July 16, 2013: Overheated

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I needed to get out on my bicycle more often. In general, my idea was pretty sound. Specifically, though, I made a major mistake in making this decision on a day that the thermometer hit 32 degrees Celsius (that’s about 90 for those of you working in Fahrenheit).  I decided to head to my not-so-local library to pick up some light summer reading. After heading out of the house and then returning three times for my a) helmet, b) backpack, and c) bicycle lock, I was on my way!

Before long, I learned some important lessons:

1)    The trip to the library is much hillier and much longer than I thought. 
2)    An alternative explanation is that I am older and less fit than I imagine myself to be. 
3)    It is also possible that both of the previous points are true. 
4)    Not all of our local children are aware that they should a) wear helmets, b) ride on the right side of the road, and c), ride single file as opposed to four abreast. The consequence of ignoring these rules is that they almost collided with a sweaty, overheated, not-so-fit woman who simply wanted to pick up a couple of beach reads.

When I reached the library, having narrowly missed knocking down a few local children, I was sorely regretting not going back to the house a fourth time in order to retrieve a water bottle. A very nice lady at the library seemed concerned about whether I could safely get myself back home. I assured her that I was just fine, checked out my books, and made my escape. Somehow, it seemed to me that riding back fast was my best strategy – after all, I’d be home in my air-conditioned house sooner that way!

Things seemed to be going pretty smoothly until I arrived home, got off my bicycle, and almost fell down. Quite sensibly, I thought, I poured myself a very large glass of ice water from the refrigerator, and downed it. 

It rapidly came right back up. 

As I slowly sipped a second, room temperature glass of water, I reflected on the error of my ways. I know better than to head out on one of the hottest days of the year for a vigorous bicycle ride with no water. 

The day after my folly, my husband and I watched our town’s Canada Day parade with Dr. Stephen Cheung, Canada Research Chair and Professor in Brock University’s Department of Kinesiology. An avid cyclist, Dr. Cheung researches the effects of extreme temperatures on human physiology. In addition to having published numerous research articles, he has written Cutting-Edge Cycling (with Hunter Allen) and Advanced Environmental Exercise Physiology. Even if I hadn’t known better, I certainly know someone who does. 

Meet Dr. Cheung here. He is being interviewed by two bright young scholars (his own children): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmB0CYm77Ac

Enjoy the weather, but don't overdo it in the extreme heat!