Monday, May 23, 2016

Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

A week ago summer descended on Miami. One day we were enjoying delightful late spring weather; the next day the hot, humid weather of the summer rainy season arrived.

Saturday we set off on a long ride. Al and I do 50 to 70 mile rides four mornings a week. Every couple of weeks we do a long ride on one of those four mornings, upping the mileage to about 80 miles. This week we were joined by three of our cycling friends, which turned out to be very, very lucky.

Now there are things you need to do if you take long rides during Miami's hot months:
  • Try to avoid the hottest part of the day by starting early. (Very early.
  • Stay well hydrated. Use electrolyte drinks on long rides. 
  • Acclimate to the heat and humidity by gradually increasing the length and intensity of rides. (In other words, a distance or intensity level you can easily do in the cooler months can be a stretch when the weather gets hot and steamy. Ease into it.)
Saturday I got a little stupid. (Al might say a lot stupid.) I ignored the importance of acclimating to the summer weather. We pedaled from home to where our friends were parking their cars and chatted a bit as people got ready to ride. Then off our little group pedaled. We wheeled down to Black Point Marina, then continued on to Robert Is Here for a break and snack. The weatherman had promised some clouds, but instead it had been mostly hot sunshine so far. We all finished a couple of water bottles each on the first half of the ride. At Robert Is Here we refilled and added ice. After a nice break we got back on our bikes, clipped in, and headed back. Pedal, pedal, pedal. About halfway back we stopped at a convenience store for more water and Gatorade. We were really hot and sweaty but OK.

At 66 miles I had a minor cramp in my left hamstring. We stopped for a minute. After a quick stretch the cramp went away. We dropped the pace, and I moved to an easier gear. At 67 miles we crossed a bump of a bridge over a canal. I was in my easiest gear, but within a couple of blocks first one hamstring then the other started to cramp...a lot. I couldn't believe it was happening. Just a week ago Al and I had done 80 miles with nary a problem. I got off my bike, stretched out the cramping muscles, and, well, stood there feeling really, really stupid.

We weren't that far from where we'd met our three friends at the beginning of the ride. They went to their cars, returned for Al and me, and ferried us and our bikes home. They went way out of their way to do this...with smiles and some jokes.

Good cycling friends like these are truly one of life's treasures. When you go off the rails in a moment of stupidity, they lend a hand (in the nicest way) so you can roll again another day.