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Biking to Death [Jul. 6th, 2012|09:22 am]
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!

Crossposting from Dreamwidth now. Sigh. If LJ won't let you comment, you can comment here: http://zoethe.dreamwidth.org/795535.html?mode=reply:

[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2012-07-06 01:58 pm (UTC)
You have my undying admiration.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-06 02:51 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm still here to appreciate it!
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[User Picture]From: fallconsmate
2012-07-06 02:30 pm (UTC)
PLEASE take heat warnings seriously. good grief. especially when you're no spring chicken (as we no longer are) and still working on getting into terrific shape.

i'm happy you have a biking partner, though, and are persevering so well with the riding!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-06 02:44 pm (UTC)
I have definitely let go of the biking for a few days--it's just way too hot, and that ride made me take it more seriously.
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From: angela_n_hunt
2012-07-06 03:32 pm (UTC)
You are *awesome*, but yes, please, please be careful. Heat exhaustion is nothing to fuck around with.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-06 04:57 pm (UTC)
We worked out in the cool of the basement today, believe me.
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From: simulated_knave
2012-07-06 03:52 pm (UTC)
Glad you survived. But Serious Heat is Serious Business - be careful.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-06 04:58 pm (UTC)
Definitely taking it seriously!
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[User Picture]From: mplsindygirl
2012-07-06 04:39 pm (UTC)
You may be "old and fat" but you also showed wisdom at taking yourself off the hard road and into the shelter of the Fallen Arches (as I call it). I skipped riding altogether on the 4th, even though there was a NO Pants ride here. Most of my rides are 5-10 miles one way, with a break of at least an hour before riding home or onward. I've been very careful in the heat to go slow and drink lots of water and keep salted, too.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-06 05:04 pm (UTC)
As the heat is supposed to break Sunday, Erin and I are planning a 60. With a leisurely lunch break at the turnaround point! But I'm staying in from the heat for the next couple days.
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From: anonymousalex
2012-07-06 06:56 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear you're still alive; slightly annoyed to hear you've been trying so hard to not be. Take care of yourself, that you may live to bike another day.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-07 04:26 pm (UTC)
Staying inside right now. It's definitely too hot to be out there.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2012-07-06 08:35 pm (UTC)
I think that you are way too brave for your own good. I at 37 would probably have punked out of the ride because of the heat. I'm sure that there were probably air quality warnings too....I'm just glad that you are okay...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-07 04:50 pm (UTC)
It wasn't my brightest move, and I was by far not the only one out there. Today, however, it shall not be.
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[User Picture]From: gythiawulfie
2012-07-06 10:36 pm (UTC)

Kudos to you for trying

I will tell you this... do not feel bad. I used to be out for hours at a time in this heat... never mid day, but early morning and late afternoon.

Now? I think back on those days and I am surprised I didn't drop dead. I was training for triathalons back in my late teens and early 20's. I ran track meets in this heat... ALL DAY.

Do not feel bad about the heat... next year, it may not bother you as much. It does take time to adapt, but as we age, it gets harder.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-07 04:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Kudos to you for trying

I am not giving up, believe me. I hope it's not that hot for Pedal to the Point, though.
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[User Picture]From: delosd
2012-07-06 11:30 pm (UTC)

What a ride

Woman of incredible mobile two-wheeled awesomeness! You have my admiration. (And your daughter too. :) )
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-07 04:55 pm (UTC)

Re: What a ride

Thanks, hon. It was quite the ride. I shall pass on your admiration to Erin.
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[User Picture]From: blessed_oak
2012-07-07 10:23 am (UTC)
That's amazing -- but I'm glad you found the McDonald's when you did!

I keep hearing them compare this weather to that year back in the 1980s when it was ~100 degrees for weeks. But that time, it was dry. This humidity is impossible.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-07 05:21 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely NOT a fan of the humidity.
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[User Picture]From: lunabird
2012-07-07 04:44 pm (UTC)
This East Coast gal certainly isn't gonna make fun of you -- I got dehydrated and got to experience the wonders of heat exhaustion at the beginning of this heat wave a couple of weeks ago. I sat inside my work and watched the room spin occasionally while I drank water and wondered if I was going to faint for a couple of hours while I waited for my boyfriend to get off of his work and drive me the half mile to my car that I could not walk. (The scariest part is that I had to drive the car home so I could go to work again the next day. The water had helped but I was still pretty light headed. I very, very, slowly drove the car home with him behind me on roads that were basically otherwise empty. This town shuts down after 10 PM)

There's not been a day since then that I've not been made to feel at least a little sick by the heat if I've been exercising outside basically at all.

This is not the weather for a 'no pain-no gain' attitude. This is the weather that the moment your body starts to complain you flipping listen, drink something hydrating, and sit down. What you did was 100% the right thing. Good on you!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-07 05:23 pm (UTC)
Staying inside is definitely the plan for today. I just hope we get the promised weather break tomorrow. Ugh.
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