Heatwave update...at last.
Heatwave update...at last.
So, I finally sat down and wrote for an hour about the heatwave in Wisconsin, and an update on our experiences in Minnesota. And then everything I had written dissappeared. Sometimes I really dislike technology.
As a result, this will be the abridged version. There was a 4 day heatwave in Wisconsin unlike anything we northwesterners had ever experienced. The temperatures were in the high 90's and low 100's, however it was the humidity that made it awful. The heat index varied from 110 to, at the highest, 126 degrees. As you can guess, it is unbearable to ride a bike in those kind of conditions, especially when a person isn't used to humidity. The key piece with that is that with such high humidity it doesn't matter how much a person sweats, it doesn't evaporate, so the body isn't cooling off.
We couldn't write objectively about this until afterwards, because during the heatwave, our focus was surviving it. So here are some tips we have that allowed us to survive, if not enjoy, what was actually a potentially dangerous situation.
First, we would get up very early, start biking at sunrise, and then go until around noon or 1pm. We would find a bar, restaurant or library, where we would then spend the next 4 or 5 hours cooling off in the air-conditioning.
Here's Adam one early humid morning on the Great River Road that runs along the Mississippi River. At around 5pm, it would just start getting "less hot" enough to go outside again, and bike until dark.
Secondly, don't just drink lots and lots of water, but also gatorade or some other electrolite drink. There is actually such a thing as too much water, a condition called hyponatremia, where the sodium levels in your body become depleted. Even though we were drinking a lot of both, it was impossible to stay fully hydrated.
This brings me to our third tip. Spend the money for a motel with air-conditioning. The first night of the heatwave we camped, like usual, and couldn't sleep all night because the sweat was literally pouring off our bodies. We woke up sleep deprived and more dehydrated than when we had gone to bed the night before. Being on a budget, we didn't want to pay for lodging, however we weren't able to sleep or hydrate, which meant there wouldn't be a bike tour if that continued. There were moments where I felt like a wuss for staying in a motel, but it really was a safety and enjoyment issue.
The first day the heatwave broke was like a new beginning. I remembered that I like riding my bicycle, and Adam remembered that he enjoys my company. That must be the final tip, that nothing is permanent. Whatever is happening, it will change, and it's just a matter of taking it a day at a time rather than focusing on, and worrying about the future. Oh, and it also helped that one of the days we were on a sweet trail that went through 3 old railroad tunnels. The tunnels varied from 1/2 to 1 mile long, and are much cooler in the summer than the outside air. they are so cool in fact, that fog forms at the openings, as you can see in the picture here. They also are wet, rocky and unlit, so we got out our headlamps and walked through each of them. Having watched too many horror movies in my life, it was a little spooky at times, but a welcome relief from the heat.
Fast forward to being in Montana, where it is dry and hot, which we know how to work with. But, more on that next time.