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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside
Amy Bushatz: No matter who you are or where you go, heading outside is always worth it. Welcome to Humans Outside where we’re using the Humans Outside 365 challenge to build a life around spending time in nature while learning from fascinating outdoor minded. I’m Amy Bushatz I’ve let curiosity be my guide as a journalist for 18 years. But life, including my husband’s war injuries, had burnt us out.
So we moved sight unseen to Alaska to see if a change of scenery and new focus on outdoors was just the shift we needed. Since September 2017, I’ve spent at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day, no matter what, to explore, how nature can change my life. Ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are while we work to do the same? Let’s go.
If you’ve spent any time listening to Humans Outside, you know that I live in a Alaska. Alaska you might also know, is not known for being unbearably hot. All of my dressing for weather challenges come from trying not to freeze to ,death or in the summer trying to dress. So as not to get eaten alive by mosquitoes.
But I have lived and recreated in hot places. So I know that being miserably sticky, blazing hot is just as much of a challenge as being cold when it comes to wanting to create an outdoor lifestyle. And that’s why we’ve got a couple of experts on thriving and surviving outdoors and hot weather. Now, the other thing you might know about hot weather is that there are really two types and the type you’re dealing with matters.
In my experience, cold is cold. It might be wet. It might be dry either way. You face it by layering up, but hot? Humid, hot, and hot dry feel different enough that tackling them has different factors. So I’m bringing you not one, but two guests to talk about dealing with hot weather.
Today’s guest is Joe Jacobs. He’s an Arkansas based cycling enthusiast, longtime state parks employee there, and the founder and owner of ArkansasOutside.com.
He’s also the previous chairman of the governor’s advisory council on cycling and a board member of the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance. Since he lives and plays in Arkansas, you know he knows how to go outside in the heat without letting it keep him down. That makes Joe a great person to offer us a little advice. Joe, welcome to Humans Outside.
Joe Jacobs: Thank you, Amy.
Amy Bushatz: So Joe, I’m so excited to have you here today because you’re going to help us with some really practical advice from like lived experience advice. But you were talking to me earlier and noted that you don’t have like a scientific background in this. You’re just, you’re bringing us your lived experience.
Joe Jacobs: Yeah, this is stuff that’s worked for me and maybe some of my friends and might work for other people. But it’s not a doctor prescribed way of dealing with the heat.
Amy Bushatz: That’s Okay. Because you know what, as long as we know that, like don’t sue us for her for being too hot or too sweaty. I think that’s, I think I was fine. And people’s live experience matters. And so does yours. So thank you so much for sharing that with us today.
We start our episodes, imagining ourselves, hanging out with our guests in their favorite outdoor space, like we’re outside having a conversation. But you’re actually outside talking to us today, can probably hear some birds in the background and that kind of thing.
But if we were going to imagine ourselves with you, where are we with you?
Joe Jacobs: Usually, although I’m a big cyclist I’m also a hiker and backpacker and spend a lot of time in the woods. Any trail with the stream going by just listening to the stream, that’s usually where I want to be. And there’s a lot of that in Arkansas.
Amy Bushatz: That’s great. So maybe we are hanging out by a stream having a snack. I find I start a lot of our episodes by pretending I’m having a snack. Maybe I should explore that more but yeah, that’s a beautiful location and I’ve actually spent just a little bit of time in Arkansas. My husband and I went on vacation there in 2015. So year before we moved to Alaska. We visited Hot Springs National Park. And we floated down the Buffalo River, I believe. Yeah, it was a great trip,
Joe Jacobs: Both wonderful places to go, spend a lot of time in both places.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So tell us, how did you become someone who likes to go outside- broadly, but also in Arkansas,
Joe Jacobs: I was an Air Force brat when I was a kid. And in the sixties and seventies, my father he liked being outside a lot and he was big water skier. We owned a camper, we, and we lived all over the country. We lived at one place, a place that might sometimes be colder than where you live as a Glasgow Montana out on the plain of Montana in Eastern Montana, just south of the Canadian border. But during the summers we would spend camping in the Rockies up in Banff area. We’d go into Idaho a lot, so Yellowstone, all that kind of stuff. And ever since then, I’ve just had this love for being outside. I’m kind of more of a mountain person than a beach person.
So, Arkansas is a little different. It’s not the big mountains of Colorado, but as I remind my Colorado friends, our valleys are a whole lot lower. So it still feels like you’re in pretty good mountains. So, just doing all that, riding bikes as a kid in the Washington D.C. Area back before there were helmets or water bottles, or, you know, a pair of cutoff, tank top and we were gone riding up to 50 miles a day as a kid.
