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Posts tagged ‘heat’

summer rhythm & mental clarity

My summer days tend to follow a different rhythm.  Morning swims.  Evening rides.  Abbreviated daytime trips to avoid the air that feels like being stuck in a convection oven, or avoiding the heat-induced thunderstorms.

Daytime hours have been filled with books, reading, and the other (often ignored) exercises in creativity.  While I miss long daytime rides, the wandering and exploring, I feel good about the time I’ve spent on these other things, the expanded productivity … all while waiting for cooler, dryer weather to return, and resuming my more rambling ways.

And – as evidenced by my lack of posts lately – I have enjoyed taking some time to unplug and disconnect.  I’ve been reading a fascinating book, Fast Media, Media Fast,  by Dr. Thomas Cooper, professor of visual and media arts at Emerson College in Boston.  It’s about making a conscious choice to disengage – to fast – from the barrage of always-on mass-media, the distractions of the e-world, and the devices that we are increasingly becoming dependent and even addicted to.

I appreciate that he does not take an “anti-” or negative approach; he does not want eliminate media any more than someone fasting from food wants to eliminate food.  Rather,  he wants to use the break – the diet or full-blown fast – to re-evaluate and examine how we approach and use media.  The goal behind the experience is to examine our thinking and opinion-forming process without the influence of 24-7 breaking news and 1,000 channels of cable television;  to take stock of our lives outside of e-mail, text messaging, twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube and blogging – and to physically experiencing the world directly rather than thru secondhand sources and without an electronic screen in front of us.   Which for me, would eliminate the use of  not only my television, radio, and iDevices but also my camera.  My bike stays.

While I have not yet started a full-blown fast, I have gone on some degree of a media diet, and plan to attempt a full, fasting, disconnection – if only for a week or two – within the next month.   I just want the experience, even briefly or temporarily.

I want to hear myself think again.  I want to re-evaluate the “ratio, quality, enjoyment and originality of what I ingest (as a consumer) versus what I express (as a creator)”.  I want to lose some “unneccessary mental weight”.  And I guess I want the challenge of finding “a Walden in my own mind.”  I want my daily off-bike routine to have more moments like those I experience while on my bike –  the direct experience, the mental clarity, the sensory balance, the perspective.

Wish me luck…

swim, ride, sunflowers … (and a turtle)

riding Mason's bike (thanks, M!)

I am ready for summer to be over with.  The heat has been unbearable.  Dangerous enough for repeated “heat warnings” from the weather service.  It feels kind of ironic that it’s actually more difficult for me to be cycling in the summer than the entire rest of the year.  Lately, it’s been early morning rides – lasting only as long as the morning cool and shadows last.

And lots and lots of time spent underwater.  😉

underwater-cam

Earlier in the week I had a derailleur cable mishap, so I ended up riding Mason’s bike for a few days until I could have mine repaired.  It was kind of a nice change – I didn’t realize how super-light and responsive his bike was compared to my own.  At least it briefly made me feel fast, even though I probably wasn’t … I am truly more like the couple of box turtles that I “rescued” from the road this week.  😉

I can't help stopping and moving them off the road

There is a wonderful field of sunflowers in the neighboring county that I wanted to ride out to and photograph.  How could I not be thinking of images of the Tour and the famous sunflower-and-bicycle shots?  It’s about a 40-mile, two+ hour ride, and I’d been putting it off because of the heat – having no desire to be out that long in triple digit temperatures.  Unfortunately, I waited about a week too long; the heat is still intense, and the sunflower heads are heavy with seeds and drooping.

Dillon and I finally ventured out there, leaving early this morning.  By the time we got to the fields, I attempted a few lame-o shots … but heat index was climbing, we were both dripping in sweat, I couldn’t find the right vantage point, and neither of us felt like spending any more time in the hot sun, which was getting higher and hotter by the minute.  Oh, timing.  Maybe next year?

sunflower fields - Hamilton Co.

It's too hot out here to be messing with more photos, ok?

