Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weather and Bicycles

In my mid twenties I was sent to Southern Alberta to work for a few days outdoors.  New to the west, it was a surprise to me that this province had a desert – like area.  Deep, dry sand, cactus and no trees anywhere to be seen.  Being outside in the full sun with no water, no hat and no sunscreen, it was no wonder that I suffered a sun stroke – although I didn’t know what was wrong with me at the time.

Driving back to Edmonton, my vision was blurred and I soon began to see double.  Frequently I had to pull off the highway, lurch out of the vehicle and vomit on the side of the road.  While driving, a sharp, pounding headache made concentrating on the road difficult.  Getting home, my girlfriend made me stay in bed for a couple days when she saw how terrible I looked.

A few years ago, I was bicycle camping in southeastern British Columbia with my friend Roy in full sun and 39 degrees celcius temperatures.  I began to feel woozy.  Recognizing those same symptoms from the ill-fated trip from my 20’s, I told my friend that I’d have to cool off or we would have to stop for the night right then and there.

My friend wanted me to continue on to the next town which was only a few kilometers up the trail.  What convinced me was his description of the steep, paved road up ahead that would take us into town.  I figured that if the road was steep enough, the airflow whipping past us would cool me off quicker than any other method at hand.

The 50+ kilometers an hour speed we hit going into town began to work its cooling magic and when we stepped into an air conditioned grocery store, I knew I was going to feel better soon.  I grabbed a tall, cold can of beer from the cooler and began to rub it over my body.  First my head, then my face, my neck and shoulders and when no one was looking, the rest of my body.
After an hour of aimlessly wandering the aisles of the store, Roy and I found ourselves in a line at the checkout counter.  It was then that I discovered that my cold beer was now a warm beer.  I debated what to do.  Should I dash back to the cooler and stuff the warm beer onto its shelves and grab a cold one?  Who’s going to know that this can of beer has been rubbed all over a sweaty male body?  (Unless the odd strand of hair caught in the pull tab was a clue).

Standing at the cooler, I decided that ethically, I had used the beer so I should pay for it.  Besides, after 3 more hours of climbing to our campsite, any kind of beer, warm or not would be welcome!

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