Thursday, June 25, 2009

Biking in the Heat...


The weather is hot, hot, hot here in Michigan. It makes it a lot harder to make the effort to go ride my bike, because I know how drained I will feel once I'm finished. And it will show. My face will be red, my body will be gritty with dirt and salt, my hair damp with sweat. I can't shower before I go to dinner with friends (my treat for working out) so I won't exactly look my best. But we all look bad, and we're used to seeing each other that way, so it's no big deal. It's sometimes surprising to see friends I don't see other than when I ride. Usually we see each other just as described, with helmet head, hair flattened on the top, then flaring at the sides, or if short, completely flat. The make-up, if added, disappeared after the first ten miles of sweating. One time, Beth, a biking friend, stopped by the ride to deliver a message after she'd just left work. I had to stare. She was gorgeous, hair done up, lipstick on, fashionable clothes, even heels... I had to compliment her, of course. It was quite a transformation.

You might wonder why someone would ride if it's all sweat and grit, but it's the wonderful feeling while riding that makes it a great experience. It's the closest I feel to being a kid again, only now I can leave the neighborhood. The beautiful scenery we pass is always uplifting, and I love the feeling of camaraderie riding as a group, flying up and down hills, around curving roads, through woods and alongside lakes. We stay off the main roads as much as possible, weaving through the neighborhoods, our ride leader determining the route.

This last Tuesday night was great. We did a long ride, 37 miles. We only stopped once to adjust someone's seat that had come loose. We talked when the pace slowed, kept quiet while going fast. That might be part of it too, the focus needed to make sure the ride goes well. You don't have time to think about bills, or problems. It's all about keeping an eye on the road, and the rider in front of you, and an awareness of everything around you. I ride with people I know, and that helps a lot. You know what to expect of each rider, and trust them to maintain their line and not brake unnecessarily. When riding with a group time flies, and the miles with it. It's fun. It really is.

It helps that I am in shape now. Riding when you are not in shape can be hell. I won't deny that. I had my share of heavy breathing earlier in the season. I lost the group once, and had to find my way back. I trailed them for almost a mile, and could not breathe. No one knew I was back, and I did not yell out. The unwritten rule is, the group will stop for a mechanical problem, but not if you can't keep up. You're supposed to come prepared to ride. Still, if I see someone having difficulty, I will yell, "rider back." Most other riders will too, if they see it. But when the group is going fast, you don't have time to look around. That is what happened to me.

The temperature is supposed to rise to 90 degrees today. It was 92 yesterday with high humidity. I think the hottest weather I've ever ridden in is 95 degrees, so chances are I'll try to ride tonight. My group, the Wolverines, has never canceled a ride because of the heat...

I'll look forward to dinner, and then a nice cool shower. :)

Talk to you soon...

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