So Hot…Bike Was a Bad Choice

So Hot…Bike Was a Bad Choice

A couple weekends ago, Jason, his dad and I drove to Wenatchee to do a long ride through the hot and formidable canyons. We only managed to do about 50-60 before succumbing to the suckiness that is triple-digit heat waves. You suck, Wenatchee. Shove your applets and cotlets up your searingly hot ass.

We parked at a lot near a 76 station and assembled all of our riding stuff. In the five minutes it took for me to get slathered up with sunscreen, prepare my bento box, put on my helmet and sunglasses, and grab my bottles, my bike seat had already gotten taint-meltingly hot. This ride was going to suck.

Rollin' in Wenatchee

We started riding along Highway 97 and experienced the bittersweetness of a newly paved road. The upside was that the road was nice and smooth, but the downsides were that the tar was hot and toxic-smelling, and the shoulder had a ton of gravel and debris from the paving. We rode amidst the pebbles and chemical fumes, dodging the occasional snake carcass. (Seriously, I swerved around about a half dozen coiled up serpent corpses. What is the deal, do they all decide to slither to the side of the road when nearing their life cycle so they can curl up and die?) After a ludicrously short amount of time, Jason had to stop because of a flat tire, so I waited on the side of the road, baking in the sun while he and his dad changed the flat.

Jason pretends to know what he's doing while his dad does the actual tire changing

They blew through a couple cartridges but couldn’t quite get the tire fully inflated, so we rode a short while until we got to a little store, at which point we stopped and asked some fellow cyclists if they had a pump. They only had a craptacular hand pump that barely worked, so Jason and Jim used another cartridge to fill up the tire even more. I killed time by buying a jug of water and ingesting most of it. It was the highlight of my workout.

After squandering more time on the flat, we finally got to the mighty McNeil Canyon climb. This sumbitch is a nightmare — it’s a several mile-long hill up the canyon that offers zero shade or any sort of breeze. It just keeps winding forever and ever, and you never get a reprieve — no small descents, no flat stretches, nothing until you get to the top. I climbed McNeil a couple months ago with Teresa and some girls during her bachelorette weekend, and it took me an hour to ascend it. I had to stop multiple times during the climb to let the lactic acid dissipate from my burning quads. I’ve heard McNeil has a reputation among seasoned cyclists as being the worst climb in Washington.

My ultimate goal is to conquer this thing without having to stop, but unfortunately that didn’t happen this time around. I started climbing and immediately felt the heat — it was so stifling and intense that I had to stop after a short while and rip off my helmet so I could get some semblance of air to reach my fat noggin. I repeated this process a few more times, but the heat just sucked the energy out of my legs and I didn’t want to have nothing left by the time I got to the top since we were going to have to ride another 20 or so miles before we got to a store for more fuel and water. I threw in the towel, having only climbed up half of McNeil, and told Jason and Jim that I’d wait for them at the park at the bottom of the canyon. They soldiered on slowly, intent on conquering McNeil since they hadn’t climbed it before.

I got to the bottom of the canyon and rolled into the park. All of my water bottles were full of hot, unappetizing liquid, and all I wanted was something cold to drink. Unfortunately, the drinking fountain next to the bathrooms had such pathetic water pressure that I was going to have to tongue kiss it in order to successfully ingest anything (most likely herpes), and I wasn’t quite that desperate. Another drinking fountain near the courts was shut off, and a third spigot was broken. What the hell, it’s the middle of summer and 100 degrees outside and none of this shit works. *shakes fist*

Frustrated, I gave up, parked my bike under a tree, and waded into the river clutching my water bottles in hopes of cooling them down a bit. I sat in my makeshift refrigerator for a long while before returning to the park and sitting at a picnic table in some shade. I considered riding out and back along 97 while waiting for Jason and Jim to return from climbing McNeil, but I was paranoid about missing them and figured it’d be best to just sit tight. “Sit tight” quickly translated to falling asleep. Oops.

After my little cat nap, I woke up feeling even more dehydrated and had now thrown groggy into the mix. Great. Where the hell were they? Finally I saw them descend down the canyon. When they got to me, I heard the standard grumblings about how effing miserable that climb is and how hot and tired they were. We sat in the river for a while to cool off, then rode back to the store, which was quickly becoming our desert oasis.

Jason's dad cooling off much like how a dog would

Jason hydrating like a champ

At this point the heat was really starting to psych me out. It was going to be similarly hot in Penticton for Ironman Canada, and I was worried about not being able to handle it. I texted Teresa in a panic:

“Riding in Wenatchee and having a crisis about riding in the heat. Giving me doubts about Canada.”

She responded with this gem:

“Dump water over head!”

I countered with “My water’s too hot!” It doesn’t really feel refreshing to dump liquid over your head when it’s the same temperature as your pee.

We finally managed to tear ourselves away from the cool refuge of the store and continued along 97 back to the car. Jason and his dad both started to cramp from the heat, and by the time we finished, neither Jason nor I were in the mood to do a 30 minute brick run in 100 degree temps. We opted instead to drown our sorrows in an obscene amount of barbecue and iced tea.

Wenatchee is a fiery mistress, and riding along 97 and climbing up that bitch canyon is great training for Canada, but it was so hot that I was really worried about how I’d be able to handle the heat on race day. Thankfully, we had a training weekend coming up in Penticton, so I’d be able to experience first-hand how conditions would feel…

4 Responses to “ “So Hot…Bike Was a Bad Choice”

  1. Sara Keogh says:

    In Penticton, I felt my brain baking in my skull. Had a horrible “my brain is baking in my skull” headache, and started to look for weeds at the side of the road under which I could crawl and die, like a . . . curled up snake.

  2. Rebecca says:

    You could have dove under one of the 18,000 fruit trees along the course. At one point I considered running through the fruit tree sprayer to cool down, but I wasn’t entirely sure that the spray was just water and not some sort of horrific pesticide mix that would give me armpit cancer or something.

  3. Sara Keogh says:

    Yeah, I kept wishing they had miscalculated the sprayers and that they would reach to the road. It was such a special kind of torture, all of those views of big, deep lakes and sprayers, but not a drop touching us.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Water water everywhere…

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