Next week will bring a change of scenery, a change of bikes … and some different water.  No sunflowers, and probably no turtles.  It will be a surprise.  Meanwhile, stay cool and be safe.

dog days

seeking shade

Despite the fact that I keep listening to Florence + The Machine sing “…the dog days are over, the dog days are done”, the reality of venturing out into the great outdoors is more like stepping into the blowing heat of a convection oven.  Near-record high temperatures combined with high humidity have prompted the posting of “heat warnings” throughout the region.  As daily heat indexes climb toward 110’F, there are only brief windows of opportunity to be out riding – early morning or evening.  Ugghhh.

lately, I prefer to be submerged 😉

If I could manage to swim faster, I’d probably be getting more mileage in the pool than by bicycle.  😉

The rhythm of July hums along … early morning swimming, early morning or dusk/evening rides, and retreating into air conditioning during the heat of the day to our annual “dog days” television-watching addiction: the Tour de France.

While I confess that I’m not a devoted follower of professional bicycle racing, there is so much about the Tour that simply fascinates me.  I’m probably drawn to the visual beauty more than anything else – the undulating movement of the peloton, synchronized like a school of fish.  The winding narrow roads through French villages.  The mountains, the sunflowers, the fields of lavender … and the mind-boggling speed, endurance and athleticism of the riders (which I can only hope is not drug-enhanced), as well as the fascinating tactics of the racing.   And yes – the drama of the crashes – of which there have sadly been too many of this year.   It’s impossible to watch without wanting to hop on your bicycle and ride (although not as far, or as fast … for me, anyway).

the Tour de Bradley County

Dillon has been riding with me recently – and he is ten times the cyclist that I will ever be.  He is built (and rides) like a “climber” – that stick-insect-like build; all legs, virtually no body fat, light and fast.  Up and out of the saddle, scaling hills almost effortlessly.  Quite unlike his mother.  Sigh.

I guess it’s a “parent thing”, but I enjoy just watching him ride ahead of me … and I’m glad he always waits for me to catch up.

Dillon 🙂

drawn to water

morning paddle

I am still here …

The temperatures have just been unseasonably (and unreasonably) hot, and I have been like some seminocturnal creature – out on my bike in the early morning or into the evening, in search of water to slide into, and avoiding the blinding heat of mid-day.  Some of you may love to see the mercury rise into the upper 90’s (F) each day.  Not me.   I’ll take riding in a snowstorm any day.

if only bikes could swim...

I’ve been drawn to the water.  A little paddling, early morning swimming at the Y, riding to the river.  It’s all a necessary alternative to riding through the rippling, shimmering heat rising from the pavement.  Simply looking at water cools me off.

Ironically, Mark and I are about to set off on another bike touring adventure – nothing as exciting as Italy, but we are really looking forward to it, just the same.  Except for the heat forecasted heat, of course.  Along with possible flooding along the route (that may be a story for another post).  Our timing is obviously not the greatest.  If nothing else, it will be some fresh scenery for my camera lens, as well as a chance to really put some mileage on the Xtracycles.  So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, summer is here in full bloom – and full heat.    Remember to drink plenty of water.  (Or swim in it, or bike alongside  it 😉 )

eveningride

eveningride

late hour glare

signs of summer

paradox

There is a long list of things that comes to mind when thinking of summer: popsicles, baseball games, watermelon, swimming pools, the beach, bicycles.  Probably not Siberia – or riding a bicycle through Siberia – but it’s about all I can think about, read about, through these infernal days of heat and humidity.

The heat is sweltering here; a recent article claims we’re in the midst of the hottest six months in recorded history.  Another reminder – along with the mess in the Gulf – from Mother Nature: ride and walk more, drive less?  I’d like to think so, but also admit that it’s a difficult task in this kind of weather.  And you have to be willing to arrive everywhere dripping with sweat and looking like hell; no room for a shred of vanity, that’s for sure.  But hey, as Stephen Markley penned  – “We didn’t need a world with a functioning climate anyway.”

Back to Siberia …  Rob Lilwall’s book, Cycling Home From Siberia, is beautiful, remarkable, inspiring, and the perfect summer read in the midst of a heat wave.  What began as a preposterous undertaking to begin with –  his plan to spend one year cycling from a far-eastern city in Siberia, in winter, all the way home to England – turned into an epic 3-year/3-continent/30,000-mile cycling odyssey.  It is filled with fascinating detail, humor, and yes – the expected drama and dire circumstances you might expect.  But it is written in an amazingly unpretentious and even very spiritual voice.  It is a beautiful story – on so many levels.