And so when I moved to Arkansas, which is known as the natural state, I kind of picked all that back up about oh 25 years ago and started adventure racing, learned from that, that I really liked mountain biking and started learning how to build trails and all that kind of stuff, and just stayed with it the whole time.
So, anyway, my wife enjoys mountain biking and hiking. She just got back from a two- night backpacking trip with some girls that she knows. And so, we spent a lot of time outside.
Amy Bushatz: That’s great. I mentioned in the intro that you were, previously were the chairman of this council on cycling. And I believe if I’m not mistaken, the Central Trail Alliance works with building mountain bike trails, right?
Joe Jacobs: It’s a chapter of a International Mountain Biking, Bicycling Association. And we do some trail building a lot of maintenance. And then we just kind of advocate for it. We did last night we had our Monday night social ride. People just show up and we’d go ride trails. So and, and it’s inclusive of hiking, trail running basically any human powered thing you do on a trail kind of gets involved with so.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, so that means you’re not just a user, you’re also a maintainer. So you’re just very engrossed in all sides of the, of being outside.
Joe Jacobs: Yeah. Most people just described me as an advocate. If you want to talk about bikes in Arkansas call Joe he’ll know something about it.
Amy Bushatz: Well, that also means that you are experienced in spending time outside in the heat because Arkansas can get very hot. What are the summer temperatures that are like, what’s the humidity like?
Joe Jacobs: Temperatures get into the upper nineties, occasionally into the hundreds. And when the humidity’s up there in the upper nineties, it can be pretty oppressive outside. And you just got to learn how to deal with it. It’s just like when we go to, I was thinking when we were talking about doing this, it’s a lot, like when we go to Colorado I’ve got to go deal with the altitude. And so it’s just something you have to learn how to deal with. You know, people who live there know how to deal with it. And they acclimate to it. And here we acclimate to the heat.
Amy Bushatz: Sure. I always tell people who, who are like, oh, well this cold is nothing to you. Or they say something to me about being better equipped to deal with it or better at dealing with it, or, you know, some sort of a thing that makes them sound less than oh, well, it’s cold, too, it’s forty-five I know that’s nothing to you.
Well, the truth of matter is, and I think your Colorado examples really perfect for that. That heat and cold temperature broadly are relative to your experience. And so there’s nothing wrong with saying this feels really hot to me. Even if you live somewhere hot, but don’t spend a lot of time outside in it, that’s still going to feel really hot to you, or on the opposite end really cold.
So I don’t want people to be listening to this and thinking, oh, it’s I don’t have to deal with nineties and super humid. So I’m sort of wussy.
No, that’s not what this is about. This is about equipping yourself to deal with whatever temperature you have. And the reason we’re talking to you is because you spend a lot of time outside in it in a very specific type of heat. Not because you are experiencing some sort of extreme weather. And the other people should rise to the occasion. This is really just about helping people be equipped with good ideas for getting out in it. So thank you for doing this.
So talk to us about how you learned to go outside in the heat. You know, when you first moved to Arkansas, you can think back then, or whenever you started cycling in that August kind of weather, did you have to push yourself to be okay with it and overcome with it? How did you scale into that?
Joe Jacobs: When I moved here, I moved here from Texas, which has a little dryer heat. It’s not, I mean, it can get humid if you’re in south Texas, but I was up in Dallas. And so when I moved here, I immediately thought, okay, well it’s, the temperature is not much different, you know, let’s just go out and do it.
And then you’d get that humidity and it would just settle on you. The humidity kind of works in a way that our cooling function is by sweating, and the sweat leaving our body cools us down. Well, it doesn’t really leave your body when it’s really humid. So you just stay wet. So just got used to how to manage that aspect of it.
And it was usually with clothing and knowing that you’re losing water quickly hydration those were the two things that were the main keys to figuring it out. Plus everybody else who was doing it. And if I wanted to go out and have fun with them, I had to figure it out. So.
Amy Bushatz: Right. So what I hear you saying is something that we talk a lot about with getting used to any sort of temperature, and learning trustworthy, which is, when you are somebody who wants to go outside, you’ll find ways to overcome the thing that’s standing in your way. But also you just noted that you had a group of people that you wanted to go outside and have fun with. So you really had a group whose example you could follow, if not outright, ask them for advice, you to just see what they were doing.
