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    How can I handle the heat?  
    Nearly as important as training for the hills is training for the HEAT (training for a little rain probably wouldn't hurt either). Over the years, at least on the hot days, we've seen nearly as many people laid low by heat-related difficulties as by hills; put the combination together and it's close to lethal. Many people avoid the hottest part of the day for their training rides, but you can learn to tolerate riding in the heat and it's not a bad idea to at least see how your body responds to extreme temperatures - some people seem less subject to distress in the heat, some are used to it because of where they live.

What I've found to work to get through a killer hot day is to slow my pace - the effect of any exertion seems amplified once the temp gets above 95 or so (Summers here in Southern Oregon are HOT, we sometimes ride when it's over 100, so 95 degrees may feel extreme to someone from say, SF Bay Area), so not exerting, keeping an easy spin, may get you to camp faster in the long run. No annoying stops at the ambulances to get an IV for re-hydration.

And yes, HYDRATION. Practice drinking frequently, and then practice some more. Only a few times, in the early Cycle Oregons, has there been a lack of water; no excuse these days to run out or become dehydrated. I even drank some of that neon-colored sports drink last year, as insurance. Water taken internally does more good than water applied externally, but if there's a way to wet down or hose off, take advantage. If you're getting cramping, you're dehydrated. If your attitude or mental processes suddenly deteriorate, that can be a sign too.

It's a nuisance to get out of the tent at night, but if you have to at least once, it's a good sign that you're keeping up adequate fluid intake.

Remember though, beer may be a carbohydrate, but alcohol also DE-hydrates.

Jeanne Gostnell

OH YES - The heat/humidity in the Midwest is much more difficult to ride in than anything we have here in Oregon. So you guys out there in the plains and hills have my "all due respect" for what you train in. Geezs - I can't even imagine riding all day in the New Orleans area. The winds are your hill/mountain training and the heat/humidity builds your tolerance.

I use a couple of things that have helped me a lot while riding in the intense heat. You know those kerchiefs that are usually sold at the County Fairs. They are filled with a gel type of stuff that holds water. (The floral shops use it with fresh cut flowers.) I put one of those in a water bottle at night, by morning it's filled-up and ready to use around my neck. Yes, it makes a BIG difference, it cools the blood near the surface of your neck coming and going from the brain.

The other thing I use is a third water bottle so I can pour water on ME while I ride. It also makes a difference and is worth the extra weight you pack.

Just remember when you’re out there all alone, DON'T STOP or you'll become prime targets for those hungry Turkey Buzzards that are circling above your head.

Capt. Dink ~

Some CamelBaks are called 'IceBaks'. With them you can remove the insulated inside panel so you have the cold water pack against your back. With lots of ice cubes this is said to lower your body temp. Of course the H2O warms up faster.


You can digest a 20 oz. water bottle of water or sports drink every half hour. Go for it! If you don't like sports drink just drink water and eat the sports bars or gel and you will be fine.

Rox Heath

The day time temps can range from 70 to 90 and the night time temps can range from about 25 to 35. These temps will depend on cloud cover and altitude. The roads should all be paved and appropriate for road bikes. In the past when there was a non-paved section it was gravel and generally a short distance.

Ron Howden

Before you completely rule it out consider just what Ron said about the temp range. Its not really hot till the latter part of the afternoon (if at all). Also I do not know what kind of humidity you deal with up there but this is high desert where the air is quite a bit drier than what we have here west of the Cascades.

In other words except for the obligatory post lunch no wind climbs they seem to find for us every day ;-) its really not as bad as you might fear.

I hate the heat, but I've done four of these and the worst part about the heat I can recall is setting up the tent in the afternoon sun.

Don "all you do is ride between meals" Bolton

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I too have trouble with heat and last year's CO [CO 11] concerned me a lot. Here is what I did to get ready for CO 12 (and it has worked well for me even towards 100 degrees):

You can train your body to accept higher heat. Simply wear a lot more clothes than normal the last month. This is commonly done by athletes training for an event in a higher temperature area. Try not to use air conditioning or fans. Remember that this will make you feel the cool nights and mornings more so bring a little extra in clothes for layering.

I also kept my hair long through the summer and got it cut very short and thinned the week before CO.

Remember to drink a lot - a hydration system such as a Camelback REALLY helps. You will consume a lot more liquid with one and that will keep you stronger.

