Cycling in a heatwave versus a torrential downpour, #F4LBR17

There’s a severe heat advisory in effect in Ontario this week and my newsfeed is full of stories like this one.

Me, I’m doing okay though I can’t run outside in these temperatures. Mostly though it’s making me miss the bike rally!

Last year on the Friends for Life Bike Rally, it rained and rained. I blogged lots about the rally but skipped some of the worst moments. (Hint: It wasn’t warm rain. There was wind too. And we also camped in the rain.) The worst bits didn’t bear reflecting on really. I tend to cope with these sorts of things stoically and when they’re over I forget about them and move on. Here’s the Yarn Harlot’s take on it all.

This year wasn’t without its weather challenges either. This year was the year of heat advisories. Almost every day had a severe heat alert. The road safety crew kept yelling at us, “Hydrate! Hydrate! ” A few people asked me which was worse but from my point of view there was no comparison. Give me scorching heat over cold torrential downpours any day.

I only had two bad thoughts about the heat and here they are:

Is this how the world is going to end? It’s okay now and okay here but with temperature records being broken daily, I started to get a bit apocalyptic about it all. The temperatures in Iran for example were terrifying me.

Why are we leaving on our bikes at 930? It’s getting hot and sunny by then. I’m up at 6. I could be ready to leave by 7. Let me get on my bike and ride, while it’s a little bit cooler outside. But we’re a group, groups have rules to make things safe for everyone and deep down I’m okay with that. On the surface I can be like a 3rd grader, “stupid rules” but in real life I’m a mom and I get the need for rules.

On the bright side, cycling in the heat is better than running in the heat. Our team had a few very fit young men who biked all day and then ran but I had zero temptation to join them. I love the breeze when you’re riding and stopping at traffic lights was its own special form of agony.

Hot cyclists!

People say to take it slow and there’s some truth to that. But you don’t want to take it too slow. Why not? Time on the bike. Cyclists say that but what does it mean? “Time on the bike” refers to how long you’re out there and it’s a factor in suffering too. Sure it’s easier to ride at 20 km/hr. But then your hundred km event turns into an all day affair. If you ride 25 km/hr, it’s better to get it over with and be out there for less time. 30 km/hr might be pushing yourself too hard in the heat so you need to watch both time and effort.

Part of what made the heat okay was camping, sleeping outside and getting acclimated. It’s a very hot day today in the big city of Toronto and for some reason the heat always feels worse here. Something about coming and going out of air conditioned buildings and the heat radiating up from the concrete. On the rally we slept outside and it cooled down at night. We had easy access to lakes to swim in and after a day or two the heat felt pretty okay to me.

Swimming in a cool lake after a hot day riding. Photo credit: Dean Miller

I confess that on the one day it did rain the cool water wasn’t entirely unwelcome.

I’ve registered for next year. What will it bring? Oobleck? Locusts? You can sponsor me here.


Here’s some tips about riding in the heat:



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