A N(ICE) Day in the Desert

Back in my marathon running days (2002 and 2003), I once had an overheating event on a long run in the summer. At the end of the run, I was not able to turn the key in my car door to open it. Fortunately, one of my running buddies had been a nurse and she recognized the symptoms, got me to an air-conditioned space, ordered me a cold Coke, and basically, saved me.

When Susie and I checked the weather report for Borrego Springs and Brawley, our starting location and our original end location for today, we knew it would be hot. Rather than get to the point of a heat event, our game plan was prevention. First step was to ride before the day really heated up. We got up at 5:30 and I started riding before 7 AM. We arrived in Brawley by 10:30 and had a nice lunch at Brownie’s Diner where the RTA team had eaten last fall. With so many hours left in the day, we decided to press on to Glamis, even though the temperature would be reasonable (under 100 degrees) only until about 2 PM.


For the soaring temperature part of the day, our plan was to create a microclimate in and around me.

To keep my inside cool, I drank continuously from water bottles we had frozen the night before, and Susie swapped the warm ones for cold ones as we went.

To create a microclimate around me, every couple of miles we rotated among these:

  • Poured water on my head, which then trickled down my back and arms (so nice)
  • Stuck ice cubes through the holes in my helmet
  • Put bags of ice in the back pocket of my shirt near my kidneys
  • Put ice cubes down the front of my shirt
  • Put frozen bandanas around my neck.

The good thing is that it worked. I never overheated. My cycling speed was never diminished for physiological reasons. 

We went through about three gallons of water. As we approached Glamis, our five-pound bag of ice got awfully low, but we knew there was a store there if we needed it. It’s a good thing we didn’t need it because it was Sunday and we found it closed when we arrived. As we packed up in Glamis, the temperature gauge on the car reported 108 degrees.

Susie kept me alive and functional today. Thank you, Susie! Susie also lived in her own microclimate for the day inside Oasis, the Prius.


P.S. We had Chinese food for dinner. This was in my fortune cookie:



Ride details: 

Start and end: From past Borrego Springs to Glamis, CA

Distance: 73.5 miles

Elevation gain: 1047 (pretty flat)

Features: August heat in the desert

Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/692688925


9 thoughts on “A N(ICE) Day in the Desert

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