Sunday, August 12, 2007

Severe Sun Advisory

Date: Aug. 11
Mileage: 25.1
August mileage: 294.0
Temperature upon departure: 71
Inches of rain: 0"

The National Weather Service issued an unofficial "Severe Sun Advisory" for Juneau this weekend. I guess the NWS feels it's necessary to warn Juneau residents that when that big yellow orb is burning in the sky and outside temperatures are approaching 80 (80!), they can't go outside without sunscreen and leave their dogs in cars and other things that they are able to do 95 percent of the year. Yes, Juneau-ites, the sun is in the sky. Head for the hills.

Today I hiked with Geoff to the top of Mount Jumbo, the highest point on Douglas Island. I think it may just turn out to be our only hike together this summer; now that he has seen how slow I am on the downhills, he will not take me hiking again. I don't know exactly what is wrong with me right now - whether I am out of practice, out of shape, or just a little too self-aware of my tender knee. Either way, it took us a comfortable 90 minutes to climb to the top, and a lumbering, leg-pounding two hours to get down with me in the lead. I felt like a wooden marionette flailing down the mountain, grasping and clawing at roots as gravity sucked me into an abyss. And it just kept going down, and down and down and down.

But it's worth it, because you can't beat the views at 3,500 feet. It really gives me perspective on where I live. It's so easy to get lost in the day-to-day out-and-back that defines my routine. The reality of Juneau is that it is a small speck on a very large, very craggy topo map. Whenever I feel stifled in my small town, I like to think of all those ridgelines stretching into the great beyond, and how I could wander for the rest of my life and never see them all.

The sun, however, actually has me a little worried. The weather forecast extends this high-pressure system late into the week, which means my ride Wednesday-Friday could be accompanied by something unexpected entirely: hot weather. With forecasted temps in the mid-70s in Juneau, it could reach the 90s in interior Yukon. Before you smirk at the irony of my concerns, picture this: I'm one of those light-skinned, light-eyed types who is naturally sensitive to sunlight anyway. Throw in the fact that I am in no way acclimatized to sun, and have no recent experience with hydration, eating or perceived effort in warm temperatures ... I may just wither out there. Or I may still freeze. But now I have no idea what to expect. I liked it better when freezing was a given.

Look at me. I'm complaining about a "Severe Sun Advisory." I really am from Juneau now.


  1. Hi Jill, Perhaps for the next year´s race you have to train in Spain.
    Regards and have a great race.

  2. Hi - I enjoyed my visit here this morning.. I gave you a shout out on my today's post on "alaska" ..

    I mentioned the severe sun advisory - I thought that was tooooo funny :)

    take care and happy day!

  3. Phenomenal pictures again (as usual).
    I am with you on the issue of heat vs. cold. I can typically keep myself warm with various layers, but the heat is harder to combat on a long ride (hydration, sunburn, etc.).
    Good luck with your epic journey; I can't wait to hear and see all about it!

  4. Hey Jill,

    We haven't seen temperatures even close to the 30 C all year so I wouldn't sweat it. Our normal summer temps are in the mid to low 20's.

    Good luck on the ride, perhaps we'll see you out on the road.


  5. I think you are the only person that would describe your routine as day-to-day out-and-back. You're more active than at least 95% of Americans.

  6. "severe sun advisory" ha, what a hoot! :-)

    Here in California the weather service issues winter weather warnings when the temps drop below 50 degrees. I've seen California bike commuters bundled up with balaclavas, ski goggles, heavy mittens, and parkas in the winter when it drops down to a bone-chilling 40 degrees sometimes. I *might* bundle up like that when it's 20 below.

  7. Ha, that is hilarious! I remember using sunscreen when I lived there - but i guess they are worried about people getting sunstroke or dehydrated. :-) Good news from Anthony, though.

  8. Get out the sunscreen!
    It is tough to make the gear/weather switch.

    Thanks for the kind words---I'm trying to convince myself that it's just an obstacle to get through, a temporary setback.

    Two friends have reminded me that regardless if I do the century ride or not, I'll have wicked strong legs for the upcoming ski season!

    Best of luck to you on your big ride!


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