Monthly Archives: September 2014

Cycling in the Melbourne heat

Be alert to the symptoms of heat exhaustion

The Breakaway

Being in the hot Melbournian summer means that cyclists need to be wary of heat exhaustion and stroke.

The Leadout

Eighteen months ago I had a reminder of just how easily this can happen, on the ride home from the MS Melbourne Cycle. Despite taking precautions, I was ‘cooked’ about 20 minutes from home on the return leg. It happened very quickly and ruined an otherwise very enjoyable event.

Shameless plug: you can find the MS Melbourne Cycle at:

The Peloton

So lets start with the basics c/o St John’s First Aid ->

What is it?
Heat exhaustion results from a decrease in blood pressure and blood volume. This is due to the loss of fluids and electrolytes when exposed to the heat for a prolonged period of time.

How to do know you’ve got it?
As well as general fatigue, symptoms include, feeling sick, faint and heavy sweating. The skin will be flushed and hot to the touch, heart rate elevated and the rider may also complain of feeling dizzy and appear confused. I can vouch for this and general feeling of being really unwell.

What do you do about it?
Any rider displaying these symptoms should stop cycling immediately and find somewhere cool and in the shade. They should be given fluids to sip, ideally water or a sports drink, and may be cooled with a wet flannel or light spraying with cool but not cold water. They should recover within 30 minutes but, if they are still displaying symptoms after this time, contact the emergency services.

What happens if you ignore the symptoms and press on?
If the symptoms of heat exhaustion are ignored and the rider continues to push themselves, exertional heat stroke, where the body temperature rises to dangerous levels, can occur. Then some serious adverse effects may kick-in:

  • Heavy sweating will suddenly stop, the riders skin will feel cold and clammy and they may complain of feeling cold despite the heat.
  • Heart rate and breathing will be significantly increased and they may also be suffering from muscle cramps.
  • They may vomit, complain of having a headache and be confused and disorientated.
  • In severe cases, fitting and a loss of consciousness may occur.

What’s the treatment for severe heat stroke?
The priorities are to get the rider out of the sun and to contact the emergency services. While waiting for them to arrive, if conscious, the rider should be given fluids to sip and can also be cooled with a damp flannel or spraying. Avoid complete immersion in cool water and do not give any form of medication. If unconscious, place them into the recovery position.

Look at me Ma…No Hands…

Riding hands-free without losing skin

The Lead Out

Being a bit ‘unco’ I’ve always found riding ‘no hands’ a bit of challenge.  However, as I’ve been doing pilates and yoga for my bad back, I’ve found it a lot easier.  Core strength seems to have other benefits.  Here’s list of other practice exercises that I’ve read about that are supposed to help you

The Breakaway

Basically it’s about practice and confidence.  The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel.  Soon you’ll be able to ‘look at me Mom, no hands’ without this happening. – more proof that GoPro encourages young men of all ages to do stupid things 🙂

Also you really want to avoid doing this at the finish of a race ->

The Peloton

So here’s the exercise:

  1. Ride in a gear that allows you to keep a steady cadence and a static upper body. In real-world situations, you’ll want to keep pedalling. To build balance skills, practice while coasting down a slight grade, with plenty of space around you.
  2. Sit upright with your pedals level and your hands on the top of the bar.
  3. Shift your weight onto your feet. Keep your butt light and remove all weight from your hands. Let your palms barely rest on the bar, as if they aren’t there.
  4. Steer and balance by subtly moving your hips from side to side. Keep your hands touching the bar for security, but resist the urge to use it for control.
  5. When you feel more confident, take your hands off the bar. Lift them further away and for longer periods, and experiment with sitting up and pedalling. Soon your balance will improve, and you’ll be sitting up, hands free and able to change clothes, unwrap an energy bar or do that victory salute!

But remember its really important to keep count of the laps when doing your salute 🙂 ->, lest you look like a dill.

To casquette or not to casquette…that is the question


The Lead Out

Whether you ride on the road, on the trails, or on your way to work, a cycling cap is a great addition to your wardrobe of cycling clothing. Given the variety of weather conditions you are riding in, you’ll probably collect a few different caps to suit your rides.

However I would direct your attention to Rule 22 of the velominati –

The Breakaway

Most cycling caps follow a similar formula. They have a short, 2–3 inch brim and a low profile top that fits nicely under a helmet. The brim is just long enough to keep the sun and rain out of your eyes, without blocking your vision. One major difference: earflaps or no earflaps. When the temperature drops, nothing beats some extra material to fold down over your frozen earlobes. Many cycling caps come in a couple of sizes, so find the one that fits comfortably under your helmet without being ice-cream-headache tight.

The Peloton

Cycling caps are made with a range of materials to suit the weather and your personal sense of style. If nothing you find is quite your speed, many companies offer custom cycling caps with infinite options for materials, colors, patterns and embroidery. No matter what cap you choose, you always have the choice of how to wear it. Backwards? Forwards? Bill up or bill down? It’s up to you.

COTTONRaphaCap The time-tested option, worn since the earliest days of the Tour de France. If it was good enough for legendary riders, it will work for you. Bonus points if it bears the logo of a classic European road racing team or cycling company. Having bought a few of these caps, I can attest to the durability and quality of the Rapha cap. You can find it here –
WOOLIbexCoppi The best option for winter riding and staying warm when wet. Many wool caps have earflaps. This is also a great choice for commuting and off the bike beer drinking while proclaiming your allegiance to the two-wheeled tribe.  I can recommend the – – on windy days I tend to wear another woollen skull cap underneath it.
SYNTHETIC When the sun beats down, a synthetic blend cap is the way to go. These will wick away sweat and keep it out of your eyes. There are even some waterproof and breathable synthetic caps that are great in the rain. Pro tip: a cycling cap is better than fogged up sunglasses when the rain is really beating down.   The one I recommend for those warm late spring or summer day rides is the Pearl Izumi Cap as shown here –