Joe Jacobs: Right, right. And a lot, the other thing, there’s kind of a third thing there, and that’s in your head is you have to kind of watch what you have to be able to read yourself, know when you’re overdoing it out there, when you need to stop, take a break, sit down. You know, that last stream crossing sure looked cool, maybe we should go back to that for a second. Those kinds of things, and not pushing yourself to the point that your friends are having to carry you out. So you know, there’s a line, and you have to have that for yourself. If you don’t, you’re going to get yourself in trouble.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I think about, cold is what I know, so I’m going to keep going back to that. Cold feels more dangerous, let’s start there right. Because taught to be afraid of fresh spider cold weather injury or whatever. There’s such a thing as hot weather injury, too. Cold, I don’t know if it’s just maybe because of my experience in it that it’s easier to identify, like I feel cold period. You know, like this is bad, I’m really uncomfortable now. But maybe the discomfort of being hot, it sort of starts earlier? Do you think it’s harder to tell when you are in dangerous heat situation?
Joe Jacobs: It really is, if you’re pushing yourself and you don’t, sometimes you can miss it. You just think I’m tired, I’m working hard, I’m riding up a lot of hill or whatever, and I know it’s hot, but I can do this. And next thing you know, heat stroke is coming on and heat stroke can be as bad as hypothermia. I mean, I’ve seen it happen out there. I’ve tried to help get people out before and it’s just. It’s usually somebody who was not in tune with what their body was telling them.
A lot of times when heat struck you stop sweating, your body starts to shut down. And when that happens at first, you’re thinking, oh, I’m fine. I’m not sweating. Hold on. I must be really strong. And then, half an hour later, you’re, on the side of the trail and you can’t move. So, just being able to watch for those kinds of signs is important.
Amy Bushatz: So let’s talk about getting dressed for hot weather and maybe we can move into like, just your advice of look like again, neither of us are doctors here, but just your advice of watching for that humidity based heatstroke here in a little bit, but.
When we talk about dressing for the cold, it’s all about careful layering. And I always joke that I’d rather be cold than hot, cause you can put more on, but you can’t take more off
Joe Jacobs: That’s my mother, I remember my mother saying the same thing. She always liked the cold.
Amy Bushatz: I feel like taking everything off isn’t necessarily helpful, especially when you’re so, so sticky. Right? So, tell us if you want to be comfortable outside it specifically in humidity, because you mentioned like it’s wet as opposed to dry, how should you dress in that heat?
Joe Jacobs: Well, like I said, your body’s trying to sweat, but it can’t, it’s just humid, if it’s 98% humidity out there, what’s wet stays wet. So nothing evaporates. There’s no evaporative power.
So, if you’re wearing cotton, cotton just gets heavier and wetter and usually the material will start to fill up with water ,basically. And now you’re not getting any results from a breeze or anything. There’s nothing getting through now and you just start getting hotter.
So I always recommend synthetics. Even down to, if you’re hiking, don’t wear cotton underwear. I mean, this just sounds weird, but it gets swampy. You just use nylon or whatever. You want to be comfortable, and you want the water to be able to leave your body and get as far away from your body as possible. And, you know, if you’re wearing a nylon and a breeze comes up, you’ll cool off. It’ll actually feel better. One thing I noticed when I’m cycling a lot, particularly in the summer is we’ll stop for a second. You know, everybody stops at a trailhead and we’re waiting for people to catch up or whatever, and you start getting hot.
That’s when you really start getting hot, and you’re just standing there and as soon, and you’re sweating. And as soon as you start for the first couple of minutes after you start again, you actually feel a little bit, because you’re so wet and you’ve got a breeze now and I mean, that’s just, that’s key. It feels wonderful. But I get that in August, but you just have to go, okay. One of the problems is we don’t want to stop for too long and maybe we just slow down a little bit, but keep the breeze going.
Amy Bushatz: It’s so interesting to me hearing you talk about this, some of those principles are the same for being very cold, right? You don’t want to wear cotton because you want to wick, if you’re sweating, you want to move that water away from body so it doesn’t freeze. And you don’t want to stop for too long because in the instance of cold moving is what’s keeping you warm,
Joe Jacobs: Right. It is, it’s interesting. It’s just the only difference is you only need one layer usually. And so, I’ve become a big fan of, I don’t wear chamois when I ride, less than 10 miles of mountain biking. Just because it’s uncomfortable after a while. So I just wear a nylon shorts and I’m good. Those kinds of things.
Amy Bushatz: Explain some cycling jargon here, a chammois is what?
Joe Jacobs: It’s a little pad, that’s basically it’s, it’s your cycling underwear. It’s got a pad in it for comfort. Problem is it’s very comfortable in the winter, but in the summer, when it gets wet, it causes chafing, causes all kinds of things. I got to a point now where I ride enough that I really don’t need that on a short ride and I don’t use it anymore, and I’m way more comfortable. Plus it’s nice to be able to just get off the trail and go down to the local brewery and sit down and not be sitting in what feels like a diaper. It’s just a way I’ve changed things up a little bit and realized that I don’t need some things that were actually making me hotter and more uncomfortable.
