The Ruta Cemí race takes place in the Caribbean area of the Dominican Republic, as you know, a tropical country on the island of La Hispaniola embedded in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
The Dominican Republic’s weather, therefore, is tropical, which is equivalent to high temperatures throughout the year and specifically, in May, at a minimum of 22ºC and maximum 32ºC with winds that around the 20 km / h and relative humidity close to 80% most part of the day.
These climatic conditions, together with the altitudes of the race, make the Cemí Route much harder than it seems a priori “only” 3,119 miles of accumulated ascent during its five stages.
It is important to understand what happens to our body when we exercise with high levels of relative humidity.
Human’s sweat glands are responsible for lowering body temperature through sweating and evaporation of sweat and when they face high levels of relative humidity fail to evaporate the amount of liquid necessary to lower the temperature and sweat accumulated in the body in the form of drops without being able to lower the body’s temperature.
When our body is in this situation, its internal temperature increases, tends to dehydrate faster and prioritizes blood flow to essential organs, which reduces the amount of oxygen received by the muscles responsible for pedaling, increases the heart rate of 10 at 20 beats per minute and greater fatigue is generated, a greater feeling of tiredness and a perception of effort much higher than what we would do in less humid conditions.
This is why we give you a few tricks so that you can face the conditions of the Cemí Route with success if you are not used to training with humidity.
If you are one of those who goes out pedaling with a small waterbottle, we advise you to start getting used to also carrying a hydration backpack. Also, if you had never thought you needed it and you don’t have it, don’t worry, the Cemí Route will give you one with a capacity for two liters.
It is important to hydrate with water, isotonic salts and electrolytes. There are numerous options on the market to improve the hydration capacity of our backpacks. Do not discard them, they are prepared with powders, capsules or tablets, whatever you use regularly, and must be drank continuously before, during and after the race so as not to suffer dehydration.
According to experts a correct acclimatization to a hot environment requires about 14 days of prolonged exposure. Try to train in the hours of the day that best resemble the conditions that you will find in the Dominican Republic.
It is not necessary that you start this training too early, since adaptation to the heat, as well as the loss of this acclimatization, occurs quickly.
Indeed, a good option would be to come a few days before the test and start the training in situ with light sessions to acclimatize the body. You can take advantage of those days to come on vacation with the family and enjoy Punta Cana and a stay at the Bahia Principe hotel complex.
Match your clothes to tropical conditions. Wear highly breathable clothing. If you want to run with long sleeves and legs, make them breathable, and use the warmest colors possible. Whites and colors that repel the sun instead of attracting it.
If you are used to training with long gloves, try to keep them thin and equally breathable. Don’t wear winter gloves.
If, on the other hand, you are used to wearing half finger gloves, remember to protect them with sunscreen.
It is important to protect the parts of the body exposed to the sun, face, neck, legs, arms, fingers, etc., with high protection sun cream SPF50 +. You should also use UVA and UVB protectors.
In the same way, we must protect the areas of the body exposed to chafing, groin, thighs, etc., since excess sweating due to high relative humidity makes these lesions appear more easily. Use a good cream to avoid this discomfort.
It is very important to be realistic about the pace and not try to go above our means. A good scale is to reduce our usual speed capacity between 15 and 20 percent until we are perfectly acclimatized.
We must remember that the body generates heat in any sports we practice, if the high relative humidity makes it difficult to lower our body temperature as we usually do, and the temperature is very high and we are not used to the tropical sun, our body will heat up faster the higher the temperatura.
We must keep in mind the following, if we feel a considerable increase in our body temperature, stop, find a shady area and wait until we recover the good sensations. Another option is to take advantage of the rivers that the Cemí Route crosses to take a quick dip and cool down our body. Don’t worry about crocodiles, in the Dominican Republic there are no dangerous, poisonous or violent animals.
Having said that, as you can see, pedaling in hot and humid conditions is a challenge for our body, so we have to use common sense and be always be cautios. Acclimatize, hydrate continuously, wear suitable clothing to protect ourselves from the sun and perform at a pace that we can maintain. Four basic parameters that will make the difference between staying halfway or getting the precious CEMI OF HONOR.
We invite you to take a look the article written by Andy Blow published in Training Peaks on June 24, 2020 in which he talks about why it is extra tough to compete in conditions of high relative humidity.