Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Captain Mellow's Mobile Observations: Sweat...

Sweat, that salty tasting fluid that coats our arms and legs, drips from our noses, chins, and brows, from hands gripping bars, that pretty much soaks into whatever we happen to be wearing when the temperature rises. Before the weather decided to make and abrupt U-turn around here yesterday, there were some good solid days in which to contemplate sweat. It is that time of year - we can comfortably cruise along in 70º weather and then all of a sudden hit a +90º spike that has our bodies scrambling to adjust. Last Friday was just such a day, and for Captain Mellow climbing up GMR, it was the first real big sweat day of the year.

With sweat dripping from all those places mentioned above, the Captain's thoughts turned to those sodium-laced drops and a certain potentially insignificant conundrum he spends energy-wasting attention on each and every year. The question isn't whether he sweats, that is obvious by the salt stains on his cycling cap tucked into his helmet, and the spattered drops on his top tube. No, the question he returns to each season is whether there is a steady and rhythmic  drip ... drip ... drip from the end of his chiney-chin chin, or whether it falls in a more sporadic way.

This is weighty stuff, and he spends a portion of each hot ride thinking about it. But, a certain catch-22 confounds what would seem to be an easy answer. You see, there is no way the Captain can see the dripping, to determine whether it falls in a steady pattern, or a more irregular one without looking down. But, when Captain Mellow looks down, essentially tucking his chin to his chest, the very action compresses his sweat-soaked chin strap against the bottom of his chin, or neck - he is not sure where the one ends and the other begins. That compression, of course, releases all that moisture to run down his chin in a torrent or series of drips. Think of a sponge - it can be full of water, but might not drip until squeezed; same with a chin strap. What is a person to do - you can't study the dripping without looking down, but looking down changes the equation.

You can help Captain Mellow with this problem. The next time you find yourself on a group ride with him, or if he catches you out on the road somewhere, riding solo, ride along beside him and observe just what sort of dripping is taking place. If he doesn't look at you like you're strange and ask "what're you looking at", he will probably thank you for the assist.

Another thing the good Captain has noticed, is that his sweat tends to be more cloudy, full of minerals, early in the year and then after a while, clears up. He attributes this to his body becoming more efficient as it acclimates over the course of the warmer months. In his USA Cycling coaching manual (Introduction to Coaching Cyclists) he read that about 95% of acclimatization occurs within the first 14 days of heat exposure, and wonders if after about 14 days his sweat would be more clear. Of course this time of year, it is difficult, if not impossible to find 14 consecutive days of hot weather, so he will probably have to wait another month or two to test that theory.

Good riding, and when the heat is on, drink your water.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...