Essay: On A Heat Wave
(2016) A couple of years ago I was running a heavy race schedule. It seemed I was always prepping for the next experience. In the spring it was the touring rides to get the legs stretched out. In the early summer it was the easily dismissed crits. “Oh it’s only early race season,” I might say. Then the summer race season was on. In a flash the season morphed into the fall touring rides, and I was left wondering what happened to my year.
On top of this schedule I was working full time and doing housework. I always seemed to be moving onto the next activity. My schedule throughout the work week was as such: go to work, come home and take the dogs out, ride, come home and make dinner, go to sleep. The weekends were full of chores and errands plus longer rides. Because of this schedule, an interesting side effect would happen from time to time.
I say ‘interesting’ in so much as aside from doing the typical 9-to-5, prep rides, and socializing, I also sought advice from professionals in the realms of eating and training plans. I met with a registered dietician to learn about the gaps in my diet (a good bit of information to know outside of sport) as well as a certified coach to dish out training plans and keep me disciplined. That said, it was no wonder I would find myself whispering, “I’ll just rest my eyes a moment” only to wake up five hours later in the same position, the house void of light, and not another sound to be heard. Despite asking for help in the nutrition category as well as the training plan category, my body would give me regular feedback and shut things down for a considerable amount of time.
If I’m honest, I miss those unconscious crusades to replenish my stamina. I felt like I had properly done myself in. I would wake up wondering what caused such a blackout only to look back on my schedule and realize I was always on the go. What’s more, having awoken from such a nap led me to believe I had ruined my chance at a restful sleep that night only to fall right back into a heavy sleep again. I had mentally overcome my body’s efforts to hold me back. At least that’s what I deduced when considering my diet was being monitored, my prep work was being advised, and the backyard was kept to a satisfactory height.
Oh to have those days back again.
Which is why I found myself perplexed during a ride to chase down one of my buddies. He had texted me his route; I could not get out for twenty minutes henceforth. I would try to chase him down. Despite rolling out toward the end of the day, I felt like the lights went out immediately, if they were ever truly on.
I must confess this area has been in a stifling heat wave. For the past – well I can’t remember when it hasn’t been below ninety – we have been stuck in a tropical air mass. Some days it’s over 100 real feel with humidity. Recently it’s just been hot with little humidity. So to say this isn’t enjoyable riding weather isn’t doing it justice.
I’m ok with riding in hot weather every once in a while. Yet there hasn’t been – and doesn’t seem to be – a break from this cycle. Because of that, one must start weighing the pros and cons of taking a ride out in heat such as this. The popping of tar bubbles becomes a regular sound. If there’s viscous tar, then there is embedded debris, and if there’s debris, there are punctures to both tubes and tubulars alike. At least that’s my theory.
So yesterday, after having consumed what felt like a ponds-worth of water prior to rolling out, after having what felt like a sensible couple meals, and after sucking down two water bottles on a ride that was less than an hour in length, that familiar feeling of shutting down loomed. One thing I learned outside all of that structure from a couple years ago was persistence. Continue to ride at what feels comfortable and eventually things will start swinging my way. Heat waves don’t last forever, nor do naps. After looking out the window, the grass is looking a bit high.