Amy Bushatz: So you experimented with what you’re wearing, and for those who maybe don’t cycle very much, you can buy a variety of types of cycling shorts, and many of them have this chamois built into them. And it is a various padding like, of padding-ness and they do actually feel like a diaper. I have a pair of very, very well loved cycling shorts. When you get off of your bike and walk around in them, as you said, you feel like you’ve got something stuffed up between your legs and it’s weird. So, and I could see how it also be very moist in the summertime. And that’s not, that’s probably not that great,
Joe Jacobs: No, it’s just a little too much stuffing. And like mountain biking, almost any cycling I do anymore, I wear a baggy shorts. It just allows more breeze into me. Plus again, I have this affinity for heading to a brewery after I ride and I just feel more comfortable sitting around with a collared shirt and a baggy shorts on, no diaper. So, it’s great for that kind of stuff. So, and a lot of the heat stuff can be, I mean, it gets worse if you’re uncomfortable in other ways.
So whatever you find comfort in, go with that, but also remember that you want, nylons. And even wool does pretty good, if you do a really light wool. Like, I just got a smart wool shirt. It’s a long sleeve and it’s really lightweight. And I was riding in it the other night and started raining. And it was the best thing because it suddenly got cold and I’d been very comfortable riding in up to then when it was warmer and the sun was out, then it got it started getting dark, getting colder. We had a front come through, it started raining some. And when I got back to the house, it was perfectly dry. It was, I was comfortable the entire time. And I was like, this is the find here. So a good lightweight works really well.
Amy Bushatz: Hey humans did you know, you can officially join the Humans Outside 365 challenge and score some really cool and exclusive challenge swag, including a finisher metal and decal on HumansOutside.com/challenge? You’ll also get an outdoor challenge guide written by me for you, an exclusive challenge tracker and insider info all year long. You don’t want to be left out of this. There is never a wrong time to join the Humans Outside 365 challenge. So get going, join it today. Go to HumansOutside.com/challenge to learn more now. Now back to the show.
So you mentioned synthetic fabrics and now lightweight wool. You mentioned that you prefer the baggy shorts over the fitted ones, but broadly speaking is fit, like are fitted things better or looser?
Joe Jacobs: Oh, that’s an age old battle. I think most of the road cyclists really like the fitted stuff, racers, like the fitted stuff, less to get hung up on things, whether you’re mountain biking or if you’re on the road, that’s kind of a different environment. You’ve always got a headwind if you’re on the road, no matter what, even if you’ve got a tailwind you’ve got a little bit of a headwind. So you don’t need quite as much, you’re not so worried of something next to you, and all those are all synthetics. So, they soaked through and the water kind of goes through it pretty quick and that’ll help you be cool.
So I think either way is fine. It’s just, I’m more comfortable with the baggies these days. I used to wear all the spandex and all, but I got old.
Amy Bushatz: What about when you’re hiking or doing non- cycling, recreation in the heat. You know, you see, I don’t know, these outdoor or fitness companies selling like very fitted tank tops or anything like that, especially for women. Do you find that you and your wife enjoy having baggier things when you’re hiking or doing non cycling things?
Joe Jacobs: I think it’s really personal preference. My wife tends to like so wear spandex a lot whether she’s hiking or cycling, she does wear baggy sometimes, but usually, I mean the clothes, she has her biggest down thing with wearing clothes that are tight fitting, is that there’s usually not pockets to put her phone and that kind of stuff. So I got to carry keys, phones, everything, cause I’ve got the values with a big pockets on the side. So, but I tend to be in baggies, hiking, or biking most of the time. It’s just my comfort. So again, I think a lot of the heat stuff you want to, you want to be as comfortable as you could anyway. Because you’re going to be dealing with the heat and, you need to be able to focus on things that are going to keep you cooler. So.
Amy Bushatz: What about long sleeves versus short? You know, obviously wearing long sleeves is going to keep you warmer because your arms are covered, but also it could help you wick away sweat. It could protect you from the sun. Is that a consideration for living in the, in a hot humid environment? Obviously I think that’s very common in like a desert environment. So is that something you do in the, in humidity as well?
Joe Jacobs: I tend to wear long sleeve more often. You know, temperature the same, if it’s just hot out, I’ll wear a long sleeve possibly when I’m gravel riding in the Delta, which has no hardly any shade out there. So, I mean, we’re a little closer to the equator, the sun gets beats on you, pretty good here. And so, just for, you know, keep from getting sunburns and stuff like that a long sleeve is fine. And I’ll just, I mean, you can pick up champion long sleeve nylon shirt and it works fine.
