Saturday 19 January 2013

Riding in the heat

There was much hoo-ha about the heat here yesterday. It went over 45 degrees in the CBD for a while, and it was hotter out in western Sydney. I went outside the office when it was 45 - it was pretty hot, but not unpleasant as it was a totally dry heat. Really different from the usual Sydney humidity, which leaves you in a very sticky mess.

I was told the ambos treated a lot of people for heat stress - I even saw a motorcycle cop being treated for it during the morning.

So why did I ride in that heat?

Well, by the time I finished work, the cool change had started coming in. The first clouds were overhead, and the temp had dropped to 37. I had a magnesium salt replacement drink before getting changed, and made sure I drank plenty of water in the hour or two before leaving. I stupidly left my bidons on the bike in the morning instead of putting them in the fridge - when I went to have a drink, I found the water in them was  about 45 degrees.

And when I hit the road, I took it easy. At least I tried to take it easy - the body is programmed to go at certain speeds or a certain level of effort, so whenever I stopped thinking about going slow, the programming took over and off I went. I then had to consciously slow myself down. This happened a lot.

There were still plenty of bikes on the road, but when I got to the Bay, there was not a single pedestrian. It was a ghost town.

It was around that time that the rain started coming down. I thought we'd get a brief shower, which would do  nothing for the heat but everything for the humidity, but instead it started bucketing down. The rain drops were so fat and cold, they hurt. I was waiting for it to start hailing, and was keeping an eye out for likely spots to stop and shelter. At one point, it rained so hard, I almost had to pull over as I could barely see where I was going.

The worst thing about the rain is that I totally forgot about the impact of water on bike braking performance. I almost over ran a stop sign by braking for it as if it was dry. Duh. I was so fixated on it being hot, the brain just ignored the fact that it was also wet.

Here's an odd thing - because I took it easy, I reckon I sweated less than I do on a ride on a cold day. Either the sweat was drying up immediately, or I just wasn't sweating much. I'm used to having sweat dripping off my nose and running down my arms, but instead, I was pretty dry. I certainly wasn't cooking when I got home. The nice thing about being on a bike is the air flow cools you down quite effectively.

I got home to find a barrage of complaints from friends and family about how awful it was catching the bus or train home, or how unpleasant it was to drive with cars breaking down here and there. I don't know what all the fuss was about - I had a comfortable and easy trip home.

1 comment:

Crunchy Peanut-Blogger said...

Whereas I foolishly went for a planned 45km ride about 10am figuring the forecast 39 degree max wouldn't be until later in the afternoon. Fool. Felt like I had a hairdryer on max heat pointing at my face any time I topped 25km an hour, the metal brake levers were almost too hot to touch and the frame was too hot to touch so had to be very careful each time I stopped at lights. Must have stopped at every second bubbler for a drenching, but oddly the legs were fine and I didn't drink much more than usual because I was going pretty slow. And Lance Armstrong thought he was having a bad day!