Thursday, August 04, 2005

I'm melting! Melting!!!

It was 104F when I rode home yesterday. Heat rose up from the pavement in waves, feeling exactly like opening an oven door. I drank an entire water bottle before leaving for home, then drank 2 more on the way. And it’s only about 10 miles.

The kids gave me a heart rate monitor for Father’s Day a few years ago. I use it as a rev limiter when it’s hot. My heart rate hits about 110-120 just walking across the parking lot, and climbing or sprinting send it up to the alarm limit in a matter of seconds. The weird thing is that I don’t feel like I’m working hard, but my heart certainly is.

Most of the dogs along the route simply can’t be bothered to chase a cyclist in this heat. The only ones that take an interest are some little, yappy ones that are comfortably caged in the shade. There’s one larger dog that chases back and forth along the inside of a fence. He takes too keen an interest, and I suspect that if he were loose he’d be very aggressive. But he’s got to be as dumb as a stone, running at full speed in the heat.

I’ve been riding the Giant since the Bianchi is still hanging in the repair stand out in the garage. (More about the Bianchi in another post.) The Bianchi has three water bottle cages, but the Giant has only two. When it’s been really hot – and I’ve been out there on the bike when it was 115F – I carried two bottles to drink and another to pour over my arms, legs, and chest. That caused an immediate ten beats per minute drop in my heart rate.

It’s not much exaggeration to say that if a cyclist falls on the pavement, he may cook if he lies there awhile.

I have a couple of Camelbacks, and I’ve used them for long day rides. But water bottles are easier to care for, and they’re more convenient for commuting. I can’t squirt a Camelback at a charging dog, for instance, and I can’t easily pour water onto my arms and legs. Oh, I suppose I could just spit some, but that’s too gross even for me. This from a guy who takes perverse satisfaction in shooting snot rockets in traffic!

When it’s this hot, a tailwind isn’t necessarily a blessing. Without some wind going by, it feels so much hotter. Granted, a headwind or a cross wind doesn’t offer much cooling and it certainly makes me dehydrate that much faster, but I’ll take any cooing I can get! I’ll even slow down to linger in the shade of some trees, or scan the sky for a small cloud to ride under.

On the other hand, I could drive to work.



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