And and then, but if I’m in the woods, mountain biking and I’m not really in direct sun a whole lot, I’ll probably go shortly.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So it’s, what I hear you saying is it’s considering where you’re going to be outside because while wearing a long sleeve top might be counterintuitive because you’re like, oh, I want to have on his little clothing as possible. Right, there’s a factor of there of getting that sun exposure, which can make you feel hotter than you would otherwise. And that, and so essentially you’re blocking yourself from just baking, even having sunscreen, you know, like you’re not going to burn, but you’re still gonna bake.
Joe Jacobs: Right. I mean, that direct heat is not to be laughed at it, but but again, keeping moving with the breezes is really helpful in the heat around here. Just sitting, like, I can come out on my deck and just sit out here and get pretty hot, pretty quick. I have to get a fan or something going to get some air moving if it’s not breezy out here. So, same thing when I’m out doing stuff in the woods, the longer I stand still at an aid station, or just talking to friends, the hotter I get.
Amy Bushatz: The finding the breeze while you’re cycling makes sense, because you’re, you are physically moving fast enough to make that happen. What about when you’re hiking, how do you handle like finding that sort of air movement while you’re on foot.
Joe Jacobs: Um, it’s a little tougher to do. Of course particularly versus mountain biking, it’s a lot easier to stay hydrated when you’re hiking, you can drink while you walk, which is not always the easiest thing to do on a mountain bike, unless you’re using a a hydration pack or something like that. But even then we have pretty rocky gnarly trails around here. So usually you stop to drink, unless you’re racing. So, with the hiking I just find it easier to stay hydrated. That’s and that’s an important piece also.
Amy Bushatz: I love the idea of putting a fan out, plugging a fan in and putting it on you’re hanging out because that can really create a way to spend time just in your own backyard that may not have been comfortable. And it’s such a simple thing. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before. I lived in the south and I never plugged a fan in, what was I thinking?
Joe Jacobs: I got a nice industrial sand to use in my garage, but it gets used on the deck more than anywhere else. Just set it up for one ad and let her go.
Amy Bushatz: Right. It makes perfect sense. My friends made fun of me because I did have a little battery powered fan for my son that I clipped onto the stroller when he was really, when he was a little guy. And they made fun of me, cause he there’s Huck and his fan. That’s his name, Huck. But I always felt like he was in this sort of encased fabric space without any air movement. And he was just looked like he was constantly melting, you know, just into a fat little baby puddle. And so having that fan made sense, but why not use that tool as an adult? And I’m not, you know, you can carry around a clip on fan. And I think we’ve all can visualize people doing that. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about like on your porch, industrial fan, or even a box fan, plug it into an outdoor outlets, snake a extension cord out your window, whatever, and get some air movement out there and make that space just a little bit more comfortable to hang out in.
Joe Jacobs: Right. Well, and my daughter played softball down here. That was pretty hot sports. She was a catcher, which meant she had all this equipment on all the time, a helmet with a mask and padding and everything. And so, when she come back in after she’d play, we always have this big box of just cheap washclothes that we’d keep in a cooler with ice and water, and she would pull that out, lay it over her head. And then she had a little fan, like you were talking about, and she would just sit there with that. And that would cool her right down. So, those kinds of things. A lot of times my wife and I work or manage aid stations on long runs and stuff like that. And if it’s going to be warm, we generally have a cooler full of washcloths cheap washcloths that we can just hand people on their run, they can go and just put it on their head or whatever, or wrap it around the back of their neck, that kind of stuff, which is really helpful.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I’m having a flashback right now to doing a race where they had that, but they ran out and I was very upset and hot. Like, gosh, darn it just cause I’m in the back maybe if I’m in the back, I need it more, just a thought.
Joe Jacobs: I was, I was on a Fondo ride one time and came into the aid stations and this was like, the Fondo rides are always next level, as far as the hospitality at the aid stations. And I’d been pulling a group for a long time and I was pretty hot and tired. Pull in there, and this girl comes up with a tray with nothing but cold, wet washcloths on it, it was like the best thing ever.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So you could easily, if you’re outside, with your kids or even just out of, I’m just like envisioning, pulling the minivan you’ve got kids into a park. Why not have a cooler with some ice in it? And a couple of washcloths like that just sitting in there, soaked in, sitting in there for the old family. And you know, when you’re getting hot, just take a break and do that. It’s just so easy to avoid spending time outside when it’s very hot. But I love this because what you’re suggesting or just some really a little bit of extra effort, but tools to make that happen. And instead of taking, you know, if you’re in the cold weather, your extra effort goes towards finding your mittens and getting dressed. I mean, it is a process, but in and in the heat, I love the summer because I feel like it takes me a quarter of the time to get ready for anything, because I’m not looking for a million different layers to put on, and then assembling them and then putting them on.
