Handling the Heat

with USN

The 2023/2024 South African summer has been brutally hot. As it reaches its February crescendo it is only getting hotter. Come March riders can expect a particularly scorching edition of the Absa Cape Epic. Preparing for the heat and adjusting your fuelling accordingly, with USN sports nutrition, will help you cope when the days get long and sweltering. 

It goes without saying that racing in the heat is more arduous. Some people do however simply cope better in hot weather. Just as some deal more efficiently with strenuous exercise in cold conditions. At least if the temperatures soar in March riders will be less likely to skip water points and will out of necessity take hydration, and rehydration seriously. Fortunately, USN have the products to help you fuel, hydrate and recover on hand at the Absa Cape Epic.

Good to Know

Sports scientists and sports dieticians commonly recommend 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour – based on individual needs and experience – of exercise. This can be achieved with a mix of USN bars, gels and sports drink. It is however essential that you train your gut to absorb this quantity of carbohydrates and that you allow your gut to become accustomed to the sports nutrition products you will be using in the race.

USN products will be supplied at every water point throughout the Absa Cape Epic, barring the smaller “Hydro” aid stations, where only sports drinks and water will be on hand. Each stage graphic has the kilometre locations of these water points and “hydros” clearly marked. Be sure to plan your nutrition and hydration accordingly.

Riding with a hydration pack is also recommended, especially if the temperatures rise above the 25 degrees Celsius. Read more about the USWE hydration packs and why they are the choice of some of the Absa Cape Epic’s top riders on page 22 of this issue.

Fuelling in the Heat

While riding in hot temperatures your body will divert blood flow to the skin in an attempt to cool your body more rapidly. You will also be sweating more and therefore lose more fluid than you would in cooler conditions. Be aware that because of blood being diverted away from your digestive system, even more than usual during exercise, your ability to absorb nutrients – like carbohydrates – will be reduced on warmer days. This can cause digestive distress.

There is still some conjecture regarding hydration and the best time to drink. The simplest advice is to drink to thirst on the bike, but to keep tabs on your body weight throughout the week. Any drop weight is most likely indicative of fluid loss, so keep hydrating off the bike by adding USN’s Zero Sugar Hydrator sachets to your water bottle.

A simple way to check your hydration level is to monitor the colour of your urine. If it starts becoming increasingly darker shades of yellow you are becoming dehydrated. Another way to check for dangerous levels of dehydration, perhaps in your partner, is by pressing on their thumb nail. When releasing the pressure, the skin below the nail will be white as the blood has been pressed out of the region, the speed at which the blood returns will indicate their hydration level. Doing so now, while you are well hydrated will provide you with an indication of what this should look like.

Using Sports Drinks

Sports drinks generally and USN’s Endurance Range particularly are formulated to provide not only some of the carbohydrates your body needs to perform on the bike, but also the electrolytes you need to remain hydrated. Simply drinking water is not sufficient to maintain your hydration levels, your body need electrolytes, especially when you are sweating them out during exercise or when enduring extreme heat.

You should be drinking roughly 800 millilitres of fluid per hour while riding in hot conditions. This means that you may well have to make use of a hydration pack to carry sufficient fluids between aid stations.

Browes USN’s full range of endurance sports drinks – which include Epic Pro, Pro Enduro, CytoPower, and Winner’s Energy Hydration Drink – to see which products will best suit your needs. Remember that post-stage recovery is just as important as fuelling on the bike so round out your training sessions with USN Pro Recover.

Shop Online, Train Your Gut

South African riders can shop online at www.usn.co.za and browse USN’s full range of sports and endurance supplements. By eating USN bars and gels in training, as well as using USN’s hydration or sports drinking in your bottles, you will be training your gut to digest the fuel you will have ready access to in the race. That way, regardless of what the Absa Cape Epic or the weather during the race throws at you, you will be prepared.