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I found this advice on a wonderful site called Active MSers (activemsers.com). It was written by a cyclist with MS who wanted to share some of his tips for managing the heat, a very common element that cause a patients symptoms to magnify significantly, while riding during the spring and summer months.

While written primarily for MS patients, it’s actually really good fundamental advice for anyone training or racing in the south, especially beginners or those coming back after a long layoff.

So, check out the great advice below and please share with our fellow riders in the Bike MS events.

“A number of people have asked me how I handle the heat on a bike. As a person with MS, there is no doubt that I am considerably more sensitive to heat than most cyclists out there, but there are a couple of things I have found that help.

Keep moving. There is such a thing as “resting on the bike”, lower the intensity of the effort but keep pedaling to maintain airflow and its cooling effect. It took a while to condition myself to do this but maintaining airflow is key to staying cool for me.

Stop in the shade. I try not to stop any longer than necessary to grab a breath, a pee, a bite or a drink. The longer I stop, the harder it is to get going again. Even the ambient warm air temp in the shade sucks nerve function out of me.

Dress. I tend to under dress. I dress more for the expected high temperature than the starting temperature. If it’s really cold when I start, I wear removable arm and leg warmers. I use proper cycling clothes that are generally designed for comfort and cooling.

Helmet. I got a new helmet late last year, it has about twice the number of air vents as my old helmet but they are smaller vents and they seem to have made the helmet noticeably warmer. I will get another helmet with larger vents before the weather heats up this year and I hope that will be a cooler solution.

Water. I carry two slightly oversize water bottles. When it really gets hot and I can’t generate enough airflow to cool or have to stop for a breath on a hill in the sun, I pour water on myself. On hot days I soak myself whenever I stop to refill my bottles. Also, the hotter it is, the more I drink. It makes me pee a lot but the cyclists’ adage is, “if you’re not peeing, you’re not drinking enough” and it’s all the truer for an MSer.

Conditioning. I have found that by not avoiding rising temperatures during training I am able to condition myself somewhat to tolerate a slightly higher range. I’d put this somewhere around being able to tolerate up to mid 70’s in the early season to being able to tolerate up to high 80’s in the later season. It can get pretty uncomfortable and if I really overheat, it is still devastating.

Special cooling stuff. I don’t own any special cooling stuff but I did try a freebie that was provided on the MS ride last year. It was a special water absorbent cloth tube about 2 ft. long and 2-in. in diameter that you wore around your neck. It felt pretty good, really good actually but it needed a snap or a tie to keep it from falling off. I caught mine several times before it finally did manage to fall. When it fell, it wrapped itself around my pedal and left a tail dragging dangerously close to my rolling rear wheel. You should have seen the cyclists around me scatter when they saw what happened. They were obviously expecting the worst. If the thing had fallen on the chain ring side, I would have been stuffed, but fortunately it fell on the left side which is also my strongest side. You can’t just slam on a panic stop when you’re in the middle of a lot of bikers like that either so, I stopped pedaling but kept rolling along. I proceeded to unclip my left foot and manipulate the pedal crank until the cooling strap was only loosely draped over the pedal. Then, with a couple of uncoordinated but gingerly placed steps on the tail, I managed to drag it off the crank and leave it on the ground behind me. The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than 20 or 30 seconds but man, did I ever get accolades from the bikers around me! I’m sure they were ecstatic when they didn’t have to rescue my happy ass from a nasty crash just as much as I’m sure they appreciated my lucky skills at getting out of a dangerous situation. The real kicker of course, was that unless they noticed me at the last rest stop and happened to be at least a little familiar with MS, they probably didn’t have a clue that I suffered from it. Sometimes, when I’m on the bike, even I don’t notice the MS so much.”

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It’s go time and I’ve been so focused on kicking off “Operation Fundraising” that I’ve inadvertantly ignored my Top Fundraiser duties. My apologies. Let me catch you up and vow to keep all (six) of you informed.

1. I officially kicked off my fundraising efforts about 2 weeks ago when I updated my Facebook Group page and announced that I was once again participating in the Sam’s Club BikeMS and open for business. I posted an update to the group wall which shows up in the Feed of all the members AND sent a private message to the members that goes to their Facebook inbox.