And, you know, why not take that a little bit of extra time to create those tools for yourself? Throw those washcloths a cooler, drops some, you know, bottled water in there too, to keep cold and head out that way and just use those really simple tools to make your time more pleasant.
Joe Jacobs: Right. And speaking of that, like, like I said, my wife and I work a lot of aid stations, both for cycling and trail running and that kind of stuff. And you can learn a lot by seeing what works at an aid station. Cause you’ve got people who are, like a couple of weeks ago, we were working a 50 mile trail run. And those people are working hard and it’s not that hot time of year, but making sure that there’s stuff with salt, that there’s stuff with electrolytes there. Those kinds of things that people can choose from that will help them because you forget when you sweat, you’re not just losing water, you’re losing salt and electrolytes. And so being prepared for that is really important. We spent about three years building a trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park as volunteers called the Jack Fork and we did a lot of it through the summers and all we get are early, but by the time we were done, it was middle of the afternoon for the day. And I always made sure that I didn’t just have water. I also had something else that would have, that would give me some salts, and there’s electrolytes, there’s a lot of drinks out there that are good for that kind of thing. You’re replenishing that will help you just as much as just water. So, being prepared like you’re doing some long race or whatever, what would you have at the aid station is a good thing to think about, to have out there when you’re working or playing outside.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So, what I hear you saying is take some extra time for those, just my little, they seem like little things like the washcloth with ice. But also think through your snack choices, In the winter time, if you live somewhere very cold, you probably wouldn’t and you were going to be out in the cold. You wouldn’t pack for a snack, something that’s going to phrase. But in the summertime not only do not want to pack something that’s going to melt because that’s the opposite problem.
Joe Jacobs: Chocolate doesn’t work.
Amy Bushatz: It doesn’t work like, and on the flip side, neither does caramel filled candy in that winter time. Right? It’s a tooth breaker. Even gummy things can get frozen and that’s not that great. But in the summertime you want to be thinking through about what your kind of snacks you’re packing for you, pack and for your family that are gonna check the box on helping you, not just being delicious. And so salty snacks are a great place to start for that because when you’re sweating a lot, you’re essentially losing electrolytes. But part of that is like you said, the salt. And of course spending time drinking water, if you have kids, I would say that’s finding ways to make the water more palatable a little bit.
I mean, I think water, regular water is great. Some people have a problem with that. Maybe not going all the way towards straight Gatorade, which is just sugar, but, they make hydration aids and different sorts of powders that you can put into your drinks that add just a little bit of flavor, not a lot of extra sugar, but also carry those electrolytes like you’re talking about. And they don’t have to be expensive. They carry the stuff at the grocery store.
Joe Jacobs: But one of the things was, you know, sometimes you have to remind yourself to take these things. In my adventure racing days, you have to work as a team out there, and we would always have somebody on the team who would have a, would have an alarm on their watch, like every half hour, it would beep at them just to remind everybody, okay, is everybody drinking? And that person would just like, has everybody been drinking and just keep reminding each other because you know, when you’re in a 20 or 36 hour race, you can, you’re using a lot, and if you’re not replenishing, you’re going to be in trouble particularly when it’s hot.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And so you’re so right about that. I also, I have, when I’m running a buzzer on my watch, that beeps every 40 minutes to remind me to eat, and then I have a separate buzzer that beeps every mile, that’s when I take a drink of something. And I’m not somewhere that it’s extremely hot as we’ve talked about, but there’s no reason why you can’t do that sort of a system if you’re outside, just hanging out, just playing like set a little buzzer, every 30 minutes and say, okay, quick a water bottle pit stop here. And you’re, you know, you’re the snack guy, yeah as we’ve talked about, I’m big fan of the snacks. That’s why we’re hanging out in our imaginations eating a snack. But I’m probably salty since we’re talking about hot. But you know, there’s no reason you can’t have that be your tool as well.
And that can make spending time outside in the heat, much more pleasant, because you’re not feeling like after the fact, like you’ve run a marathon just by being in the heat because your body is so exhausted from doing all that sweating.
So we’ve talked about, fabrics synthetic or like a lightweight wool versus cotton, which is.
Joe Jacobs: Cotton’s of no-no. I’ve got plenty of cotton t-shirts that I’ll wear hanging out of the house, but not to play outside really.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And then we talked about how really, the big thing here is make sure you are comfortable. So whatever style or fit makes you the most comfortable follow that lead, go with that, while pairing it with those different fabrics. Think about covering your arms. If you’re somewhere in direct sun or wearing a hat, you know, covering your head.