Wear white (or light colors). If you wear a cotton T-shirt you can dowse your front and arms periodically with water. The cotton will absorb the water and as it dries it cools you. Nylon jerseys do not work as well for this. Bring along a small very lightweight water bottle for this. I tried dumping my Camelback over my head last year and it is not as effective. Your T-shirt will dry every hour or so and you just spray water on yourself again (even while you are riding). I also wet my hair every hour or so. Feels wonderful!!! You can also have waterfights and everybody cools down. I heard later some carry a very lightweight cup to dowse themselves at the water stops.

Use a good sunscreen (such as Bullfrog) that doesn't sweat off. These tend to give you a plastic skin feel, but they will help to keep you cooler (and un-burned.)

On day 3 of CO 12 I was ¾ of the way up the switchbacks (all in full sun, very hot) and stopped to admire the view. I suddenly realized that although I felt hot, my body was handling it well. Quite a nice feeling!

Rox Heath

I join the rest in saying please don't let the potential 90 d. temps get you down. I too am not a big fan of hot weather but for some reason the hot days we've had on past rides have never been that bad (selective memory, I suppose). Maybe because as you ride along the breeze you create is cooling, or maybe because those sneaky headwinds really do have a purpose. Don's comments about humidity are right on---if you've not spent a summer here in Oregon yet, you'll find it's really not a problem even west of the Cascades and in Central Oregon it will be very dry. Plus Rox's suggestions were all very good. You find yourself looking forward to getting doused with a squirtgun, even begging for it.

Don't forget that you are outside almost constantly (i.e., not in an artificially controlled atmosphere) for a week so I think the body adjusts to it. So don't deny yourself the experience of a lifetime just because of a little heat. It really is something you will never forget---this will be my 9th and I just can't imagine not doing it forever.

Candace Reed

I would hate to see you avoid this ride [CO 13] on the basis of weather.

As Don Bolton says, it really does not get hot until later in the day. In fact, if it is cool at night, the time to heat up can be quite long. So, if you are an early bird, you can often get out and arrive at the next overnight location before it gets really hot. Like Don says, the hottest part of the day always seems to occur when you are pitching your tent.

On CO-9 we traveled the area around Paisley and Silver Lake. That was one of the cooler CO's in the last nine, never getting very hot at all.

That said, it can get hot some years. However, to the early cyclist goes the cool.

Curt Coleman

I'll add one more idea for hot weather management. On hot days, I tie a soaking wet bandanna around my neck, and can re-wet at the frequent rest stops. Last year I found a neck item (maybe in Early Winters catalog) that has the water absorbing crystals inside, so it gets soaked in a baggie overnight, and is plump and cold most of the day. Also, one more plug for bike sandals, which most people admire but few buy. I never, repeat never, got the dreaded "hot feet" or blisters with my bike sandals, which I use with clipless pedals. Also, Karen, if you love to ride, you will be out there training during this summer , and that will help acclimate you to this climate. So don't write it off yet. It's the challenge, one crank at a time, on the tough days, be they hilly or hot. Pace yourself at your own comfort, let the hammerheads go ahead, and drink water and electrolytes til you gotta pee every stop.

You'll hear lots more about this as the summer heats up. You'll be in a river of people, so to speak, so you'll not feel alone.

Amy Ream

[Editor's note: Last summer a similar neck cooling bandana with crystals inside it that to that Amy describes was available from REI (expensive, several colors), WalMart, (cheaper, few colors), and booths at the Oregon State Fair (cheaper, MANY colors).]

Last year [CO 11] on day 2 (80+ miles, 90+ degrees and a bad hill in the morning) I got too hot. I realized this when I got to the last rest stop of the day and didn't have the dexterity necessary to open up a power bar and there was still another hill to go. I had gone through 9 bottles of water, but obviously that wasn't enough for me! So I sat around for a while until 8 other people showed up and decided to call it quits, too; and we all sagged in the last 12 miles. It felt more like a relief than a defeat! It was like we all knew we had done our best - kind of a party feeling.

However, later that evening I was hanging around the medical area trying to get word on when my hubby was due back to camp (he had gone into town with my son to get my son's ankle x-rayed) and the medics were talking about heat problems. I was complimented for having the sense to stop. They had been treating people for heat exhaustion and they had one guy who was so dehydrated that they had a lot of trouble even finding a vein to start the IV. As you can imagine they were not happy about people who push themselves to the point where they are endangering their health.

If you set very firm goals for CO will you stick to them no matter what? Will you still be able to reevaluate them based on your current physical condition when you are too hot and too tired to think? I think we need to watch out for this and keep some flexibility here.

Also, CO is your vacation. If you push yourself that hard will you enjoy it as much? And what about the next day - will you be able to ride and enjoy it, too?

Rox Heath

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > Touring Info > Cycling Concerns > Heat  

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