On May 17, 2008, mountain biker Georgia Gould collapsed near the end of a National Mountain Bike Series race in Santa Ynez, California. The temperature was around 100 degrees, and the Luna Chix team rider was way out front in the race. But after close to two hours riding hard in the heat, she could no longer steer her bike in a straight line, then she started tipping over. She finally stopped, climbed off her bike, and passed out. She came to but remained out of it.
"People started asking me questions like what month it was, and I couldn't answer," Gould told Fred Dreier of VeloNews.com. "I didn't know. Simple questions, and I'd be like ‘Give me a few minutes, I'll come up with the answer!' They asked me if I knew where I was, I said no. I had to think about it, and I kept thinking I was at Sea Otter (a spring race in California)."
The 28-year-old mountain biker quickly recovered from heat stroke and severe dehydration and has continued to race throughout the summer, officially making the U.S. Olympic team on July 1. But how will she have the confidence to go all out in Beijing, where August temperatures average in the high 80s with humidity to match?
At the World Championships in Italy in June - where the forecast was for another hot day - Gould and her team manager, Waldek Stepnioski, came up with a cool solution.
"Each lap I would take a small bag of ice in the feed zone," she wrote in her blog after the race. "I put the ice on the back of my neck (under my skinsuit), in my sports bra, in the front of my skinsuit, pretty much anywhere I could fit it."
She finished ninth at Worlds but more importantly, regained her confidence in the heat.
On July 12, she used her ice-bag strategy again at a hot NMBS race in New York and won.
Will she "ice" the competition at Beijing?
Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.