The Joy

I was riding with a buddy of mine a couple of weeks ago, rather early on a Saturday morning. It was going to be a very hot day, but it wasn’t hot yet. We could see the damage to corn fields and trees from the recent wind storms. We’d both apparently had enough sleep, because we got down the road at a pretty good clip. It was awesome.

The next day I participated in my first road race. I talked some friends into doing it with me, and we were off. I lasted a lap and some change before I lost the lead group, and a little while longer before I was completely shot off the back. And it was hot. And dreadful. But my friends, my wife, my kid and a cold beer were at the finish. It was quite an experience.

A week later, I got up early and rode by myself (my friends, and most other humans, are willing to get up only so early to ride on weekends) for a while. It was a rainy, incredibly humid day, and perhaps I rode too hard too quickly. I was pretty beat as I rode the last four or five miles home, when I came across a cute gal running the other way. She smiled and waved and I felt refreshed, because I knew I wasn’t alone slogging it out in the rain and hot.

My kid and I rode our tandem last week, on a rather hot night. She likes to go as fast as possible and typically works me into a lather. For the record: I think she works pretty hard, too. When our ride was complete, I asked her what her favorite part might have been. “I liked that part when the trees were over the road and the pond was on the right and it was cooler.” Yeah. That was pretty great.

This morning I rode my mountain bike for the first time in many months. I told my buddies that it was interesting to take part in a sport in which neither strength nor endurance were my limiters. Said differently, I’m a wuss on the MTB. Regardless, it was super-excellent to be out in the woods, fishtailing in the sand, ducking under branches, panting up the hills, getting just the right amount of lost.

A friend lent me a dog trailer, so that I might try to bike to work AND bring my dog. The dog is very suspicious of the contraption and leaps out at inopportune moments, but it’s fun to give it a try.

Many are the joys possible on a bike, and this is a terrific time of year to find and enjoy them.

Beat the Heat

While cycling is, fortunately, not usually as awful as running in this incredibly hot and humid weather, there are some things you can do or use that’ll help keep extreme discomfort at bay.

Number one: drink a lot of water. A Lot Of Water. Measuring your sweat rate* at this time of year often yields rather shocking results — like you need over a liter of water an hour. One of the best tips I ever received was to use clear or translucent water bottles, so you can easily see if you’ve been drinking enough.

If you’re drinking a lot of water, you should probably increase your electrolyte intake. There are at least two easy options for this, a sports drink with minerals built in such as Gatorade G2 or First Endurance EFS drink, or a supplement such as Hammer’s Fizz or Endurolytes. Teaming up electrolyte intake with your water insures that you’ll ingest the stuff.

One possible electrolyte source

Is your wardrobe up to snuff? If you’re cruising around in an old, poorly-ventialted helmet, your modern options will surprise you with their low weight and incredible air management. I wear a Giro Aeon. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s easily the lightest, coolest, most comfortable helmet I’ve ever owned.

Light, cool and comfortable

A proper baselayer is as helpful in the heat as it is in the cold. Our Craft pro cool items have received rave reviews from customers this summer. “Expensive underwear!?” you might exclaim. Yes. It is. But it’ll keep you comfortable and it’ll last a looooong time.

Much more functional than the mesh shirts of my youth.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, use your noggin. It might not be the best idea to perform your hardest workout of the summer on the hottest day of the year.

* Sweat rate is a measure of how much you sweat per hour. It’s easy to measure.

  • Weigh yourself (sans clothing) before your ride.
  • Ride for an hour as normal.
  • Strip, towel off and weigh yourself again.
  • Subtract your post-ride weight from your pre-ride weight, giving your weight lost.
  • From the weight lost number, add the weight of the water your drank while riding and subtract the weight of any voided waste (estimate is OK). This result is your total weight loss through sweat.

For every kilogram less that you weigh, you lost a liter of fluid. It’s helpful to know that a standard small bike water bottle contains 0.6L (0.6kg) of water and a larger bottle holds 0.7L (0.7kg).

Your sweat rate is dependent on heat and humidity, so it’s not an absolute number. It does, however, give you good data to help you hydrate effectively. Use it wisely.

Racing Racing Racing

We like bikes. We like talking about monocoque carbon fiber frames, 2×10 drivetrains, light wheels… all that stuff. We also like riding bikes. Sometimes we like to ride bikes as fast as we can. Sometimes we can’t help but appreciate folks who can ride faster than us. Lots and lots faster.

So, yeah. We got a big ole TV and a subscription to nbcsports.com. We’re watching Le Tour in the morning and probably again in the afternoon. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been the biggest boost to productivity ever, but it is a lot of fun.

This Sunday is the Priority Health Race for Wishes, a road race benefitting the Make a Wish Foundation of Michigan, held in Lawton. It goes on all day, and should be a good spectator event. Maybe you might want to ride out to Lawton and take a look. Maybe you’ve never been to the Old Hat and might want to see what that’s all about. Maybe Lawton is the place to be on Sunday.

Is it too hot to talk about cyclocross? Of course not. Pedal, in conjunction with the Trikats, KissCross and the Kalamazoo County Parks, will host a cyclocross race in Kalamazoo on October 2nd. Much more will be written about this as time goes on, but you might wanna save the date now. Right now!

It’s easy to get dehydrated and hurt yourself in this steamy weather, so please remember to drink enough water.

News

Sunday is the KalTour, a marvelous tour of the Kalamazoo area put on by the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. At least one Pedal human will attempt to undertake the century, probably starting around 8:00 in the morning. Join us if you’d like. The more the merrier.

Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include maps to the rides we do from the shop each and every Thursday. The shorter ride (22 miles) is always no drop, but we have had an instance or two of someone getting out front and missing a turn. If information is power, this should be enough to power the light in your refrigerator for a millisecond.

  • Shorter ride: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/40424358
  • Longer Ride: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/40432728

For those of you who demand more media in your blog posts, here you go. The is the physical embodiment of the things that go through my mind when I’m a long way from home and realize that perhaps I haven’t been too diligent with the chain lube.