Here in the North East, it's starting to hot up quite a bit. If not prepared, training and riding in the heat and humidity can wreck your day and potentially days to follow. Good news is that our bodies do adapt, but you must get out there and ride in the heat to realize these adaptations.
Here are some tips that can help you as you begin riding in the heat, and even after your body has experienced some positive adaptations.
1. Drink enough fluids during the day.
It is widely agreed upon that everyBODY needs a different amount of fluids per day, and many outside factors can impact this quantity. For me in the summer, I know I'm right around 6 quarts a day to make sure I'm in a good place.
I use a gallon jug of water at work to be sure that I'm taking in enough water. Sometimes trying to count bottles or glasses can be misleading, and it's better for the environment to refill. As I wrote, everybody has different hydration requirements but it's widely agreed upon that athletes need more water during hotter temperatures.
2. Drink enough during training and racing.
It's hot...you're going to sweat more. It's impossible to "stay ahead of it" as we often say, but you can minimize your losses.
3. Eat enough during the day and during rides.
The hotter weather sometimes suppresses your appetite, so watch your intake. It's important to keep your energy levels high as you may be increasing your volume and/or intensity as the days are longer and the weather is nicer.
Side note--check out this article: Lose Weight by Eating More
4. Take advantage of the neutral support in races and rides.
Stop at the aid stations, top off your bottles and/or hydration pack, dose yourself with some cool water, and get some calories if the duration warrants. Just do watch your time at an aid station if you're in a competitive event. It's not a smorgasbord...go into it with a plan of what you're going to grab, grab it, and get out.
5. Stop on a training ride to refill.
You can often find delis and the like that will gladly refill your bottles with another purchase. I'll often bring a little pack of drink mix with me on long rides to help with the taste of tap water. If you live in super hot areas like Flagstaff, AZ, there will be coolers of ice cold water outside of each restaurant--it's the law apparently! No matter what, carry some cash (some small shops still have a minimum purchase for credit cards) and fill up. Again, you can be efficient and not lose too much time.
I've also been wearing my hydration pack more frequently on my longer rides so I can avoid stopping during these past couple of years.
6. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
This should be the case year round, of course, but the summer offers us some great treats. Watermelon is very high in potassium, one of our essential electrolytes. And the water content of most fruits and vegetables is very high and will serve your body well.
7. Keep tabs on your sodium intake.
Since I mentioned electrolytes, make sure you're taking in enough of the electrolyte that is lost in the greatest quantity in our sweat: sodium. Check out this great article:
Are you getting enough electrolytes?
8. Cool yourself during and after workouts.
The recovery process is sped up the faster you can cool your core. It's also great for the joints and muscles. A cold shower, or a sit in a cold stream can do wonders. The stream idea can be used mid-ride, too. If you have access to a cold plunge, that's the DEAL! I've found these techniques to be VERY effective.
9. Apply lotion and sun screen.
If your body's resources are being used to heal damaged skin, it's less energy that you can spend on repairing the damage done by racing and training.
10. Eat foods that agree with you.
Find those trigger foods and avoid them when in the height of training and racing. Again, if your body doesn't digest well, it can't use those resources and nutrients for your cycling goals.
11. Take time for yourself.
Training in general takes its toll on our bodies, and riding in challenging weather conditions can take us into even further deficit. Try to eliminate stress as much as possible and take a little time for yourself each day. Just sit and be calm, even if for just a few minutes. You can't add hours in the day, and stressing over not being able to train like you want won't change anything.
12. Keep smiling and have fun!
Remember why we ultimately all do our great sport!
Work hard and enjoy!
The Early Morning Convert
Starting in my late teens, I typically had a very difficult time waking up in the morning. Of course, having a full time job as a high school teacher and a passion for racing helped me to overcome that issue, but until my mid 30's, I was often a multiple alarm guy. Even though I evolved into a person who could get up, sometimes very early without an alarm, I still typically did not train early in the morning. When I was a bachelor and wasn't working over the summers, this would sometimes lead to getting in my bike much later than anticipated and riding through the hottest part of the day. Or, even worse, sometimes starting in the afternoon and riding into the evening, only to come home all jacked up and finding it difficult to fall asleep. Which of course, led to training later the next day, and the cycle continued.
