By Marion Rouxel, Sports Dietitian
Riding in the sun isn't easy and your body needs to adapt. The cyclist who is particularly exposed must be protected from the burning sun which can have serious consequences on the group. Here are some ground rules for cycling serenely this summer.
During exercise, your body temperature increases and in order to limit this 'pressure-cooker' effect, the body eliminates heat through sweating. This ensures thermotaxis, meaning the body's capacity to maintain a constant temperature. In very hot weather the body can lose up to 2 to 3 litres of sweat, and consequently a considerable loss of water and minerals, which has to be made up for in order to avoid dehydration and cramps. If accustomed progressively, our body increases its thermotaxis capacity which is why it's essential to get used to the heat during training, not necessarily riding during the hottest part of the day. Before a race, a gentle warm-up including 2 to 3 sprints of 30 seconds allows the body to get used to the external temperature.
Drink to ride more efficiently
Water loss of 2% of your body weight leads to a 20% drop in your ability. Dehydration of more than 4% can reduce your ability by almost 40%*. Thirst being the sign that dehydration has started means that you mustn't wait to be thirsty to drink. Ideally you should drink in proportion to sweat loss, which can be calculated by weighing yourself before and after a race. Each kilo lost corresponds to one litre of water eliminated.
A good strategy consists of drinking 1 to 2 mouthfuls of HYDRIXIR ANTIOXYDANT every 5 minutes, right from the beginning of an effort. By doing so, you'll be providing your body with the vitamins, minerals and energy required for your body and muscles to function correctly. In these conditions, take 2 bottle holders on your bike and choose the 0,8L bottles: one containing HYDRIXIR ANTIOXYDANT, and in the other water to sprinkle on your face, the nape of the neck and legs. Remember not to dilute HYDRIXIR ANTIOXYDANT in icy water, your stomach won't appreciate great differences in temperature.
If you take part in a cyclosportive : stop for a moment at a food station to fill up on water and the HYDRIXIR drink. It's better to lose 2 minutes stocking up than 10 or 15 zigzagging in the bends, dried out and exhausted by the sun.
Get equipped and avoid heat stroke
Certain precautions must be taken before going off to ride in the heat, particularly in terms of equipment. Opt for light, technical clothes specifically created to eliminate sweat and choose light colours. Your helmet must be well ventilated. Shoes mustn't be too tight and socks should be thin and light to eliminate sweat. Don't leave without water resistant and smooth sun cream, as it won't be as greasy and sticky. Finally, remember to take your sunglasses, especially if you're planning to go out in the mountains.
The right dietIn hot weather, it's possible to decrease the dose of HYDRIXIR ANTIOXYDANT : 2 level spoonfuls in a 0,6L bottle or 3 level spoonfuls in a 0,8L bottle (instead of 3 to 4 spoonfuls recommended respectively for the 0,6L and 0,8L bottles). You can also take an OVERSTIM.s GEL every 45 minutes. In order to avoid sugar saturation, opt for tomato flavour SAVOURY HYDRIXIR, Bitter tonic HYDRIXIR (with a slightly bitter taste), mint or mint and liquorice (with a fresh taste). If your stomach starts to feel empty, the SAVOURY BAR provides energy and a moist texture while at the same time stopping sugar saturation. By following this advice, you can leave well enough advised to avoid the heat trap !