Coach's Corner:
Riding in the Heat

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in The California Events Schedule, August 1993


To develop heat tolerance abilities for training and racing in the hot summer months. This is realized with training, hydration, and equipment.


"Acclimatize" is in the dictionary for a reason, because it is physiologically possible to adapt to a new climate. Thus a sure fire way to adapt to hot weather is simply to ride in it. It's best to alternate days in the heat at first. This will help dilate your sweat and make you sweat more easily. And eventually, you'll get used to the heat. (When training for the always hot Race Across AMerica, I trained and raced primarily in SoCal for this very reason.) Along the sweaty way to adaptation, though, there a few things we can do to make life a little easier.

Drink Tons!!! — Hydration is the bottom line in athletic performance. Even a small decrease in blood volume due to dehydration can cause your blood to sludge and thus encourage poor oxygen circulation, cramps, nausea, dizziness, and eventual physical shutdown. A good rule of thumb is to put down AT LEAST a 20oz bottle of water per hour. If you're thirsty, you're way behind schedule! And by the way, DRINK that water; don't dump it on your head if you have a limited supply.


Add ice to your water bottles or even freeze them the night before your workout.

Put your water bottle in a wet sock and let Mother Nature keep it chilled for you.

Use a CamelBak (Icebak model) stuffed full of ice to carry your fluids AND keep you cool. It's like riding in a refrigerator even on a scorching day.

Sew a terry cloth towel in a pocket shape to the back of your cycling cap and fill it full of ice.

Finally, wear light or white colored clothes to reflect the heat. Wear full-zip jerseys and a helmet that really circulates air well. And don't forget that SPF 15 sunblock!