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2013 Everest Challenge Stage Race — HEAT
See the key locations page for maps.
For 2013 Everest Challenge, race day was moved up one month, from late September to late August (after many years of it being the 3rd week of September).
An August race date increases the severity and risks of the race due to the usually very hot conditions. Difficult even in cool conditions, racers could suffer significant heat related issues. A lot depends on actual weather conditions (a cold front would be very welcome).
On August 23rd, sunrise is 6:16 AM in Bishop, CA. Civil twilight is thus around 5:45 AM. Yet the earliest start (noncompetitive) is at 6:20 AM, just after sunrise. Some starts are scheduled as late as 7:50 AM. With the sun up for 93 minutes, it can already be quite hot at lower elevations.
I urge the cycling governing body (USAC) and permit authorities to allow the race start times for 2013 to be moved up to morning civil twilight. The heat risks to participants justify an exception to the usual rigidity of rules (race times once set generally cannot be changed). Even just one hour earlier is a significant relief from heat.
August can be brutally HOT
Heat can be a serious business.
- Familiarize yourself with hydration and the risks of hyponatremia when racing in long and very hot races.
- Regularly train in very hot conditions for the month before the race. This will train your body to better cope with heat.
- Get “religion” on electrolytes and fluid replacement. Plain water = bad for long hot events.
While September can sometimes be hot (as in 2004), it is usually temperate as in 2012, and in 2011 it snowed lightly. August is much less friendly:
85°F ≠ 100+°F
In August, it can be 90° an hour after sunrise, and by late morning, the side canyons and asphalt can bake riders like a tandoori oven, and all with air temperatures over 100°F. Along with all that radiant heat, sometimes a “hair dryer” wind kicks up (or there can be no wind, which feels worse).
Dehydration losses can under strenuous exertion can be very high: in 2004 (hot year), I consumed two gallons of fluid over ~7 hours, and was still dehydrated.
Since the body can absorb about a liter per hour of fluid, it’s just a matter of time before fluid loss degrades performance (an unavoidable given). I have documented personal weight losses of 8 pounds on less strenuous 4-hour rides at lower temperatures (some of that weight loss is burn-off of glycogen and its associated water).
Personal dislikes about a late August race date
These are personal reasons that always meant something to me, probably not meaningful to many racers. But I always made the race an extended trip to the Eastern Sierra, a refreshing and beautiful time of year:
- By late September the aspens had begun to turn in some places—beautiful.
- In general, it is much more pleasant in late September than August for hiking and similar activities.
- Tourists still drive the roads in August, but September is “dead”.
- My kids start school that week (I think this is true for many parents).
2013 Race flyer