I think Third World sang the song, “96 Degrees in the shade; real hot, in the shade.” We would have welcomed that temperature today as it has been mainly 110+ all day in eastern California and southern Nevada. I thought that I was an extra in a Buster Poindexter video: “Hot, Hot, Hot.” This afternoon the temperature hit 118 while I was climbing west of Overton, Nevada, just southwest of Las Vegas, but the highest temperature of the day has been 120.
The heat is the story today: Greg and Carl finished their midnight run around six this morning making exceptional time and covering more than 120 miles in spite of the darkness, the potholes, and the other sundry challenges that come with riding in the desert from 12 midnight until 6 am, including heat–it didn’t drop below 80 last night, I suspect. When Kelly and Dan prepared to ride this morning, they were met by temperatures already in the low 80’s and an intense sun. They covered their miles determinedly, which included a number of climbs, but Mark and I took over for them around 11:30 after they had entered Nevada. Mark, true to his early form (and his good fortune with weather, wind, and terrain) took off like a shot, riding at 35 miles per hour with a strong tail wind. Erin and I, who were following in the Prius, took some time to catch him. Because of the oppressive heat, it was already 111 degrees by then, I offered to ride, but Mark begged off, determined to put in 20 miles. So, at the 20 mile marker for Mark, I stepped on my bicycle and took off like a shot as well–same tailwind, same good terrain. I rode along imaging riding down the Vegas strip in just over an hour–32 miles to Vegas read the sign I passed quickly. Those dreams melted quickly, like ice cream on the July pavement, when the wind changed directions, the terrain changed, and the heat took its toll. After 11 or so miles, I was approached by a lovely Latino family that informed me that “the Bishop” had a flat, and that I was to trudge on to the best of my ability. The lovely family offered me cool water, which I graciously accepted. I climbed for a bit longer and was relived to see the Prius, which spelled me with air-conditioned comfort for a few minutes–the temperature had risen to 114 degrees by then. We determined to ride in the car for a few moments to catch our breath, then Mark took over and traveled 7 or 8 miles before I spelled him. By this time, the temperature hit 118, so we spelled each other every fifteen to twenty minutes. Finally, after an hour or so of this, and while I was making a climb, we determined to “shut it down” for the afternoon. The temperature hovered between 117 and 120 for the remainder of the afternoon, so Mark and I stopped riding after 3 hours. We all caravaned to Fun N Sun RV Park in Overton, where we are now ensconced for a few minutes, hopeful that the temperature will drop: the woman at the RV Park has not given us much hope, as she told us that it was 111 last night at 9 PM.
Some of the unexpected challenges of the heat included feeling as if my feet were on fire. Riding down hill, which is usually a pleasure, frustrated, as a hot wind blew in my face and made me feel as if I were cycling through a hot wind tunnel. Mark complained that his handlebars were too hot to hold. My flat tire, which put an end to my day, was caused by the heat: the metal in the tire punctured the tube. No matter how cold the water starts, within five minutes it is almost boiling hot and challenging to drink. Even when drinking and feeling hydrated one’s temperature rises and there isn’t much one can do–little shade in the desert.
We are in good shape, having covered well over 300 miles, so we will do what will be prudent and safe concerning our traveling tonight and tomorrow.