Joe Jacobs: I was going to say, make sure, hats are a good idea, particularly for hiking and stuff. You’ll have a helmet on when you’re mountain biking usually, but a hat is wonderful just for shade. I have a bucket hat, it’s got a kind of wide brim that, that’s what I wear when I’m just hiking or paddling. Paddling is the other thing you wind up in the sun a lot for when you’re doing that. So keeping that sun off your head and off your face is a good idea.
Amy Bushatz: Right. So wear a hat, create your own shade, I guess, is what, is what we’re saying. You know, so you want to protect your body from direct heat, that can also mean wearing sunscreen because nothing’s gonna make you feel hotter than a sunburn nor is that particularly good for you long-term so, that sunscreen is keeping you from being too hot as well. Covering your arms, if you’re in your body, if you’re in direct sun. Create your own shade with a hat, go with what feels comfortable.
Many people have trouble with chafing, with their thighs rubbing together or even their arms rubbing underneath to their side or their chest. I have trouble with chafing. Not hot here and I was chafing yesterday. That’s just how it goes for some folks. So cyclists know this well you can buy um, it’s like, uh, yeah, body blind. Yeah. And you can find that at like REI or a sports store and you essentially put it in the area that’s chafing to keep that skin from rubbing together and irritating because I’ll tell you what is really painful and makes you not want to go back out and do that again it’s chafing. So.
What activities do you recommend to people who are worried about being too hot, other than cycling, where you’re creating your own breeze? Or maybe even other than swimming? Because we can’t just sit in a cooling puddle all the time, as fun as that sounds. So what else you got?
Joe Jacobs: Okay, well, in Arkansas there’s a lot to choose from around here. Unfortunately we used to do a lot of caving around here, lot of spelunking the show caves are still open, but because of the white nose syndrome, which I don’t think you guys have up there, but was killing a lot of bats. A lot of the public caves have been shut down for that. So that’s kind of out, but there’s places that you can go that stay cool, for one. One of our favorite things, you go to Bull Shoals White River State Park, which is a big trout fishing park. And it’s right below a dam and the water comes out from below the dam. So it’s very cold. And at night in August, my wife and daughter have put their fleece on in the campground. Cause it, you get this cool fog through there at night and it just, and even during the day it’s cold.
So, there’s several other places like that in Arkansas, where you can camp kind of below the dam, which has always a cooler spot if you, if you just want to go camping. Time of day gets real important. Really early mornings the best time, it’s a little more humid, but it’s cooler and it just doesn’t feel as bad. And sometimes it gets a little cool, even. So, if you get out, like a lot of the cyclists around here, particularly the road cyclists will get out in the dark, in the morning and start riding then to get along right in for that day and try to be done before lunch. That helps a lot.
We have events here in the state, like in July, towards the end of July is the what we call the full moon. And so a 25 K and a 50 K run that doesn’t start until seven or eight o’clock at night. And that’s a blast. I mean, I go and I take pictures of that for the race organizers every year. My wife’s run it several times. It’s still hot. It’s still humid. You got to train for it. Most people aren’t training for it in the middle of the night, but it’s a little better than trying to run the race in the middle of the day you know, in summer. So, time of day gets real important. I normally like to ride, I’ll ride either first thing in the morning in the summer or later in the afternoon when it starts to the sun starts to drop a little bit. And usually the humidity will drop a little bit by then and you can ride some, but, so those are some of the things.
The other thing is working on acclimation. We used to have a cross country mountain bike race that was at the end of July every year, right here in central Arkansas. And it would, it was a hot race every year, very rocky course. And what I would do for the month before that race is like two or three times a week after I got off work, I’d go one, I go ride one lap of the course just right off of work. And it helped me get used to, for one, figuring out all the lines I wanted to use on the race, but also it was always hot. And I wasn’t going and trying to do two or three laps of it that the race would be. I’m just going to go do one lap and just get used to how that feels and what I’m comfortable with. It helps a lot. I got to the point, like there’s a section of that race as on an east facing hill. And so it would get sun first thing in the morning. My race usually was started around 10 or 11. So by then it was just an oven over there. And that’s where I always passed people because there were people who were not acclimated to it and it just drained them there.
I watched one guy ,I was finishing the race one year and a guy was just ahead of me, got to the top of the hill in that section. And I watched him just ride right off the trail and fall over. And I stopped there and I told the next guy coming by so we could get the EMS up here, but you know, he just wasn’t acclimated for it. He hadn’t been training in the heat. He decided I’m going to come out and do this race, even though I haven’t been riding all month, that’s not a good idea.