Well that was all fine and good when it wasn't significantly impacting my life, but over the past 3 years I've have some awesome life changes (getting married and having a son) which made it necessary to be more flexible and yet more scheduled for my training rides. And although many days I do train in the evenings, I've become accustomed to training at the butt crack o' dawn, or even well before it. I dare say I even I enjoy getting out that early.
I saw this cool article on Bicycling Magazine dot com that gives some nice tips: 9 Ways to Make Riding in the Morning Easier
While I'm not a huge fan of the suggestion of skipping breakfast, I think the rest of them are great. As far as the food goes, I believe a little something in your belly to get you going is important. I would often do some peanut butter on toast with a banana. I eat this pretty much as soon as I get up so I have the time I'm getting dressed and getting my bike ready to digest a bit.
I really love the "don't check e-mail" tip. That goes for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They are black holes of time and before you know it, you've eaten up 15, 30, or even more minutes of valuable training time.
Another tip I would add if you're going to get out super early is get yourself a great tail light and head light. I purchased my first bar and head lamps back in 1995 for my first 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race. Over the next 10 years of 24 Hour Racing, I picked up a new light or two, but no new purchase since 2004. Boy, has the technology really progressed. I purchased a Niterider Lumina 550 from Cycle Craft. It's a one piece unit that's USB rechargeable and super bright. I've found it sufficient for light night mountain biking, and perfect when supplemented with a head light. I picked up and extra bracket so I can swap it from each of my training bikes and not spend time in the morning swapping things around. Sometimes just the novelty of starting in the dark in the morning is enough to get me fired up.
The more prepared you can be, the better you'll be in the morning. As the article suggest, get your clothes all set, but also get your bottles and food ready to go. This way you can just roll out of bed, grab a little grub and coffee if you do that sort of thing, get in your kit, snag your bottles, and you're off.
It also helps to have good quality gear. My team kit has provided me with plenty of options for my tops and bottoms, along with good jackets. Additionally, I always knew my head, hands, and feet would be well cared for regardless of the conditions thanks to my incredible Sealskinz pieces. It's worth the investment to keep yourself more comfortable and warm. It also eliminates excuses if the weather is unfavorable!
And there is certainly something to be said about looking back on your day on knowing that you've gotten several hours of saddle time and it's only 9 am. A little smugness never hurt anyone...just make sure it's only a little!
Now get out and ride your bike!
It's been far too long since I reported what the amazing BJL Coaching Athletes have been doing out on the race courses, and it's TIME! Most athletes are well into their season, whether they're racing road, time trials, mountain bikes, or some combination of the three disciplines. The weather has been great for the most part, and there's been some super racing action.
The last weekend in April saw plenty of racing in the region. On April 25, Kevin E. went "Down the Shore" for the Long Beach Island (LBI) Time Trial. This 10 mile course includes two turn arounds so you can experience different wind situations. Fortunately wind wasn't too bad that day, and Kevin finished 15th in a deep Cat 4/5 Field. He was able to grab some points for the overall TT Cup and gain some valuable experience on a course that was new to him.
Also on that Saturday, Chris C. attended the Juniors in the Jungle High School Mountain Bike Race promoted by Team Town Cycle. Chris entered the Men's A Category, which would be equivalent to High School Varsity. He took first in the race, and since this race was part of a three race series, he would go into race #2 leading the points.
Sunday brought many of the athletes to the 15th Annual Tour de Lake, a competitive cycling "challenge" that has two courses options through northern Morris and southern Sussex counties. All the athletes who participated chose the longer route which was 40 miles with almost 3000' of elevation gain. In the Women's field, Stef M. grabbed 6th place in her first go at the 40. She's been on the podium in the 20 and did great with the longer, tougher course. Sarah P. had a solid ride, and despite being mislead off course by deviant who painted some false arrows on the road, still came in 15th place. In the Men's race, Keith L., my teammate and the event organizer, took 6th place in the stacked field. We had three athletes in the Men's 45+ race. Top honors goes to Greg S. who took 8th in the, then Frank S. who came in 26th, and Jim G. who also followed the false arrows but finished up 35th. This will certainly serve as great training for Jim in his journey to Leadville.
As we moved into May, Chris C. kicked off the month with another podium performance locking in his first place for the overall High School Series. Saturday, May 2 was the 10th Annual Team Bulldog Youth Race and NJ State High School Mountain Bike Championships. Chris C. came in second in the event, not far behind his teammate and fellow BJL Coaching Athlete Morgan P., who claimed the High School State Championships for the second year in a row.
