Sunday, May 4, 2014

Biking in Hades

Well, now I know why all those tourists with Arizona plates who descend upon us like locusts (if locusts drove over-sized SUV's) spaz out whenever they come upon a road biker -- it's because nobody in their right mind would ever want to bike in their inhospitable climate -- nobody except me, that is.

Like an opening salvo, warning us all of the impending "Zonie" invasion, they seem to have managed to blow us a dose of the weather they all flee from every summer.  In a week that saw temps in Coronado (usually the coolest spot in the county) soar as hIgh as 102, I was undeterred.  I biked everywhere -- as I always do.  Given that most of my riding is to and from work in the early morning and evening, though, I was spared the worst of the unseasonable, ungodly, Santa Ana heat -- until yesterday. 

Yesterday, I had to bike out to El Cajon, the hottest place in the county, to help build sets for my littlest bikeist's upcoming play.   What was I thinking?  The biking gods even tried to intervene to stop me as I discovered a five inch patch on my back tire where I had completely worn through the tread (must have been from stopping short and skidding a bit when I got cut off the night before).  Rather than embrace a good excuse to back out, I was the first customer in Holland's as they opened, purchasing two brand new Armadillo Roubaix tires.   It's a good thing that I had those brand new tires, though, because the old ones might have just melted to the pavement as I approached El Cajon.

Last time I biked out there I just followed El Cajon Blvd the whole way.  Not pleasant.  Knowing the heat would be more than enough to contend with, I tried a less traveled route out there.  I took Imperial Avenue right through the heart of National City, out through Lemon Grove and Santee and then used Bancroft to cut through Mt. Helix over to El Cajon.  Interesting ride, with fairly light traffic -- even felt somewhat rural the further I got out.  There was no escaping the heat, though -- one of the most challenging 20 miles I've ever biked.  I was so glad to get to the cooler confines of the warehouse to carry out the all-important duty of painting fake rocks.  

Unfortunately, we got everything we needed to get done quicker than anticipated -- putting me back in the saddle as the temperature peaked at 97. When one of the other volunteers got my answer to his question about where I was biking to, he just looked at me like there was something wrong with me - he may be right.

When I rolled out of the warehouse garage door back into the blistering sunlight, the last thing I wanted to do was exert myself in any way whatsoever.  But, one of the nice things about biking is the cooling effect of the wind generates by just moving through the air.  Motion, thus, provides its own reward when biking in this kind of heat.   

Anticipating that Imperial would be busier  on my way back, I took a more southerly route to the coast.  After climbing back through Mt. Helix, I followed Bancroft all the way to Sweetwater which was a pleasant surprise.  Nice bike lane for miles and miles and it took me through a bike path I had never been on that combines with Quarry Road to parallel the 125.  Eventually, I wound up in Bonita, where I caught the Sweetwater Bike Path to the Bayshore Bikeway which took me back downtown. 

Much easier typed than done!  I do at least 60 miles every Saturday, but I was more spent after this 52 miles of biking than I have been after centuries.  I drank plenty of water, but it's so hard to keep up with its depletion from every pore of your body when you bike in such heat.

The truest sign, I think, that this particular ride was not the best idea during historically bad Santa Ana conditions was that I didn't see a single other rider until I returned to the Bay.  Didn't even see this guy:

And he LOVES to bike in the heat!

All I saw were pedestrians and drivers giving me concerned looks.

By the time I caught the ferry and biked the last 2.6 miles home, I didn't even have the energy to knock out my daily burpee requirement.  I just went into the kitchen and drank everything we had - milk, grapefruit juice, water, whatever -- if it was wet I consumed it.  I then spent the rest of the evening moving as little as possible as my body slowly recovered from the afternoon's stupidity.

Never again.  I live in San Diego for the best of reasons -- it's everything Arizona is not.  Next time those Zonies decide to let their weather slip over here, I'm heading to the beach!

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