cooling off, a new study I’ve read finds that placing cold packs on the cheeks, palms and soles of the feet may be more effective than the traditional placement of cold packs on the skin over large blood vessels in the neck, groin and armpits. The new sites work so well because of the extensive microcirculation there.

When researching the topic of riding in the heat, I found so much helpful information about human performance in the heat that one eArticle wasn’t enough. So, in addition to Part 1, about how best to manage your heat riding, I focused the second eArticle on managing your hydration: Cycling in the Heat: Part 2 – Hydration Management.

Both Part 1 and Part 2 of the Cycling in the Heat series are available together in a cost-saving bundle.


Tour de France Wrap: A Strong Sky

By Coach Fred Matheny

Chris Froome's victory in the 2015 Tour de France was due, in large part, to the strength of his Sky Team. Of course, Froome had the acceleration to make a difference on the climbs (especially on Stage 10) and hold off Nairo Quintana just enough on the Alpe d'Huez, and the bike handling skills to stay safe on the technical descents.

Sky was arguably the strongest team, though, so Froome always had a phalanx of teammates to escort him through the dangers of the event.

But other teams were nearly as strong. The reason? They've adopted the key to Sky's success in recent years -- the idea of Marginal Gains.

Simply put, it's identifying all the areas of performance where tiny gains can be made. Come up with enough improvements, each contributing a small part of a percent, and the total gains become impressive.

One example: in previous years Sky riders were mocked for warming down on trainers after every stage. But this year nearly every team adopted this routine. In fact, many post-race TV interviews were conducted with riders gently spinning their legs.

So Marginal Gains has proven to be a powerful way to improve the performance of pro riders. But its effectiveness isn't limited to the pros. Recreational riders can find dozens of small improvements leading to big performance gains.

That's why I wrote the eArticle, Marginal Gains for Overall Performance Improvement.

It details how to identify areas of improvement in training, clothing, gear and nutrition as well as event-day preparation. In it you'll find small ways to improve that, taken together, will make you a more powerful and more prepared rider whether you're aiming for a Gran Fondo, a century or a Strava KOM.

Don't let Team Sky and other pros improve their riding while you languish on the sidelines for lack of information! Marginal Gains for Overall Performance Improvement is available in the RBR bookstore for only $4.99, $4.24 for our Premium Members.


Reinvention of the Water Bottle

If your bottle cages have been driving you nuts, a new take on this very old piece of equipment is on the way.

The company is called Fabric, and it specializes in what it calls “unique and world first cycling products.” This particular reinvention is called the “cageless water bottle.”

The system includes two 1.5g direct mounting studs that screw into the standard down tube and seat tube holes. The bottles feature “slots” that secure to the studs. Voila, no cage necessary. Here’s a link to the new product, which is slated to be available in September:

Of course, if you have zero issues with your bottle cages (I suspect most of us fall into this camp), then this is yet another “solution looking for a problem.” Sure, the clean, cageless look is nice. But being forced to use a proprietary bottle seems like a major shortcoming – especially if you should happen to forget your bottles when leaving on a ride.

But you be the judge. Check it out for yourself. Me, I’m sticking with the same cages I’ve had on my bike for years. So far, they haven’t bothered me a bit.



Our Next Premium Prize -- Selle Anatomica X Series Saddle

Selle Anatomica has agreed to provide one of its X Series Saddles as our next Premium Member Giveaway prize! The Selle Anatomic X Series Saddle (click to read our 4.5-star review), is a full-grain leather, Made in the USA saddle renowned for its looks and its long-distance comfort right out of the box.

Any new or renewing Premium Members between July 1 (when we gave away our last great prize) and September 30 are eligible for the drawing. We’ll announce the winner in the October 1 RBR Newsletter

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