Monday, April 4, 2011

Bad News

I figured out a way to get to DSW, my favorite shoe store, on my bike. That is bad news for my pocketbook. It's out in Sunset Valley in a huge shopping development, so I didn't hold high hopes for being able to get there that easily. Surprisingly, there is a bike trail that goes through the middle of the shopping center. It unfortunately ends at the access road of 290 suddenly, and going back towards the center it passes it and weaves through the edge of a neighborhood. Frustratingly, it shares the characteristic of many other bike lanes in Austin in that it ends suddenly, leaving you to try and merge on the actual road.

Anyway, I managed to get there with a minimum of sweat. The next day, I rode to Target and got there without the sweat stains on my back, or the stains on my butt. I hate those. All I did was concentrate on not putting out too much effort. I had a hard time believing all those people on the internets who said slowing down is all it takes, but I was proven wrong. Now, in 105 degree heat, there may be nothing you can do....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Is Here!

Is it definitely taking a turn for the hotter here in Central Texas. It is 80 degrees (27C) today.Yesterday the weatherman said he would tell us when some cooler weather would be coming and I thought, "October?".

Texas has some serious heat, but I remember biking in the summer before and not being the only nut. (That really was because I forced my then boyfriend to come with me.) Really, a snowcone tastes 3,000 times better when you've had to bike in the heat to get it. That first cold bite is the very definition of refreshing.

I really don't want to give up biking because of the heat; I enjoy it so much that the idea of having to get in my car is very unappealing. So, in my  trek today, I tried to think up some ways to stay cool on my bike. Plus, I noticed several problems.

First, 80 degrees is nowhere near as hot as it gets here. 105 is not unusual for several days in a row. Really, once I got on my bike and had the wind in my face it was quite pleasant. I figure my threshold for unbearable heat might be around 95 degrees.
I noticed I felt hotter when the sun was directly out and felt better when it was cloudy. Argument for a hat I think.

Secondly, I got gross sweat stains under my butt on my shorts. I really don't know what to do about that other than wear a dress and have that lovely stain on my underwear only. I really concentrated on not sweating, but by the time I was out for almost an hour I was feeling pretty wet. That brings me to my third point.

The seemingly shortest way may not the best choice. I was going to go through Riverside up Pleasant Valley, and it turned out it was not the most efficient way. Coming back, I went through the town lake trail and down First street that was not only faster, but allowed some much needed shade. I don't know why I thought it would be faster, Riverside is one of those streets where riding on the sidewalk isn't such a hassle, and I think riding on the sidewalk definitely slows you down.

So I was pretty sweat soaked when I got home. A quick rinse in the shower made everything ok, but I'm thinking next time I go out in the heat I'm going to bring a rag (handkerchief? That sounds much better) to wipe the sweat off. One thing about Texas is that it isn't just the heat, its the humidity. Because of it, your sweat doesn't evaporate, leaving you soaked. A rag would definitely be welcome on my back. I don't know why, but I sweat the most there.

I have dreams that I've mentioned before of putting a A/C unit on my handlebars, but unfortunately I have neither the technical skill or the training to go about building stuff like that. I saw that they do sell personal A/C/ units that run on water, but they are about forty bucks and I'm not ready to drop that kind of change on something like that.

Of course, it would be nice not to sweat at all, but its a fact of life here in Central Texas in the summer. Even if you drive, you will sweat on the way to your car and for the first few minutes while your A/C kicks in. I remember my Mom getting home everyday from her work in the office and she too had a slight smell from the heat. My Dad worked outside, and he just smelled to high heaven.

The heat is troubling, but not an insurmountable obstacle I hope. Really, everyone, no matter what their mode of transport is, tried not to go out in the afternoon when its hot outside. I really hope to continue riding in the summer months and will keep looking for tips to keep cool. I have surrendered to the fact that I will have to sweat.