Cooking yourself?

Yesterday, I’m out riding 70 miles on a familiar route. The last two times that I’ve done this particular route, the temperatures were just awful, nearing or well exceeding 100 degrees each time.

Anyway yesterday, I’m riding with two friends, and about 55 miles into the ride, one friend comments that her computer is reporting the air temperature of 97 degrees. Really? This early in the day?

That’s when I remembered something. I was equaling the 97 to what is reported via “proper” weather stations for air temperatures, and I had to correct my perception. Think about it. Where are these weather station temperatures taken? Oh…up 40 or more feet. Up there sheltered from direct sunlight with better access to any passing winds, the temps are lower than what they are just above the pavement.

So, could my friend’s sensor be correct? Absolutely. Later when I was able to download the log from my heart rate monitor computer/watch, it was confirmed. Mine said the same temp as hers did.

So, what gives? We all tend to forget and discard that the temperature just above the pavement is much higher/hotter (during the summer) than it is at those weather stations. We don’t think of them as “real” temperatures, but they are! That just-above-the-pavement temperature is what impacts us more, especially if you happen to be on a newly paved, black, asphalt road. No matter what surface you’re riding, it’s hotter.

So when you get out for these remaining summer rides, take into account the temperature reading your car, HRM, or computer displays. Make adjustments – be it slower speed, lesser distance, more pit stops for fuel/hydration, drink more, etc. Also to add one more factor into the mix which we all already know, higher humidity makes these temps feel worse. That’s why the 97 yesterday wasn’t so bad as the 98 back last September when I was totally COOKED by the end of the ride. Literally. Back in September, the humidity was very high, and I felt like someone had put me on a BBQ spit.

Oh…and what’s the hottest I’ve ever done that 70 mile route? 108 degrees, with (yep, you guessed it) a wicked humidity. That made for a traumatic ride, and one I won’t soon forget!

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  • @will1 – Well, at least that part is good. We’re having humidity in the 40-50% range for the past week, too, and it’s been so refreshing! (Down from 60-80%+)

    (Btw, [and hijacking my own conversation] Will, are you getting emails for these @username tags? I’m not and am just curious.)

  • @rapunzel Fortunately, the humidity hasn’t bee too bad this year, mostly around 40-50% or so. Occasionally it drops low enough that I almost feel like I’m back in New Mexico. I’m just glad it hasn’t been in the 50-70% range like it was last year; our heat indices are already high enough.

  • @will1 – How’s the humidity over your way?

    I’m grateful that we’ve only been above 100 (as per weather station readings) a handful of times. I’ve bailed from riding on those days b/c of the temps above the pavement and the horrid humidity makes it feel like 120. (I’ve been more comfortable in a 180 degree dry heat sauna than outside in the humidity.) Although if I had the choice of either ride in it or be off the bike for long periods of time, I guess I’d have to ride in it …and get used to it.

    Holy moly – 109?! Yikes!

    I’m riding a century on Sunday. So far, the chances of rain are ZERO. (Darn) High in the 90’s. If the humidity remains low, I should be just fine. …Although I may get rolling before the official ride start just to mow some miles in cooler temps.

  • @rapunzel I hear you on the craziness of the heat this summer, it’s just been awful.

    While we didn’t get the record for most consecutive days over 100 this year (we only had 40 in a row, the record was 42), we are now in second place for most days in the 100s (we’ll have 57 today, the record is 69, and in the current 10 day forecast, all 10 days are expected to top 100 degrees. We did, however, break the less glamorous, yet more dangerous record for high low temperatures. We’ve now had 46 days this year where the temperature never dropped below 80 degrees (the old record was 39), and we’ve had nine days where the temperature never dropped below 85. I have never wanted to see October so much in my life (it’s got to cool down by then, right? Right?)

    This Saturday, I’ll be riding in the Hotter’N Hell 100, and they’ve moved the start time up an hour for the 100 mile riders so we can suffer a bit less. The current forecast is for a low of 79 and a high of 109. My goal is to spend less than one hour riding in temps over 100. If you don’t hear from me next week you’ll know that I failed to reach this goal and burst into flames on the course.

  • It’s getting to the point down here where we are surprised if the temp stays in the low 90’s. Gee if we get 89, it’s like a breathe of fresh air. …and 83 – I got goosebumps! Had to put up the windows in my car to keep from getting too chilled. Sheez.

    That reminds me. Last summer the temps were really hot. So when we hit the cold temps in the fall, I bailed from road riding b/c it was “way too cold”. However, I had ridden comfortably in previous winters (with much less cycling-specific cold weather clothing). I think we’re at (or extremely close to) 100 days now with temps over 90 for the year. Except if the climate change stuff keeps on going, we’ll have even MORE snow than we had last winter…which closes my fav mtb trail. sigh.

  • I don’t have a temperature reading on my bike and I rarely ride past bank signs that have them. Still I have been on some pretty hot rides. I actually hit more last year than this year.

    In 2010 in started with the Raven Rock Ramble Century in early May. We suddenly had high 90s for the day of the ride. The first hot days are always a shock to the body. You just don’t have time to adjust. Then I was riding sweeper on the 100K Ride For Life and got isolated waiting for a cramping rider to get sagged. I never caught the next people and the waiting put me riding in a really hot part of the day. I don’t remember the temperature but I remember when we broke down the big tents after the ride, we needed a break while packing them. Once the shade was gone, we just couldn’t take the heat for 30 minutes to finish the packing. Then came the hotest of the rides, The Tour de Cure from Cary to Southern Pines and back. The weatherman temps were above 100 with a heat index of about 115. I don’t even want to think about what the pavement temps were. At one point we left a rest stop planning to skip the next one which was only 7 miles away. But by the time we got to it, we stopped for more ice for our water bottles. Ironically the 4th of July Firecracker ride was very pleasant. We were done by early afternoon and it had probably only hit the low 90s.

  • Lately (as result of these vaporizing summer temps), I’ve been known to sit with an ice pack on my abdomen to help cool myself down. Mostly, I do this after doing a long morning ride and find myself still steaming later in the day, such that I won’t be able to get to sleep. Ice pack on the belly? Works great. I’m “out” in a few minutes and sleep better the rest of the night.

    As far as displays, I’m just glad my HRM doesn’t show me temps while I’m riding, and where I ride, there are no bank signs to add noise to the sizzle in my brain, either. Lucky me. But…unlucky you, Will. That bites!

  • All I know is that I am actually quite happy I don’t have a temperature readout on my bike computer. It’s bad enough riding past the banks on my way to and from work and seeing the temperature flashing on their displays. I already know it’s damn hot out, because I just sat for two minutes at a red light doing my best impression of a pork chop under a broiler, there’s no need to punch me in the face with a 110 degree reading as I ride past, much less every time I look down at my computer.

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