How has more than a month passed since I last wrote in this journal? Time flies.
It’s been kind of crazy busy, and a lot of that has to do with the biking. I’m closing in on 1,000 miles for the year–assuming this weekend goes as planned, I will surpass that mark. And now I have a riding companion. My older daughter, Erin, is living with us temporarily while she is getting resettled here in Cleveland, and she has taken to this biking thing like the proverbial merganser to a lake. We are a well-matched team, and companionably putting in the miles.
July 4 was a bit of a challenge, though. Patti’s Paladin’s had a breakfast training ride, for which I assumed we would ride our usual 20-mile path. This is the path that is 5 miles steadily uphill, 10 miles of rollercoaster hills, then a 5 miles cruise back to Patti and Mike’s.
The predicted heat index for July 4 was 104 degrees.
So I was already steeling myself for this ride–though not really prepping myself, in that Ferrett’s birthday party was the night before and I didn’t actually get to bed until after 3am. And I had to get up at 6:30 in order to finish the fresh bagels I was making to take to the breakfast. (Which went over with great success, and many people being gobsmacked at the notion that anyone would make bagels at home!) So I wasn’t exactly rested and refreshed for the ride.
Then Mike informed us that the ride would be to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and back. Which meant that all the downhill was at the beginning of the ride. And we would have to climb back up the cliff face that is the climb back up to Cleveland Heights. At the end of the ride. In the mounting heat.
Erin and I started out with the rest of the pack. The rest of the pack consisted of 9 men who have a combined body fat of about 12 pounds, and that crazed look that says “25 miles an hour is an okay average speed, if you’re really not up to more” We were pedaling hard to keep up. On the downhill portion of the ride. Once we flattened out and headed west along the shoreway, I have to confess that I abandoned Erin to the tender mercies of one fellow rider who had stayed back to help her along. Mostly because I knew that if I slowed down to accommodate her, I would lose far too much momentum and we would just fall further and further behind. I had to just concentrate on the slowly receding rider in front of me and try to keep that distance from increasing.
By the time we pulled up under the trees at the Rock Hall, the temperature was 91, the heat index was 100, and I was vaguely nauseated. Erin pulled up behind me and said, “I think I hate you a little bit right now.”
It was all right, though; I hated me a little bit just then, too.
I could not imagine biking uphill all the way back to Mike and Patti’s. And I realized that we didn’t have to: we were already halfway to home, where Ferrett was still waiting for us to let him know we’d finished the ride and was planning to drive over for the post-ride picnic. Our house is at a much lower elevation. There would not be a steady, uphill ride with a big cliff in the middle!
Now, my friends on either coast will laugh at me for my struggle against this relatively minor elevation change. And I fully acknowledge that back when I lived in Alaska I used to bike up and down mountains. But I have to say this in my defense: I’m old and fat! Also, humidity is a bitch, and so is heat. If it had been in the 70s, I would have attempted the ride back.
With weather that felt like 100 degrees? No. Bloody. Way.
So Erin and I continued west, accompanied briefly by this collection of bike warriors. We biked along the shoreway and through shaded neighborhoods, and that part was good.
Then we got back out into the sun, and things began to go pear-shaped. Neither of us is good with heat, and the sun was beating down on us with mid-day intensity. We were still drinking water, and still moving forward, but our pace was going off and we were starting to get leg cramps. By the time we were 3 miles from home, I was genuinely worried about heat exhaustion.
Did I mention that there was a Severe Heat Warning in effect?
Fortunately, I remembered that there was a McDonald’s nearby and steered us toward those golden arches. I never imagined that I would find myself this grateful for the existence of fast food. We locked up our bikes and staggered into the blessed air conditioning. Erin was trembling. We ordered large drinks and grabbed packets of salt and sat for 20 minutes in the cool, gulping down iced beverages and eating salt straight from the packets. Recovered, we were able to finish the ride back to the house, showered, and went back for food and companionship. But it honestly took most of yesterday for us to really feel recovered. I honestly think we were on the edge of being in serious trouble. And I hope this heat breaks soon, because I can’t imagine going through this for 75 miles.
Oh, and I also made the next bread in the BBA challenge, cranberry celebration bread. I was just as unimpressed with it as I expected to be, but at least it’s over now!