walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Friday, August 05, 2011

In Case You Hadn't Noticed, It's Still Hot

On Wednesday, I undertook a journey of somewhat-less-than-epic proportions (about 35 - 40 miles, sum total; I haven't mapped it yet, so I'm not sure what the whole of the damage was).

When I left home at about 11:20, the ambient temperature was warm, but reasonably comfortable.  I stopped by Fourth Street live to buy stamps, briefly visited our Market Street shop to drop off the Fourth Street Shop key, and then headed up to school in New Albany.

On the way out, the temperature remained warm but comfortable; a light tailwind gave me a welcome boost over the 2nd Street Bridge.  I rode the whole distance out in the big ring (in part because I didn't sufficiently adjust my front derailleur cable after flipping my stem, so now it makes an annoying noise when I'm riding the small ring, but I told myself it was entirely because I was feeling awesome).  I had the motivation-increasing experience several times of encountering inclines I used to consider 'hills' and finding that they weren't so hilly after all.

At school, I stopped to drop off some paperwork at the Financial Aid office, return some flagrantly-overdue library books (amazingly, I was not drawn and quartered on the spot), and grab some lunch (it was 1:20 when I walked into the campus coffee shop that closes at 1:30, but they kindly provided me with a chicken salad sandwich, a Coke Zero, and a cup of ice without once saying, "PLEASE LEAVE US ALONE WE ARE TRYING TO CLOSE," which I'm pretty sure I would've been tempted to do, but that's why I don't work there, I guess).  At around 1:40, rehydrated, re-caffeinated, and fed, I headed back out into the ...

Blistering heat?

Somehow, between around 12:44 -- when I arrived at campus -- and 1:40ish, the temperature had soared from 'tolerable' to 'really annoying.'

Oh, and the wind had not shifted, though it had picked up.  I am eternally subject to the 'headwind out, headwind back/tailwind out, headwind back' type of weather.  I am almost never fortunate enough to catch a tailwind on the return leg of any ride.

Of course, this did not immediately concern me.  I was experiencing a caffeine-induced surge of imaginary strength.  Besides, I told myself, I never mind a little headwind -- it just adds a bit more challenge to the ride.

So I cruised merrily down Klerner, turned left on Mount Tabor, left again on Charlestown and right onto Blackiston Mill -- and there I caught sight of the elusive Caprolagus Bicycularis: the fabled Bicycle Bunny that something in my nature requires me to chase.

And chase I did.

And chase.

And chase.

At first, he was but a flicker of black and white way, way up ahead -- I lost sight of him several times before I closed the gap enough to keep visual contact even around curves in the road.  I worked and worked and worked and worked, and eventually became aware that I was not, in fact, feeling so strong after all -- and then because I am stubborn and an idiot I kept working, because I was absolutely determined to catch that rabbit if it was the last thing I did.

At the Guilford Road crossing, I was one car length behind him (he was at the stop line; I was behind a a car -- I don't generally filter up to the stop line).  He got a bit of a lead after the light turned, since the driver ahead of me was totally oblivious to both the world (I think she was talking on the phone) and to the important bicycle race going on right behind her, and didn't actually get moving until someone behind me honked to let her know the light had changed -- so once again, I gave chase ... and that's how it was until Triangle road, when my rabbit skated through a light that I missed by a 'hare' (sorry, I couldn't resist).

He turned left onto Eastern; since Eastern is long and straight and I never saw him again after that, I can only assume he turned off of Eastern onto some side road somewhere.  I never actually succeeded in catching him, though I did come close.

What I did accomplish, however, was totally cooking myself.

Exhausted and marginally demoralized (though also somewhat pleased with myself for coming as close to catching the elusive rabbit as I had), I spent the rest of the Indiana portion of the ride using the magical formula: "I can make it to at least the next bus stop."  And so I did -- and the next, and the next, and then back over the bridge, into a killer headwind, grinding away at a cadence of roughly 75 in 53 x 23, telling myself, "I can always pull over and walk on the sidewalk."

And then I was over the bridge, coasting down the far side.  A stoplight snagged me at the bottom of the ramp; there, I sat in the sun, broiling (I could feel my skin burning) and also nearly out of water.

