Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Feelin' the heat

For those of you that read this from afar, the twin cities has been living in a heat wave for the last week which seemed to peak this weekend. It's been in the upper 90's in temp and humidity which makes for some sweltering days. Yesterday it cracked 100 degrees for the first time in 10 years.

Saturday we planned to beat the heat by heading up north a little to the waterpark at Wild Mountain. Being me, I decided I would ride my bike up there and meet Beth and our friends at the park. It seemed like a great idea, and I planned on getting up early to get on the road before the day got hot. I awoke at 6am Saturday and first thing I did was go outside to check the conditions, which seemed to have not changed at all overnight. It was 80 degrees and about 90% humidity at 6am, probably not a good sign, but I'm not very good at reading signs like that.

So I get my bike all set to go, mount up some new tires that I'd been meaning to install for a while, fill up three bottles and hit the road. It didn't seem too bad actually, as I left the city and got closer to the river the temp was dropping. By the time I rolled into Stillwater, it was 75 degrees, but still oppressively humid. I was soaking wet with sweat and the couple of times I had stopped to make a few small adjustments on my bike, I could hardly see from the sweat rolling into my eyes.

I figured Stillwater might be my last stop until Taylor's Falls where I could get Gatoraid, so I stopped and refilled my bottles at a gas station. I rested for a few minutes and ate a powerbar, hoping I'd cool down and stop sweating, but no such luck. I decided the only way I could feel cooler was to keep moving and have some wind on my skin, so I pressed northward up Hwy 95.
95 is actually a really nice ride north, some smaller rolling hills, nice changing scenery and not too many cars once you're out of town. Things were feeling better now, I was hydrated and rolling at a good clip, then about 15 miles out of Taylors the rain started. It wasn't much of a rain, just enough to be miserable but not enough to break the humidity. It actually felt more like I was riding through 100 % humidity and the water was simply condensing on my body.

The roads were wet and since it had been weeks since our last rain there was a lot of sand and grit on them. However it just wouldn't rain hard enough to was the road spray off me, so I just got covered in sand and grit clinging to my sweaty body like velcro. Great.

I had been looking forward to the descent into Taylors Falls on Hwy 8 all morning, but by the time I got there, it was raining, the roads were wet and slick, the sky's were dark which made for bad visibility and there was a ton of traffic on the Hwy. I quickly started dreading this 3 mile drop into town which I had been looking forward to all morning. I was secretly hoping Beth and the others would drive by me soon and give me a lift into town so I didn't have to deal with the traffic in the rain, but unbeknownst to me, they were about a half hour behind me yet. I pressed on.

I got lucky and found a break in the traffic and jumped into the lane for most of the ride down to town, so it really wasn't as bad as expected. Once in town I decided I should call Beth and find out where they were at, but she beat me to it. As I was getting out the phone is started ringing and I was informed that they were still behind me. They offered to pick my up in Taylors, but I was only 7 miles away now and I figured I'd be more comfortable riding in the rain than sitting around town in the rain, so I finished it off and waited at Wild Mountain for them to arrive. Ironically, once they got there I was chilled from the rain and had to warm up before I was ready for the waterpark!

The rest of the afternoon was spent frolicking in the water on the same three slides that have been at Wild as long as I can remember. The place could really use some updating and cleaning, but judging by how packed it was, they're still making money in it's current condition so I suspect nothing will change... By late afternoon we were all pretty well beat and headed home with a longer than planned stop in Marine on the St. Croix for dinner at a place with horrible service.

That night I slept well!

Sunday I thought I'd relax, but then the side of my that can't relax got the better of me. I decided to once again fight the heat and set-out to cut down the rest of the tree that had a large limb break off last week. It was a medium size Ash tree, probably about 40' tall, 14" diameter trunk and of course placed in an area where there was no hope of falling the whole thing in one shot. So I spent several hours on the extension ladder working some chainsaw artistry while Beth stayed near the phone ready to call 911. It all came down safely and without any real damage to our garden, the neighbors rotting fence and myself. Several more hours of cutting it up and hauling it off and we were down one less tree in the back yard. I'm hoping to take at least one more down this year yet when the neighbors tear down their rotting fence.

Again, Sunday night I was quite beat.

Monday: last chance to fight the heat. The big heatwave peaked on Monday and is supposed to be pretty much ended after the rain/storms we're supposed to get all day today. So naturally we had to prove that Kenwoodies aren't that smart, so we had our Monday night ride. Thorny had gratiously offered to have us over to his place afterwards for some Brats and High-lifes, so we had to have the ride. Both Freidells and myself met at Thorny's house and rolled from there. We hooked up with WW, Billy and the Chef (yes, the Chef rode his bike!) at the site of the old Shoppe. The ride was hot, really hot. As I mentioned earlier, it broke 100 degrees that afternoon and was still humid as hell. I was expecting to put in a lap at Wirth and call it, but then we did a second, and then a third. By the third lap, it was all I could do to just stay on the trail, I was cooked. Somehow WW pulled off a fourth lap, that man is a machine.

I did learn that I don't think the Crow's are the right tire for the heat, they seemed to have some issues. The pressure was normal, but the sidewalls were so soft, I felt like I was continually rolling the rear tire off the rim. It never came off or lost any pressure, but it was super-squirrelly. Oh well, made it back to Thorny's and feasted on Brats.

Monday night, I really slept well.


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