I realize that our air quality standards, in the United States, fall just inside the range of 'kooky and hilariously useless.'
By the time our Air Quality Index suggests that perhaps highly-active people and those of us with asthma and other lung issues should probably begin to think about maybe possibly reducing our effort a little bit, the rest of the world is like, "OMFG if u go outsaied u r gonna DIE!" Or, put a little more delicately, "Members of the human race and other sensitive groups may want to write and file a last will and testament before engaging in strenuous outdoor activities such as walking or sitting on the porch while sipping iced tea."
That said, there is essentially nothing I can do about the air quality index that I'm not already doing, save turning off the AC. Since our house has the airflow of your average crypt -- exactly no windows in this house, whose floor plan was apparently designed by an untrained monkey,or possibly a poorly-educated goldfish, are set up for cross-ventilation -- I am pretty certain that its indoor temperature would quickly exceed 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and we would soon all be crispy and golden-brown ... and dead.
Thus, the AC stays on. Beyond that, I could quit driving ... oh, yeah, I'm already not driving. I guess I could quit breathing, since breathing releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but I'm pretty sure that would probably kill me, and I like being alive. It works for me. Come to think of it, I could also further localize my life -- something DD and I are very much focused on. So I'm doing a great deal of what I can do to impact the local air quality, and I've decided that's half the battle.
The other half is deciding that I am in control of how air quality impacts my daily activities.
Last year, I did a lot of obsessing about air quality. Frankly, it made me miserable. I didn't ride when the AQI was worse than 'moderate,' which meant there were a lot of days in the summer that riding the bike was out of the question. When I don't ride, I tend to succumb rather quickly to ridiculous bouts of whiny, mopy, emo-tastic depression. I also get cranky, and then I feel guilty about being cranky, which further increases my depression.
Meanwhile, if I ride when the AQI isn't great, my asthma might get aggravated -- but, frankly, I can much more easily treat my asthma than I can my depression. My experiences with medication for depression have been ... well ... depressing, to say the least.
So this year, since I've acclimated well to the heat, I plan to keep rolling on the bike. The idea is to try to apply Rule 5 a bit more. I'm pretty good with Rule 5 where cold weather is concerned, and also where continuing to ride even though your legs want to explode is concerned; now it's time to see how much Rule 5 I can add to my life where hot weather is concerned. I am mildly worried that this will weaken my cold-weather resolve, but perhaps if I continue to ride outdoors through the transitional phase commonly known as the 'annual foliage variegation period' ... er ... Fall ... I won't have trouble with the cold, either. We Shall See.
I've learned that getting a solid warm-up in definitely helps in this regard -- as in all other regards -- so I've taken to spinning an easy gear for a few miles when I set out. Likewise, simply not paying attention to Air Quality reports seems to help. DD lets me know when it is bad enough that he thinks I shouldn't be out in it, but trusts my discretion -- in other words, he knows I carry my inhaler at all time and will call him if it turns out to be too much for me. As long as I am careful, I think he would rather see me putting the miles in and being happy than sitting at home and being grouchy.
So I've decided to treat AQI the way I treat the news of current events not related to cycling -- that is, I will ignore it completely, and trust the Universe to tap me on the shoulder when I really need to know about it.
That said, I did get a tap on the shoulder about today's AQI, so I'm going to try to get out there and ride while it's still in the 'moderate' range.
Happy summer, y'all! As I said yesterday ... ride early, ride often!