Saturday, August 2, 2008

Water is Life

Paul awakes, hmmm, seems awfully light for a quarter to four....Doh! Yes, indeedy in my thorough preparations I had forgotten to turn the alarm on after so carefully selecting the time to wake up. So, seeing as the Brumbys were now a good ways up the beeline I had to select a ride for myself and deal with the fact I might have to shorten it somewhat due to the heat which was building with every minute I delayed. There really was one choice in the matter if I wanted to include some hills (which I did). I would be heading out past Saguaro Lake and maybe even up the beeline highway a bit if I felt spunky.

I had 2 26oz water bottles on the bike and figured whenever I got close to running out would mark where I turned around and headed back to Saguaro lake. It was amazing how many cyclists were out today. Even in the later parts of the morning. Having loaded up on water and waffles before leaving I found I didn't need to start drinking until I started the climb up Usery Pass and i wouldn't need to eat all morning leaving my bottles to contain only water.

Water is one of those things you take for granted. It comes free out of our taps, some prefer to buy it. It falls from the sky. It is a resource often forgotten. Although, any desert dweller who has not been abstracted from their environment will tell you that water can be worth more than gold. Water is life, as an endurance run up on the Hopi reservation states. Without water there is dust, and most things without water return to the same.

Climbing up the hunt highway past Saguraro lake I find my last bottle slowly getting empty. Turning up the Beeline I have less than a half bottle left and the temperature is 93 degrees. There's not much life left in the bottle. I keep a look out for a place to cross over to the other side but find none. Right at the top of the hill before the four peaks turnoff I decide I have pushed it as far as I am going to push it. It's a good call. After wading through the brush in the scenic median I am cruising down the other side back to the Hunt Highway exit. By the time I get there I am out of water. Good thing it is downhill to Saguaro lake.

Saguaro lake is one of those Water'n holes out in the desert, an oasis for dehydrated cyclists to stop and refill their bottles. Last time I sauntered into the Marina I filled my bottles out of the faucet on the back of the restaurant. Thinking that perhaps some a little more sophisticated as a drinking fountain may be present I ride around the building and find the restaurant does indeed have have a REFRIDGERATED drinking fountain. More than that, it has a bench overlooking the lake. I sit at the bench and look over the lake and the many boats in the marina below. For some reason I get the song "Brandy" stuck in my head (I guess it doesn't help I have been learning this song on the guitar since a picture of the sea in my inlaws house reminded me of it). Of course in this version of the song there is a jet ski, a powerboat, and Brandy works in a restaurant I guess. Good thing the guys that wrote the song didn't live in Phoenix (incidentally the group is "Looking Glass", probably the most famous song no one knows the band name of).

I downed both refilled bottles before leaving and filled them again. The climb out of the marina clocked in at a healthy 9% grade. For some time now I had scaled back the exertion due to the rising temperature (it would be over 100 degrees by the time I got home). It is truly amazing how much better the human body is able to cope with heat when it has plenty of water in the system. I kept seeing the temp rise on my bike computer and still felt fine if I didn't push too hard.

Descending the hill down to water users a motorcycle club passed me. What I took for a small rock getting kicked up by the motorcycles and stinging at first, mysteriously stung again, and again. Hmmm, odd sort of rock I thought. Odd sort of stinging painful stupid &%&%&%$# rock. Upon reaching down to remove the rock I crushed something that felt like an insect. I was going 40 miles an hour at the time so I couldn't see if it was a wasp or a bee but I think it was a wasp. I had a very painful nasty welt to show for my wisdom at descending the hill with my jersey unzipped. Fortunately the pain subsided a bit down the road.

Climbing Usery Pass despite taking it easy I passed a guy who looked like he was struggling. He was drenched with sweat and breathing hard and I made a mental note to make sure he made it to the top before I would head for home. I did double back to check on him but there seemed to be quite a few cyclists out considering the temperatures. He probably would have been OK anyway. I chatted with him for a mile or two and he said he has ridden around 200000 miles since the early seventies when he started riding to work in the first gas crisis. I felt funny for wanting to go back and check on him since he is a lot more seasoned than I am. Still, I remembered a few years back when I got a pretty good case of heat stroke on this same hill in similar temperatures.

Heading for home I chased down one guy I thought might be a Brumby but it wasn't. I enjoyed the descent down McDowell and then Power. Pulling into my driveway the temperature was 100 and I was just downing the last water in my bottle. All told, I drank around 160 oz of water and rode 55 miles. A little shorter than I had been planning on but it was a bit later and hotter than I had originally planned too.

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