On the road side, Kathryn C. entered the Men's 4/5 Field at Prospect Park early Saturday morning for some great training. She stayed out of trouble and hung nicely with the pack.
Sunday, May 3 was Race #2 in the H2H Mountain Bike Race Series, where we saw a number of top performances. Chris C. rounded out his weekend with a victory in Cat 2 Junior Men 15-18, making that 2 for 2 in the series, and one of the fastest times of the day. Stef M. finished in 5th place on the challenging course in Cat 2 Women 40+. Rod M. dispatched some demons and came in 8th in Cat 2 Master Men 50+. In the Cat 1 Race, Greg S. continued to move forward in the series with a 7th place finish in 50+. Finally, Brooke W. took 2nd place in Women 40+ in her first race of the year.
Dropping down south of the Mason Dixon line again saw Paul L. hitting up the Bunny Hop Crit. He rode a smart race coming in 12th out of 80+ starters in the Masters 35+ field.
Jump ahead to the weekend of the 9th/10th, and we begin with yet another Victory for Chris C. On Saturday, May 9, Chris participated in the High School Series Finals, held by Team Marty's. He took first in the Men's A field, ensuring his overall win for the series. Way to be consistent, Chris!
On the paved side of things on May 9, Paul L. was ready to bang bars again at the Orchard Beach Crit Race, where he finished up mid-pack out of 60+ racers. Also that day, Kevin E. raced the clock at the super cool Somerset Circuit TT and came in 10th in the Cat 4/5 Men. His consistent performances have moved him steadily up the standings in the TT Cup, with his sights set on the top 10 overall soon. I also attended that event, and came in 4th, just 15 seconds off the podium in the 35+ Field, and 9th overall.
On May 10, Mothers' Day, brought Kathryn C. to the Bear Mountain Spring Classic. This is one of my favorite road races of all time, and I was glad I was able to provide plenty of intel on a course that would be new to her. Coming off a 4th place Battenkill as her last road race, she was hungry for a podium. I could hear the passion and excitement in her voice as we discussed race strategy a few days prior to the race. It all came together as she WON the Cat 4 Women's Race! She was able to get into the early break which was eventually whittled down to two racers. She attacked on the final pitch up Lake Welch and held on for the victory. Amazing, KC!
It's really been a wonderful year so far working with this group of dedicated cyclists, and I know we have a lot more successes in store!
Look for the May 16 to May 31 report coming shortly...
Since I've last checked in with a racing recap, there's been quite a bit of action with the BJL Coaching Athletes.
Let's jump back to the Ides of March and the MTBNJ Grundle Short Track Mountain Bike Race was taking place. The conditions were snowy and muddy, but that didn't deter these hardy racers. One of the area's top U19 Racers, Morgan P. entered in the open men and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th. In the Women's Open Field, Kathryn C. put her 'Cross skills to good use on her mountain bike and took home second place. This was a nice tune up race for both athletes.
The strange weather in March left the weekend of the 21st and 22nd open, but the following weekend brought us three very different races. Masters Racer Greg S., making his comeback after a 20 year break from racing Pro Mountain Bikes, headed south the the March Mayhem Mountain Bike Race. An early race mechanical forced him to stop and lose contact with the gravy train on this fast and flowy course, but he fought back hard to finish 5th.
Paul L. got involved in the penultimate Branchbrook Spring Series, battling stiff winds and a talent rich 35+ field. A break went up the road, and Paul finished 3rd in the field sprint to take 12th place overall.
And for something completely different, Kathryn C. went back to her mother land of Michigan for the very popular Barry Roubaix dirt and gravel road race. Just shy of 3000 (yes, 3000) folks register for the three different race lengths, and of course Kathryn was all in with the 62 mile loop and 3800' of elevation gain. The morning brought mid-teens for temperatures but she used her 'cross racing experience to be properly dressed and prepared. The mass start presented some difficulty in knowing who was in your field, but KC kept fighting hard and finished up 6th in the Open Women out of 41 starters, of which only 28 finished.
The first weekend of April had the Time Trialists ready to race against the clock for the first time this year. Both Kevin E. and Jan S. went to the northern part of the 'Jersey Shore for the classic TT kickoff race, Sandy Hook. This would be Kevin's second go at the 7 mile out and back course, and Jan's first. The wind was nasty that day, gusting up to 30+ mph. Kevin bettered his result from last year coming in at 11th with friend and temmate Jan, coming in just seconds behind him in 12th. Great start to the season, men!
Also on April 4th was the last Branchbrook Park Race, dealing with crazy windy conditions again. Frank S. got involved getting his legs back under him with a strong pack finish where many in his Cat 4 Race were dropped. Paul finished up 15th with a strong field sprint chasing yet another break in the 35+ Race.
On April 11th was the Cherry Blossom Challenge back at Branchbrook Park. This race traditionally brings out the best road racers in the region, and this running didn't disappoint. Paul L. entered the Cat 3 Race as a little tune-up for his race on the 5th, and finished up 18th, again doing well in the field sprint after a break away got clear on the first lap. Frank S. put himself back in action and finished in the pack in the Cat 4 Race, where almost a 1/3 of the field didn't finish due to the windy conditions. I enterred the Pro 1/2/3 Race, and with $1500 on the line, I knew all the heavy hitters would be there. I was happy to stay in the field after a breakway went clear at about mile 40 of the 50 mile race. I finished up 28th of the 81 starters, 3rd place Cat 3. The conditions wreaked havoc on this group as well, as only 43 finished the race.
The next day, Paul got his game on at the Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic. He rode a beautiful race and sprinted for 5th place out of the 79 finishers. This was a super result and some more points from USA Cycling.
On Saturday, April 18th, the TT'ers were back at it at the 2nd running of the Allamuchy TT Course. This super fun course had some great conditions and Kevin E. put himself just into the top 10, in 10th. This will give Kevin some good cup points and help to hone his form for the rest of the season.
The 18th was day one of one of the largest races in the country, The Battenkill Pro/Am. Pete S. took the journey to upper New York State for his first test of the season, and crossed the line in 22nd out of the 50+ starters in his Cat 5 group. Pete showed tremendous tenacity and will power after a bit of a late start to his training this year. Kathryn C. had a wonderful race, making all the right moves. The Women's Cat 4 race would be won by a solo breakaway from mile 9, but KC put herself into the head of the field as the chase group whittled itself down to a mere 8 riders. Kathryn sprinted her way to 4th place, missing 3rd by a 1/4 of a wheel. None-the-less, a brilliant race, Kathryn!
Sunday the 19th was the first Hudson to Highlands Mountain Bike Race of the year. This is an 8 race series located in NJ and NY that brings out the top racers of the region. The race was promoted by MTBNJ and they laid out a challenging and fun course. BJL Coaching Athletes started the series off strong with U19 Racer Morgan P. coming in 2nd in Cat 1 Men 19-39, Stef M. earning 4th in Cat 2 Women 40+, Rod M. scoring 7th in Cat 2 Men 50+, and Greg S. taking home 7th in Cat 1 Men 50+. Chris C., in his first Cat 2 Race of his life, finished 1st in the 15-18 Junior Men, and top 5 out of all Cat 2s.
This is a great start for all of these athletes. Their hard work and perseverance is really paying off, and will only pay greater dividends as the season rolls on. I'm very excited to witness all the success that will come!
The BJL Coaching / Cycle Craft Winter Trainer Sessions started of with a bang! We had record attendance, with a bunch of new faces along with the usual suspects in the crowd. It was a pleasure working with these dedicated athletes, and I'm excited to watch everyone progress.
The drills for the night included one legged pedaling, high cadence work, "climbing", and some muscle tensioning intervals. Next week we'll build upon this workout as we slowly increase the intensity over the ten weeks to create long lasting fitness.
I also introduced the BJL Coaching Odd Number Challenge:
Attend 5, 7, or 9 classes to be entered into a raffle. Why not 10? Who's perfect? ; )
Two winners will receive one free month of custom coaching with BJL Coaching and a free Lactate Threshold Field Test. One prize per person. The threshold test will be scheduled by the end of April with the free month to follow the test.
With nine classes left, literally everyone is still eligible to earn 3 entries into the raffle. And, more importantly than that, attend the rest of the classes and you'll hit the "warm" weather with a solid foundation. But remember, even if you can't attend all the classes, every class you do make will be beneficial for your cycling and fitness goals.
For more information on the trainer sessions and to register, click HERE.
Thanks again to all who attended for a great first class!
- Coach Brian
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.