Friday, July 06, 2007

Thinking about heat

Date: July 6
Mileage: 89.2
July mileage: 91.7
Temperature upon departure: 57

Before leaving for my ride this morning, I put all of my handlebar bag gear in a little pile ... Nutrigrain Bar, Clif Bar, camera, extra wool socks and mittens. "Mittens," Geoff said. "It's July! You don't need mittens."

I pointed out that it was raining from the large bucket outside. "Once I get wet," I said, "my hands and feet are going to be cold. I don't care if its nearly 60."

As I set out into the downpour, I did have to pedal hard early on to generate heat. As I was doing this, I thought about Utah. Geoff told me that the state hit its all-time high yesterday, in St. George, with a 117-degree scorcher. It took me back to a ride I did in July 2002, when Salt Lake hit what was at that time its all-time high, 107. I decided to pedal to my parents' house in Sandy, which was less than 20 miles from my college commune. I set out with what I though was a reasonable amount of water - 64 ounces - and took my normal route along the pavement of 700 East. With visible heat waves wafting off the blacktop, it only took five miles before the soles of my shoes felt like they were resting on hot coals. By seven miles, my legs felt like they were twirling around a rotisserie. By 12 miles, I had sucked down every ounce of the water I was carrying. By 15 miles, I felt like I was about to pass out. By 17 miles, I was fairly sure I had cooked the protein in my brain beyond recovery. I was probably near heat stroke by mile 20. But the feeling was closer to a very toasty grave. I think about that ride sometimes when I am especially cold or soggy. I'm convinced that there are few situations worse than riding a bicycle in Salt Lake City in July. Give me below-0 temperatures any day.

Still, it is funny to go for a July ride and worry about hypothermia. Last summer, when the temperatures warmed up a bit and I let my guard down, I had a few seriously shivery rides. So I am much more cautious this year. It turned out to be all for naught. The sun came out at mile 20, and I found I couldn't stuff enough of my extra layers into my handlebar bag. I actually had my rain pants wrapped around my waist at one point.

I cycled out to the end of the road. It was much harder than the same ride three weeks ago. A front moved in and bumped up the south wind to 15 mph - a headwind I had to fight the entire 45 miles home that was definitely not there as a tailwind for most of the 45 miles out. Also, I think my recovery renaissance has ended. Now that I'm convinced my bad knee can handle these rides, the rest of my body feels comfortable rebelling again. Plus I (ironically) ran out of water. I left with a 24-ounce bottle thinking I would be able to refill it somewhere along the road, but beyond mile 17, there was nothing - no spigots, no stores, no parked trucks with five-gallon jugs in the back. Geoff tells me I should just drink out of one of the hundreds of waterfalls that line the road, but I am not brave enough to do that. At least, not when it's 60 degrees out and I have only 30 miles to ride before a known source of treated water.

Beyond that, though, I had a great ride. I was thrilled to pedal far enough north to hit some sunshine. Although ... I really hate wearing my bike shoes on longer rides. I think if I had any early-warning sharp pains in my knee I'd never notice, because I'm too heavily focused on my throbbing toes. In the future, for 5-hour+ rides, I'll probably just switch over my clipless pedals to the platforms. Good ol' platforms. Then I'd actually be able to do some hiking.

It is beautiful out the road, regardless of weather or other misadventures. I definitely need to toss the clipless pedals, buy another water bottle cage, and spend as much time out there as I can.

My favorite island, with some cool cloud formations in the background. Seriously, how will I ever be able to endure a non-Alaska summer again?

9 comments:

  1. I was only in Alaska for 9 days and it really wasn't that hot today but it seemed like it. The day we were in Homer the weather was amazing.

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  2. My advice is to never endure a non-Alaska summer again. My commute to work today was in 105 f weather. Yesterday too. Probably the same for the first half of next week. What global warming?

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  3. It never ceases to amaze me how your rides often end up being fairly long ones (at least in my book).89.2 miles is quite long for one water bottle in July.

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  4. ride the gdr... that'd be the best way to endure a non-alaska summer :)

    p.s. check your mileage for the month. you forgot to add yesterday's ride to your total.

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  5. Personally, I think that every time you drink from an unfiltered water source, you're accepting the risk of Giardia. Now, I know it's less likely to hang out in fast moving water, but you still run the risk, especially in populated areas (like Juneau). And from what I've heard, that's a bug you don't want to fight.

    Long story short: I think you're right to skip the waterfalls and go for treated water as long as you're not dying.

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  6. Jill, we had a XC race yesterday. I raced early and the temps were "only" 85 degrees. When the expert started, I think the temps were up in the mid 90ies....
    Actually when I race, I space out the heat, but it hits me later and then I can't help but think about it:)
    Oh, the race was in Council Bluffs, IA.

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  7. Jill, we had a XC race yesterday. I raced early and the temps were "only" 85 degrees. When the expert started, I think the temps were up in the mid 90ies....
    Actually when I race, I space out the heat, but it hits me later and then I can't help but think about it:)
    Oh, the race was in Council Bluffs, IA.

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  8. I enjoy your blog! I also think your rides are very long when you only have one water bottle. I switched from water bottles to a Camelbak.

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