I made a pact with myself: Make it to Broadway alive, and you can ride the 23 to your appointment.

Then, because I had decided that I was going to take the bus, I made a bit of an effort between Main and Broadway.

At Broadway, I caught a bus by the skin of my teeth (no, not literally; 'teeth skitching' is discouraged by the American Dental Association).  Unfortunately, in my eagerness to sit down on my butt and enjoy some air conditioning resting my legs for a few minutes, I had misread the route marquee.

Of course, I didn't realize this until we turned onto Shelby Street.

Briefly, I considered disembarking and sending myself on a forced march to my therapist's office -- but the allure of the velvety bus seat and AC kept me in my place -- even though I quickly realized it meant getting out at Goss and Eastern and riding the climb on Eastern that is a sometime bugbear for me (the self-same climb that shouldn't be hard, but sometimes -- for reasons unknown -- is).

Meanwhile, the bus encountered a train crossing, and for once nobody complained.  I think there was a tacit agreement among the riders of said bus that it was far better to sit in the cool of the bus than just about anywhere else, right then.

All too soon, however, we had reached the intersection of Eastern and Goss.  I gathered my bicycle and my wits, and with fifteen minutes left to bang out the rest of the ride, I rolled through a left-turn light and hammered down the descent from Goss to ... a red light.


For some reason, getting stuck at the red light where the medical center on Eastern sits drives me nuts.  I suppose it's because coming to a full stop A) cuts short the thrill of the descent and B) absolutely destroys one's momentum.

Fortunately, although I dreaded the climb, it didn't feel like much.  My legs had recovered a bit, though I was, by now, completely out of water.

Fortunately, from Goss and Eastern, the ride to my therapist's office is only about ten minutes or so.  I made it with time to spare, which is good because I had totally forgotten to take out any money to pay her.  Oops.

To make a short story long, by the time I made it to Dottie's office, I was a sweltering mess of sweat, salt, and fatigue.  The upside was that I had reached that point at which one's body is no longer on speaking terms with one's mind, and therefore if my legs protested at being asked to the stairs, I wasn't aware of it.  I was aware only that at the top of the stairs there was water, which -- while insufficiently cold, given the egregious heat of the day -- proved suitably wet.

An hour later, I was off and running again: back to Eastern via Norris, then down Eastern to ... Dairy Kastle.  Sadly, though, I was too cooked to enjoy anything so rich and sweet as one of their delicious milkshakes, and had to settle for a hot dog and a diet Pepsi.  Then, having ingested said repast, I headed for Kroger.

It had been my intention to collect a few groceries and ride the remaining four-ish miles home -- but DD had other plans.  He texted and asked if I wanted a pick-up.  I considered, then shot back, "That would be awesome!"  Besides, I could carry more stuff that way.

Suffice it to say, on Thursday, I did not ride my bike.  Not even a little.  In fact, pretty much all I did was fold laundry and watch old episodes of Dogtown on Netflix.

There have been hotter days this summer -- and even hotter days (or at least, days just as hot) that I rode farther, like the day of the 100k.  However, excepting the 100k, there hasn't been another day this summer that I worked as hard in the heat as I did on Wednesday.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to fall -- and not just because Fall means 'cross season.  I have officially turned the corner, I am done with summer for 2011.  School starts later this month, anyway, which means I am really very nearly done with summer for 2011 anyway.

So here's looking forward to fall, the season of chilly mornings and brightly-colored leaves (my old roommate calls it the 'foliage randomization period'), of sweaters and actually having to be out of bed before 10:30 in the morning and most of all, of awesome fall bike rides.

And now I'm really going to go ride my bike, like I said I was going to an hour ago.

PS - Today's ride was much, much cooler.  Also, much less work.

PPS - My weight stands at 175.4, whence it has stood since, like, before Chicago.  I'm pretty stoked about that, since Chicago meant four days with no bike (and plenty of food), and was followed by a brief day on the bike and a wicked summer cold that took me off the bike for another three days.  This week, I'm at 3.5 of my planned 5 hours and feeling good.  With any luck, I might actually manage to break 170 before 'cross season starts.

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