Keeping cool in the heat of the Amgen Tour of California

May 17, 2014
Category: General  Health Tips 

One of the big stories this week at the ninth Amgen Tour of California has been the oppressive heat wave blanketing the entire state resulting in triple-digit temperatures. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ramin Modabber spoke to the media after Stage 7 in Pasadena to discuss how the riders, race staff and spectators were affected.  

Earlier during the post-race press conference, Ben King (Garmin-Sharp) was asked how many bottles he has been consuming during the stages. “I’m drinking about a bottle and a half per hour.”

Dr. Modabber said that he has not had to treat a single rider for heat-related issues during this year’s race. He attributes that to “their preparation and anticipation of the heat, how they train and how they’re prepared for it.

“You’ve got to remember that these are the biggest engines around and they do everything they can to keep hydrated. So they start the day as hydrated as possible and they try not to lose too much throughout the day,” said Dr. Modabber, a Santa Monica-based orthopedic surgeon who has been the race doctor for the Amgen Tour of California since its inception.

Dr. Modabber said that each team will go through over 100 bottles per stage for the eight-rider squad with each athlete taking between 12 and 18 bottles. “These guys drink 6 to 8 liters per day of fluid with half of that being just pure water and half of it being some type of fuel/electrolyte combination. They’ll do everything they can to keep their core temperature down both from a hydration standpoint, but also they’ll use those socks. We have them in all our vehicles and their team vehicles most of them have it, too. It’s like a little panty hose or a sock. We put ice cubes in them and they stick them sort of on the back of their neck and let it melt over time just trying to keep cool while they’re working. But those are the two biggest things (they can do).”

According to Dr. Modabber, the heat has claimed its shame of victims this week. “A lot of spectators and a lot of folks that work the race that stand on the street corner. They’re very dedicated to the cause. They kind of forget and they’re doing their job forgetting to eat and drink. They’re standing on their feet all day so we’ve had a couple of those incidences. Thankfully nothing serious.”   

In fact, The Insider played a role in getting medical attention to a fan at the top of Mt. Diablo during Tuesday’s Stage 3. The gentleman had been quietly sitting near me and seemed fine. Then he asked if I knew where the medical unit was located. By this time, the man had been cramping so intensely that he could not get up from his chair and could not walk. Immediately I alerted two of Dr. Modabber’s staff members, who happened to be located in the medical tent not 20 meters away. They treated him for more than an hour, but he was too severely dehydrated. He left the mountaintop in an ambulance and thankfully he’s well now.