Code Orange

Well, just like last summer, this one looks to be nothing but bad air days as far as the eye can see.  And of course, on these days we’re all supposed to stay inside or drive around in our air conditioned cars, thereby creating MORE smog and continuing the downward spiral.  And in beautiful eastern Howard County, they’re happily building countless more new sprawl developments where you need a car to get anywhere.  Gotta love progress.  Sorry, I’m feeling cynical today.

I still ride my bike through the heat waves.  Most of the time, it’s not too bad.  Mornings are the best time of day to ride, but of course, as a bike commuter, I have to pay the piper and ride home in the late afternoon.  Around here, it usually hasn’t cooled off much by 5:00pm.  The key is taking it easy and staying hydrated.  My ride home is 8 miles.  Drinking lots of water during an 8-mile ride isn’t much help.  It’s essential to keep drinking during the day, leading up to the ride, to avoid getting dehydrated on the ride.  Then just take it slowly, pedal in a low gear, and take advantage of coasting when possible.  Air movement will provide a cooling effect, which makes cycling in hot weather more tolerable than other activities such as jogging.  So while it’s important to take it easy in the heat, you still have to go fast enough to get some cooling from the air.  It takes some practice to get the pacing down.  I have to re-acclimate myself to it every year around this time.  By July and August, it’s second nature.

With all the heat and lack of rain, the road bike has been my go-to bike lately.  After today’s ride, it’s only 2 slots off the leaderboard for most-used bike of the year, behind my mountain bike.  If the current weather patterns hold up through the summer, the road bike could build up a pretty healthy lead, though it’ll likely lose ground in the fall.  And hey, as hot as it is, my average ride-time temperature is still only 53°.  That would feel pretty darned nice this time of year…