RAGBRAI 2016 awaits

At the Verde River on the Beeline, I watched these free-ranging horses splashing around.
At the Verde River on the Beeline, these free-ranging horses were splashing around.

Crunch time preparing for this summer’s RAGBRAI and Upper Mississippi ride. I spent the month of June in Europe, and had hoped to get in some conditioning in early July. Unfortunately I came home sick – yes, the transcontinental flight was lovely.

It took most of a week to recover, and last Sunday Phil and I set out to do the lake loop. We eventually sagged out of it after about 28 miles, to heat, dehydration, and a bee sting that Phil suffered.  Thanks to my darling wife for the sag support.

I promptly got ill again that evening. In all likelihood, a different virus hit me, and a cough, sore throat, and congestion raged for another few days. Nothing too serious, but it put me on my back fighting for rest.  My conditioning days thus ticked away.

Fast forward to today. Phil couldn’t make a ride today so I set out alone, not sure how far I’d want to take it. Fortunately, a hazy cloud cover kept the temperatures slightly below a full Arizona summer day, say, only around 100F, no higher. So my bike plowed forward past the lake and up to the Beeline.

Don’t get me wrong – it was hot. I took numerous breaks to down water and rest. I spent much of the ride thinking of things to address in preparation this week. Every time I’d think of something new I’d stop and put it on a list on my phone. Provided lots of rest opportunities.

By the way, I decided that my thinking in May had been wishful about a bike lane on Bush Highway.  They’ve graded the shoulder nicely, but I’m not seeing any paving progress 2 months later.  I shall continue to hope.

Breakfast at the Euro Pizza Cafe in Fountain Hills, offering a temporary recovery. Then the ride back, in higher temps. A 10 mph SW breeze started up, mostly a headwind of course, for the first 10 miles down Beeline. Nearing Gilbert Road, it changed course to come mostly from the S, which, of course, was also a headwind, and I slogged up Gilbert Road at only 10 mph or so.

Reaching McDowell Rd., the wind became a bit SE, which, naturally, was another partial headwind. Only when I turned due north near home did I finally get out of it. 49 miles total.

I spent 4 hours sleeping and recovering at home, not really from the ride itself, but simply from the heat exhaustion and cramping. It was actually a little dangerous to do this hot ride in the shape I’m in, but I’m glad I did it.  That’s why they call it conditioning.

The Mid-West is supposed to possibly see a “heat dome” spike in temperatures this week. I even read about something called “corn sweat,” a term that made me laugh.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/17/weather/extreme-weather-heat-dome/index.html.  Hopefully the heat index in Iowa won’t be TOO crazy.