It’s a story that is filled with human (versus super-human) moments; his “humanness” and honesty draws you in, while the adventures keep you turning pages.  And ok – the guy rode over 30,000 miles, so there is a fair amount of super-human in there as well, for you feats-of-incredibleness junkies.  But with chapter titles ranging from “Over Mordor” (ch.1 – yes, in reference to Tolkien’s gloom-filled world), to “The budgerigar and the naked weatherman” (ch. 11)  and ” ‘I’ve had enough of this stupid bike ride’ (ch. 36) … it is entertaining, often funny, sometimes sad, sometimes frightening, yet always so very real.  A better description appears on the back cover:

A gripping story of endurance and adventure, this is also a spiritual journey, providing poignant insight into life on the road in some of the world’s toughest corners.

Get your hands on a copy and read it.  Period.  That’s all I’m going to say.

A final note to my kind friends and those of you who commented on my last post:  your insight has been most valuable to me, and I greatly appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts – and even more for listening to me and reading.  It has really helped me, and has made a difference.

#330daysofbiking update: today I have ridden 110 of the past 117 days …. 248 days remain.  And so it goes.  (As I wish for a blast of arctic air to blow over from Siberia).

LensBabyBike ~ #330daysofbiking, Day 107, 7/22/10

riding with Mark, another old barn ~ #330daysofbiking, Day 108, 7/24/10

evening with my boys & bikes ~ #330daysofbiking, Day 109, 7/25/10

rain, errand riding & an iPhone ~ #330daysofbiking, Day 110, 7/26/10

#330daysofbiking Day 93: just playing around

iPhone silliness...

No long hot rides today. Heat index of 106’F.  Had a swim, took the Xtracycle out for a brief spin in the evening … still pretty nasty out there, even with the sun setting.  Rode past the baseball field and considered stopping to watch the kids, but decided to just head home, back to the cool.  Even at night, the temperature is not dropping … enough.

Apparently my brain is overheated; nothing much to say, didn’t even feel like taking many pictures outside today.  Just playing around.  Trying to stay cool.

a la the "real" camera (DSLR)

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#330daysofbiking Day 92: dear weather, you win

me & my Hincapie sunflower jersey (reaching for camera from Mason, little did I know...)

... and the real thing; bright orange-red sunflower

Five o’clock (pm) and the mercury is reading 97’F.  In the shade.  Good grief.

It was warm this morning, but I figured if we got out early enough, we could beat the worst of it.  The boys and I were in the mood for a road ride, so Mason, Dillon and I headed out for a long-ish (~40 mi) road ride.  We drank plenty beforehand, and took extra bottles along.  Not so bad as we headed out.  Boys were feeling pretty peppy (and maybe a bit competitive?), and decided they wanted to do the climb on Mahan Gap – a several mile long slog, with a 10% grade in the half-mile near the top.  I’ll do it in the cooler weather, but knowing my heat-tolerance limits, I decided to take the alternate less “climb-y” route, and meet them on the other side.

Mason & Dillon ... still cool and energetic

As the sun rose higher, the mercury started climbing.  Too quickly.  The boys and I re-connected after their climb and stopped to refill water bottles, and take a few minutes in the shade and debating the route we would take back home.  Opted for the slightly longer, but gently rolling route, figuring we’d take it nice and easy in the intensifying heat.

stopping to refill the water bottles

... just too hot outside

Made it home, cooled off … and later headed into town (by car) on a few errands and a trip to the bike shop.  Just miserable to be out there, regardless.  Mason and I ended up with headaches, despite all efforts to rehydrate, etc.  We’ve all had enough heat for one day.

Thinking that while the temperatures are so stifling, we’ll need to come up with alternate strategies for longer rides … much, much earlier, or even into the evening with lights.  Or hauling the bikes up to northern Canada…. 😉  Or just sitting inside the dark, cool house, watching the Tour and imagining we are actually out riding (LOL).