Jim on Day 6

Over these past six days, I have had some thoughts bouncing around like the ball careening off posts and bumpers in a pinball machine. Perhaps I am living in a continuous state of heat exhaustion, and the pan-seared portions of the top of my head have become nothing but posts and bumpers.

The first two hours of our rides have been glorious; the next three manageable; and the last two awful. But today on day six a cloud appeared. And then more, and instead of 100º at the top of 5300′ Sherman Pass we were giddy with 80º road heat and cloud blessed shade. We even for the first time in five days felt sweat bead up rather than evaporate. It is the little things we notice.

Shade is our best friend. Sometimes we get so desperate that a sign “Rocks Ahead” will give us hope that the road will pass under a shady outcropping. I find myself dashing from one piece to another even when they are miles apart. Shade awaits somewhere. Homes are tucked under trees and bermed into hillsides. One had a watered sod roof. Yet others, almost exclusively new homes, are perched on sun burnt hill tops with grand views, slurping up energy. At the end of day five in Republic the watered lawn felt great to the bare feet at Margie’s. The grass temperature was 72º and the late day air 92º-98º, depending on what the wind was picking up.

Wind is among our short list of weather friends. A slight headwind keeps our heads cool enough to avoid heat exhaustion with these 105º-110º road temperatures. Yesterday we had a tail wind for a portion of the climb and my head took on a tomatoesque feel and look. To fully understand what it is like to top the pass and rip downhill at 30+mph into a mounting noon day heat wave over a 100º, you would need to roll up your car windows, turn your heater and fan on full blast, and shove your face into the vent.

On day four I saw a national weather map showing a large blob of 100º+ heat in the Great Basin and a slim finger poking up to Omak, Washington. There we were, riding the flying finger. All heat waves have an end and this one will wash out by Tuesday or Wednesday. We may see daytime highs of 70º. We are looking forward to this.  The pre-dawn awake time for the past five days was initially novel, but it isn’t any longer.

Don’t send crying towels. We knew we would be introduced to adversity. It makes for better stories. If we weren’t so focused on the weather, we might be whimpering about the the passes. We do feel adequately trained, however. Bring it on: the cold front, please.

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bradedmondson

Writing about social change and how it happens.

2 thoughts on “Jim on Day 6”

  1. Remember to watch out for heat exhaustion. We had it in Idaho even though it was only 70 degrees out. Problem was no shade, and high altitude. Luckily we both had it the same day and had “montezuma’s revenge” symptoms which is never good on a bike (smile). A ranger told us to change into light colored shirts as even though the dark shirts didn’t show dirt, they absorbed heat. And, to not put anything in water bottle except for water as he thought bacteria and other disgusting stuff was growing in our water bottles and polluting us.
    Congratulations on your trip so far. Those moutains out west and steep and tough but the scenery gorgeous. You never remember the easy times but rather the challenges. Besides if it were easy everyone would be doing it (smile).
    Have a great trip and glad to hear all is going well for you. Jane

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  2. Hi Jim and others,
    Joe and I finally arrived home from our 18 day trip in MI where we kayaked, motorcycled, renewed our wedding vows (20 years) and visited with family and friends.
    While reading this posted I certainly felt your (heat/pain). Discovered on a couple of motorcycle trips to the west that I could tolerate snow, hail, rain, heavy winds so much better than the furnace type of heat. It was horrible. Of course we had long pants, MC jackets, helmets, boots that did not help but I learned to wet down my t-shirt every time we stopped and also my buffs(wonderful inventions) one on my neck and one on my head under my helmet.
    Your adventures sound wonderful. I admire you all for what you are doing.
    We will be keeping ourselves posted on your trip. Patti

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