I then turned my attention to the awesome tools provided by the MS Society via the “Participant Center.” This is an awesome fundraising suite packed with all kinds of goodies to help you break through your fundraising goals. I made sure to update the information on My Participant Center as well as my personal direct link (www.nationalmssociety.org/goto/matt.noe). This link is so handy b/c it allows you to share via emails and social media updates and is easy to remember.  I then imported my various address books to the email tool and sent out a mass email describing why I ride, what I’m asking, and how to donate. You can find the copy of my email on the Facebook Group wall post. Now I’m planning to gently remind folks via all my channels (Facebook, Twitter, email, blog, posters at office, etc) every couple of weeks. We all need to be reminded to do most things, especially if it’s something you want to do but not right this second.

2. I also got my first “long” ride in this past weekend. If you weren’t inspired by the absolute wonderful weather we had last weekend then there’s something wrong with you.

red wolf being released into the wildI felt like a caged animal being released into the wild and took advantage of kiddo nap time on Sunday to get in a nice 2-hour ride around Texas Motor Speedway. You can find me there most Sunday’s around 2pm so let me know if  you’re going to be there and I’ll make sure to be on the lookout. It can be boring so I welcome the company and conversation.

That’s all for now. I hope your riding and fundraising efforts are going well and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions about the tools listed above or ideas you may have.

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I was thrilled and relieved to see that our friends at the MS Society teamed up with the folks at TrainingPeaks to provide all riders access to professional coaching. During registration, you’re encouraged to sign up for daily emails detailing the recommended training to prepare you for a 160+ ride. This is so handy and worth the cost and effort involved in participating in the Sam’s Club BikeMS event.

Here’s an example of the training plan from today:

Hello Matt Noe,

    Your Workouts for Monday, February 08

    Type: Day Off
    Planned duration: 0:00
    Planned distance: 0.0 miles
    Take it easy today. The training starts tomorrow. (Nice way to start training, huh?)
    Hi and welcome to my Bike MS plan. My name is Joe Friel and I’ll be your coach for the next 12 weeks. If you’re wondering, I wrote the Cyclist’s Training Bible, the best selling book ever of training for biking, and have trained hundreds of people. I have also trained 20 Elite Coaches to use my principles. To find out more about my coaching principles please go to http://www.trainingbible.com/aboutJoeFriel.aspx.

    Your Workouts for Tuesday, February 09

    Type: Bike
    Planned duration: 1:30
    Planned distance: 0.0 miles
    Warm up for about 15 minutes. Then ride primarily at a moderate effort on a rolling course. Stay in the saddle on small hills to build and maintain hip strength. Use both small and big chain rings.
    Stretch following this ride.

So what are you waiting for?! Sign up for the ride today and get started on your training that will make you the hero and envy of all your friends!
Here’s to riding like hell for MS!
Matt

I don’t know about you but I’m always on the look out for opportunities to improve my situation. That’s why I’m going to take advantage of the time change to use that “extra” hour in the morning a little differently this year. I’m going to renew my AM workouts. Exercise makes me feel normal and is my Cymbalta. I need it and I know the people close to me like me a bit more when I’m exercising regularly.

Plus, I accredit my fitness in last year’s ride to starting an “offseason” training regiment that allowed me to ride hard and recover quickly during the ride without having put in long rides over 45 miles. These are definitely recommended but extremely difficult to fit in with a family, work, and all of the associated responsibilities, time constraints, etc.

So, since my body thinks I’m sleeping an hour later than normal, I took advantage this morning and headed to the gym. According to my workout journal, it’s been over a month but even then I was petering out, going 1-2 times a week for the month leading up to that. While my exit strategy from the house was a bit rusty (got to sneak out so I don’t wake the family), I managed to get out and to the gym without forgetting anything important.

I’m going “public” with this so I can keep myself honest and accountable. If you’re with me great! If not, there’s always New Year resolutions.

Lastly, I thought I would share my workouts in case you were looking for something new. I discovered a new, free system a while back and I love it. It’s called Crossfit and it’s

1) perfect for the time crunched exerciser

2) challenging as all get out

3) takes the thought out of planning workouts

4) consistently changes to keep your body guessing and mind engaged

5) it’s free and scalable (meaning, you can find posted workouts for all fitness levels)

If you’re interested in learning more, visit crossfit.com to understand the overall picture and then visit http://www.crossfitbrandx.com/index.php/forums/viewforum/16/ to get the daily scaled workouts (buttercup = easiest, big dawg = hardest).

Here’s what I did today: http://www.crossfitbrandx.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/8506/

Regardless, I hope you’ll join me in taking advantage of the time change to really make a change.

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