EGADS, folks. It’s hot out there.
Like, 105 degrees in the shade.
That’s why my rides have been pathetically short. Normally I love the heat. Really. I like to sweat puddles, stink like shit and push my body’s capacity to sizzle. But, boy, this past few weeks has instilled a bit more respect for Mother Nature, who for the past two months or so has kicked my ass up and down trails from here to Lubbock.
Sometime in late May I remember stopping somewhere along the North Shore Trail up on Lake Grapevine (this was the time I rode it while visiting DFW from Lubbock) to catch my breath. An inviting, shady pavilion lulled me over after I finished maybe 10 miles of some pretty intimidating trail.
So I wheeled Beatrix over, rested her against the bench and pulled out a protein bar as I slurped up whatever was left in my Camelback. It was maybe only 95 degrees or so, but it was the first truly hot day I had been out this year.
And then, sitting on that picnic table munching whatever nut-filled concoction was on the menu that afternoon, I felt the chills.
Now, I’m no doctor or exercise scientist, but I know that’s not a good sign. I took it as a wake-up call: I’m no longer a teenager who can do this wholly irresponsible disregard-the-body crap.
I’ve hit the ripe old age of 25, and my body has new limits. (Don’t mock me, older folks — I know I’m still young, but I’m only now realizing I’m not invincible. And, while we’re on the subject of my budding inner curmudgeon, teenagers need to pull their pants up. And get better taste in music. And I remember when a movie cost $7.)
After that ride in Grapevine that weekend, I picked up some salt pills and a couple of those Gatorade gel pouch things you’re supposed to slurp down 15 minutes before working out. I also vowed to alter my habits for the summer, making more frequent swings back by the car to refill the pouch. I also installed a second bottle cage on the bike for a second bottle of sports drink.
This all helped — especially those Gatorade pouch things, which really seem to do the trick — but there’s only so much precaution to take when it’s 111 degrees outside.
That’s not an arbitrary number, either. Toward the end of June I went out for one of my last afternoons in Lubbock’s trail. The thermometer in my car read 111 degrees as I drove home, only maybe 12 miles under my belt for the day.
That’s, like, Biblically hot.
I returned home, stripped down to my tightie whities and lay down on the cool linoleum floor, where Gaia had long earlier staked out a spot to ride out the day.
The two of us remained sprawled there for quite a while, panting together between grunts and the occasional nod of approval. Sweet, sweet linoleum.
Which leads me — finally — to my point: That 30-plus miles I was mashing this spring? Nope. Not this month.
That’s why I returned to Cedar Hill again Monday, hoping the shade and relative ease of the track would permit me to log at least 25 miles, maybe twice around the 12-mile loop.
I made it one trip around, returned to the parking lot, stuck my head under one of those public faucets and thought chilly thoughts as the water washed the several millimeters of caked-on sweat off my skin.
After that, and a quick chomp on some trail mix, I headed back out, thinking I was ready for the eight-mile loop.
Nope. Nope. Nope.
I screeched up to the turn off and weighed my options. I could stay to the right and be back at the truck in roughly two miles, or I could have veered to the left and squeezed another six or seven miles out of the day.
“F*ck it,” I gasped, pedaling off to the right. “Not in the mood to die out here.”
Too bad. I was having fun. That trail, while still somewhat boring, started to grow on me.
It’s no Sansom Park, but it has enough screaming downhill sections to shoo adrenaline monkey off my back.
Maybe in a couple months I’ll manage to squeeze out 30 miles again.
These days I’m content to survive 15, or less, and return home to some air conditioning.
And cold beer.
And cool flooring.