Amy Bushatz: So, what I hear you saying is find a spot that you can go to, whether that’s just regular outside time in your local park with shade or somewhere that’s maybe a little bit cooler. You’ll know it when you see it, to spend your outdoor time, use the tools you have. Whether that’s putting a fan on your porch or getting a cooler full of washcloths then dress according to how your comfort is, but also for, when and where to go outside, talk about, talk to yourself about rather scaling in. So just get used to it over time. So maybe you do your outdoor time, your bulk of your outdoor time first thing in the morning with your coffee, walk the dog before it gets really hot or in the evening after sunset.
But if you are somebody who really would rather spend time outside in the middle of the day, and it’s just prohibitively hot to you right now start spending a little bit of time out there at a time, go for a short walk and come back. And then just sort of increase your time incrementally and just like being cold works, you will find that you don’t notice it as much over time because you’re just used to it.
Joe Jacobs: Yeah. That’s you still wish it was a little cooler, but you know, you’re able to perform out there and feel somewhat comfortable. So.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. And at the end of the day, I mean, we you and I like to race and run and other people like to just hang out outside, but we’re all doing this because it’s something that we enjoy and feel like has a benefit for us, and we want to do more of it. But gosh, being uncomfortable is a great way to not want to do it at all.
Joe Jacobs: Yeah. That’s a, it’s all about comfort at first. Be comfortable and then watch for, do the things that will help keep you a little cooler and keeps you safer. And you’re fine.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Like we’ve like, we’ve talked about.
All right. Tell us before we wrap this up, if you have a favorite or most essential piece of outdoor gear, something that you just use and love that you can share with us.
Joe Jacobs: Oh, other than my bike You know my, my latest toy that I really like having with me, it’s funny because of the conversation, is a thermometer. I’ve got this little tiny thermometer that I can take with me. I can clip it on to things and I’m kind of a data freak. So it’ll let me know what the high was, wherever I was or what the low was. So if I’m camping in the winter, I can go, oh, wow, man, we camped down to 17 degrees last night, or in the summer I go, man, it hit a hundred and I was out there. I liked that. I like to see, what I can handle using that. And it’s just kind of fun.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, no, that’s such a fun recommendation. I never would’ve thought of that. And I, you know, I’m just looking at, at the temperature on my phone, or I have a temperature gauge outside, if nobody sweeps it off the porch in the snow. And I do the same thing with that. You know, it’s like a little street cred, but I love having the idea of having one that you take along with you, especially if you live somewhere where temperatures can vary widely by, if you’re, like you said at that campground, and that’s really cool versus maybe up on top of the waterfall, not so cool. Or the dam , rather. And that’s certainly the case here in Alaskaif only because we don’t have weather stations everywhere. Right? It’s not an urban setting. And so the, I know that the weather station down five miles from me can have a completely different, it can be very windy here and not windy there at all, or vice versa. And so, I want to know exactly how fast the wind is at my house, for example. So yeah, but the same thing goes with temperature, actual temperature. You know, did I really go for a run and negative 15? Or was it, you know, colder than that, that, or hopefully warmer.
Joe Jacobs: Every winter, every winter I have friends that I’ve known for 50- something years and we go camping in West Virginia every winter in January. And it snows, usually it’s very cold, but we all were looking for those bragging rights of how cold did it get. And so those little thermometers are like, oh, well look!
Amy Bushatz: Nothing wrong with that. I say, maybe that’s the voice of somebody who does something like that, but nothing wrong with that.
All right. As a final thing, do you have an outdoor memory that you just love? Something that you like to go back to? For me, I like to list think of a time I was racing through wildflowers. For example. I mean, I was just out on this spectacular run running through this field of mountain flowers in the middle of nowhere. Is, do you have a favorite memory that you want to walk us out with?
Joe Jacobs: When I, when I first got married, when I got married to my wife she uh, it’s about 20 years ago and we were I was already mountain biking, I’d been adventure racing and stuff. And I’d gotten her, she wasn’t really riding when I met her, I got her on a mountain bike. We went out and bought one and it was this old trail right across the street from where the bike shop was, the same trail that I first wrote a mountain bike on. And I said, well, we’ll just go over here and we’ll try out the new bike, which is a mistake, it’s a really tough trail. And so we did a lap of it. And during that lap, she endoed into a creek she went and over the handlebars into the creek wind up, sitting in the creek with her bike. I was like, oh no, did I mess this up? And we finished out the ride. We got back to the car, and I said, so what do you think? She goes, well, I want to do it again. This time I’m not going to fall. And that’s when I knew I’d made the right choice in wives.
Amy Bushatz: That’s a great memory, sharing something you love with someone you love.
Joe Jacobs: We’ve been riding together ever since, and now she blows me away. She’s pretty quick. It’s a really good rider.
Amy Bushatz: Joe, thank you so much for joining us on Humans Outside today. So value your advice and experience the thank you.
Joe Jacobs: Well this has been wonderful. So thank you very much.
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