Friday, August 1, 2008

velo inferno

Well, normally I get a ride home on hot summer day's with my Father inlaw who works 4 miles down the road. Now, I hear those of you out there who cower at a little heat, thinking that 4 miles is a long ways to go in 110 degree heat. Well, it is a lot better than 25 miles! My Father inlaw though is gone this week so I decided that although I did commute both ways on Wednesday, and though it would be quite an adventure to spend a few hours riding home in record heat, I did want to ride with the Brumbys tomorrow and wearing myself out just wasn't wise. So I compromised. I drove in to the park and ride and rode from there. That still gets me a spanky 15 miles each way.
What I was not expecting was the heat on the way in. Apparently we very nearly set a record for the hottest night and I could believe it as I rode my bike at 8 in the morning with the temperature a healthy 97 degrees! I was not looking forward to the ride home to say the least. In all fairness though I did get to stop by performance on the way home and pick up my new set of bibs and the new tire I had ordered(I have been buying these kevlar tires from Performance for $8 a tire and they hold up amazingly well and I have had no flats in 3000 miles on them).
Heat makes a rider take on different strategies. Out in the desert things sit in the shade and take it easy all day. Our brothers to the south call it a siesta. The point is to be lazy. 110 degrees is not conditions optimal for a best time. Not even for a good effort really. Easing off the throttle a little bit the breeze blows past and cools me down enough. Not cool, but cool enough. My frozen water bottle slowly melts and my bottle full of ice and water is slowly warming up. It is a race to see whether I will get the water down before it gets warm. I win. The other bottle has almost thoroughly thawed by now and I sip the cool refreshing memories of a chill far away. I think back to shivering my poor bones along the frontage road in February with Steve Jewell in the late hours of the evening at the end of a long day. Man that was cold. Perhaps this winter I will remember today's journey through the inferno of the streets of Phoenix in the summer. The asphalt that is buckling from the traffic and the heat. The waves of thermal energy rising from the backs of cars making the air blurry. The empty streets, full of cars but devoid of people. The people who have found cool hidey holes to sit in and be lazy. Folks smart enough to listen to the Heat Advisory.
It is possible to be alone in the city. On a day like this, riding down the road, there is no one in sight apart from the cars. Occasionally a poor person waiting for a bus is visible and fades from view again. Riding along the bikepath there are only ducks, begging me to join them in the cool water. Not a soul in sight. Just me, the ducks, and the, hmmm, cows. Yes, cows. There is one spot along the canal that goes by the last farm in Gilbert. Some stubborn old farmer is holding out and mocking the development that has surrounded him and walled him in. His poor cows are standing in the field, very still. They must be hot. Looking down at my bike computer I notice the temperature next to the canal is about 3 degrees cooler than other areas. It is a nice cool 107 degrees. I guess if the cows have to sit out in the heat, this is probably the best place to do it. Past the cows I see a cat lieing in the mud by a puddle. If a cat is lieing in a mud puddle you know it is hot. If I had a fur coat on in this heat, I'd be laying in a mud puddle too I think. I'm thankful for a nice cycling jersey that doesn't hold in the heat. Theres a headwind, but I am almost to the car. I feel like I could ride farther but my water bottle is about spent and the water is hanging on to it's last bit of coolness. I chug the last cool drops and pull into the parking lot to load up my bike, stow my gear, fire up the air conditioner and drift off into a cool dark hidey hole of my own.

No comments: