Friday, June 19, 2015

Charged Up By the Summer Heat

Infrared thermometer shot of the pavement in Phoenix on June 19, 2015

The temperature reached 114°F today then dropped down to 111°F by commute time. The bike rack was full, and I saw several other people riding home in the dry wind, which is perhaps the most taxing aspect. By commute time, the sun is lower in the sky, so it is less of a factor. But that oven-like wind can be a challenge, for sure. 

But I also hear everyone complain about getting into their cars in the heat. Getting burned by the seatbelt buckles, steering wheels too hot to hold, inside the car sometimes even hotter than the pavement in the photo above. Yeah, that's no good. I'll take the bike anytime.

I down a couple of cups of ice water just before I set out. It's probably mostly in my head, but thinking about that cold water inside me is a booster. The past few months have been acclimitization for me, slowly working up to this temperature. I don't recommend that someone just jump in and try commuting ten or twenty miles in it without getting used to it, knowing your limits, understanding your own hydration needs and heat tolerance.

Just tonight, I saw a police helicopter circling over one of the mountain parks, which this time of year always means hiker in trouble, someone without enough water, or someone who suffered what would be a moderate problem in milder weather suddenly finding a twisted ankle life-threatening. Extra water, extra water always.

I stopped to pump up someone's tire earlier this week. Nobody should have to walk their bikes home in this heat, and I somehow feel I'm storing up good will by stopping to aid others. Even if it doesn't work like that, it's OK, it's the right thing to do. Like commuting by bike, I guess.

Tree pod beans, the same or similar to the ones that can be smashed up into a semi-sweet flour for baking

Earlier this year, I tacked on an extra two miles to get a little more exercise on my commute home, and most nights I'm still doing it. It's interesting, throwing this new pattern at my body, mind, and metabolism, some new and different route compared to the one that's been engraved on my muscle memory the last six years. 

Now the heat is adding an additional new element to to the change matrix, a little bit of, "Whoa, this isn't the same hot commute we've done before, is it? This one has a little more open sun, a little more canal bank, a little more straight and fast, a little more dehydration," and sometimes the naysayer, the blocker, the doubter speaks up and suggests that perhaps when it's 111°F I might ignore the WALK signal and turn right onto the normal route rather than heading off on the extra two. So I tell it that if the signal tells me to WALK then I ride regardless of the weather, and somewhere I think my Father's lingering presence says, "Yes, that's right son, don't let the weather dictate your travel plans." I arrive home elated, and a little cooked. The cold water feels like life pouring into me.



  1. Some serious heat there for your ride.....

    1. Yes, right now a cool evening in England sounds pretty good. Or France. Or rural Pennsylvania. Or...

  2. It's all good till you stop moving then the heat really happens. Come to think of it isny this how convection ovens work? Stay cool. =)

    1. Stay cool takes on a clear and powerful meaning when you're near to accomplishing it on a bicycle in traffic in 111°F. Aggressive hydration to counter the convection oven insofar as physically possible is our little secret.


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