At the OC Bike Rally we had paramedics take a very experienced BCI rider in to the ER - after some IV fluids he felt much better - Last Tuesday our club ride up to Foothill Ranch was warm - one of our other most experienced club members passed out and was taken by ambulance to the ER to add 2 1/2 liters of fluid... both are recovered now but needed immediate care.
Older people are more vulnerable, but even if you are young and in great shape, heed the warnings of impending heat waves and seriously consider not even riding, or taking a short version, or blow off the scheduled BCI route & ride toward the beach - but remember later when it is hotter you will be crawling back into Irvine.
Hydration means drink a lot of water before you need it - if you are thirsty it's already too late if you need to keep riding. Drink a full bottle of water on the way to the park before the ride, fill up & sip constantly as you ride. It's not just the sweating that will take you down, it is mostly evaporation from breathing hard while riding, and the movement through the air drys off your skin so fast you don't even know how much you are sweating.
The worst is that you begin to get loopy and won't know when to stop; so look out for each other - your biking buddy may be suffering & you could be a life saver so look out for each other!
Here is a chart explaining Heat Related Illness courtesy of your Centers for Disease Control:
In addition: Board Member Randy Profeta offers this overview of cycling hydration
The Causes of Muscle Cramping
Interestingly, medical science really does not know exactly what causes muscle cramping. There are lots of theories about it and many ways to help avoid them, but no one really knows exactly how or why they occur. Here are some thoughts about keeping cramps in check.
Hydration and Electrolytes.
Many is the century rider who thinks that drowning themselves the day before a long ride will benefit their hydration and help stave off cramps. This is not really correct. Getting enough water for a long ride does not start the day before the event. In fact, many Americans are dehydrated; we are not drinking enough water!
So how much water should you consume each day? A good rule is to drink a ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight...every day. So for a 200 lb rider, that would be 100 ounces of water, or eight 12-ounce bottles of water, every day. Nutritionists say that you will know you are well hydrated if your urine is straw-colored (light in color). And this practice should be followed each day, every day, and not just during race or event week!
When you are on the bike, you generally do not need to consume more than about 24 ounces of water an hour. Forget about trying to replace all the fluids you are losing during a ride. The body loses water through respiration, perspiration, and urination. If you consume too much water, generally more than about 28 ounces of water per hour, you can fall victim to Hyponatremia, commonly called Water Intoxication or Water Poisoning. This is a bad thing. Simply stated, Hyponatremia is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is diluted and pushed outside safe limits by over-hydration. Under normal circumstances, accidentally consuming too much water is exceptionally rare. Water intoxication in normal individuals can be the result of long bouts of intensive exercise during which electrolytes are not properly replenished, yet huge amounts of fluid are being consumed. Sound familiar?
In general, I usually consume about 20 ounces of water an hour while on the bike. During my toughest hot-weather events, I have upped water consumption to 28 ounces an hour and consume fairly large doses of electrolytes each hour. During the Traverse MTB race several years ago, the temperatures on the Main Divide reached 117°and we were fully exposed with no shade. I was taking the maximum dosage of Hammer Endurolytes (an electrolyte capsule) and consuming about 26-28 oz. of water an hour. No cramps. No dehydration.
Most water bottles are between 21 and 24 ounces, so one bottle an hour is about right. Don’t drown yourselves!
Now, onto Electrolytes. Stated simply, electrolytes are critical for nerve and muscle function. Both muscle tissue and neurons (nerve endings) are considered electrical tissues of the body. Electrolytes help conduct electricity in the body. Muscles and neurons are activated by electrolyte activity. Muscle contraction is highly dependent on the presence of these electrolytes and a deficit will usually result in severe muscle weakness or muscle contractions, AKA cramps! Taken to extremes, serious electrolyte disturbances caused by dehydration or over-hydration can result in cardiac or neurological complications and unless treated properly and rapidly resolved, can result in a medical emergency! From a physiological perspective, the primary ions of electrolytes are made up of Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Chloride (Cl), and Calcium (Ca).
So, read the labels and make sure that you are getting a well-balanced compliment of electrolytes. I usually take electrolyte capsules, adjusting my intake up or down based on how my muscles feel. Do not rely on sports drinks to provide enough electrolytes. If you look at electrolyte content in some of the most popular sports drinks, you would need to consume 50 to 80 ounce an hour to get enough electrolytes into your system to see any benefit. This is why I like tablets or capsules. I rely on Endurolytes or Endurolytes Extreme by Hammer Nutrition. These are made in capsule form. Hammer has other products, but capsules let me adjust electrolyte replacements up or down quickly.
One more thing: electrolytes are not magic potions and will not take the place of proper training. But not maintaining proper electrolyte balances even in fit athletes will have negative effects.
See you out there!