Greater Greater Washington

Video: DC cyclists get used to record heat

Most Washingtonians who depend on the bicycle (their own or Capital Bikeshare) as their main mode of travel around town took this July's scorching days in stride, as this short by DC filmmaker Jay Mallin shows.

While drivers felt the furnace blast walking between their cars and buildings, many cyclists found it easier than expected to embrace to the heat, and learned to enjoy sweat. Bottles of water, sunscreen, loose light-colored clothing, and frequent breaks are all that's needed for bicycling to be all-weather transportation on summer's hottest days.

And it's good that DC-area residents are getting used to it, because summers like this one are likely to become the new normal for our region.

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Malcolm Kenton lives in the DC neighborhood of Bloomingdale. Hailing from Greensboro, NC and a graduate of Guilford College, he is a passionate advocate for world-class passenger rail and other forms of sustainable transportation, and for incorporating nature and low-impact design into the urban fabric. The views he expresses on GGW are his own. 

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Yeah. The heat really isn't that bad on a bike. At least you get a breeze. I did take a couple days off when the air quality got into the red, though. I can really feel the impact of the bad air over the course of a several mile ride.

by Greg on Aug 9, 2011 9:58 am • linkreport

Heat is manageable if you drink plenty of water, are in reasonably good fitness, and have some shade or breeze. If it's hotter than about 95 degrees, it starts to get dangerous riding for any prolonged time. I saw an ambulance crew attending to a jogger suffering from heatstroke on the W&OD in July.

by Ben on Aug 9, 2011 10:04 am • linkreport

the heat was tough, the air was worse.

by charlie on Aug 9, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

Plenty of deodorant is also a good idea.

by Ron on Aug 9, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

Agree w/ @charlie.

I had a hard time with the air quality over the last couple weeks, combining pollution with allergies, but this week seems a lot better thus far.

by Jacques on Aug 9, 2011 10:27 am • linkreport

I don't know. I'm a world class wimp when it comes to heat, and I just could NOT bring myself to be out in it for more than a few minutes at a time, let alone moving around in it. I ride in sleet and snow and all but the most extreme temperatures (I've found that 15 degrees is my toes' frostbite threshold) but I just absolutely refuse to do it in heat like that, and I really don't see how anyone does. I could barely walk to the bus stop without getting sick (feeling faint, nauseated).

by Catherine on Aug 9, 2011 10:38 am • linkreport

I too have curbed CaBi for the summer. It's fine when you're moving, but the minute you stop the sweat pours out. My threshold for pain is 75% humidity.

by OX4 on Aug 9, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport

Quite a bit of sidewalk bike riding in that video... if you ride on the sidewalk, I shake my fist at thee!

by Ben on Aug 9, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

The heat is 10x better than the cold.

by TGEOA on Aug 9, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

I was a collegiate XC runner who went to Thailand for the Peace Corps. For those who don't know, a "cool" day in Thailand is identical to a hot August day in DC.

I trained for and ran the Bangkok marathon but gave up running for biking immediately after crossing the finish line (and just before nearly passing out...). Why? The wind chill. Biking in 110 degree heat with 100% humidity is MUCH easier than running.

Of course, this didn't stop me from returning to marathons when I returned to the USA but knowing the worst heat/humidity is only for 2 months (if that) makes it much more bearable.

by Humid on Aug 9, 2011 11:06 am • linkreport

Give me cold weather any day. I can warm myself up quite easily. Cooling myself down is tricky.

by Alex B. on Aug 9, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

I'm with Alex B. I can't hack the heat and humidity combination. Now, this is given that I am a walker/ jogger, and don't get much of a breeze as bikers might. I can't wait for the transition to fall. And then I may move before next summer if this is going to be the new norm!

by Margaret Pinard on Aug 9, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

Put me in with the ones who favor cold over the heat. I start perspiring profusely when the weather rises above 85, and I couldn't imagine cycling outdoors and arriving at my destination in no great condition.

by Andrew on Aug 9, 2011 5:11 pm • linkreport

I don't mind the heat and humidity as much as the pollution. On code red days you feel disgusting inside and out doing any sort of exercise.

by SJE on Aug 9, 2011 6:06 pm • linkreport

Bring on the heat - just sweat it out, drink lots of water, and shower at the far end. That said, I'm only about 5-6 miles from work.
Also, not too bothered by the cold. Try plastic wrap / bags over the socks to reduce the toe frostbite effect.

by J on Aug 9, 2011 9:48 pm • linkreport

Love love love the video (except the nauseating rant about the global warming-a warmer earth is good for supporting life forms, plus the whole global warming lie has been and is continuing to be debunked by credible science. [http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html] Someone has said 'The bigger the lie, the more people believe it."
According to researchers at the University of Western Australia, this effect -- the "continued influence effect of misinformation" -- occurs even if a retraction is issued, understood, believed, and remembered.
The experiment itself sounds like an instruction set for propagandists: "Repetition was used to more strongly encode the misinformation. Cognitive loading, when attention is divided between two tasks, was used to weaken or dilute the messages.") Back to biking-Yeah, if you sweat and you're wearing really nice powder, deodorant, perfume or cologne, you become a human fragrance diffuser reed emanating wonderful aromatherapy as your sweat is evaporated in the breeze.

by Glamour Biker on Aug 13, 2011 11:55 am • linkreport

global warming lie has been and is continuing to be debunked by credible science

I'm curious if you believe humans ever landed on the moon. Or the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun. After all, the latter has been debunked by credible science.

http://www.galileowaswrong.com/galileowaswrong/

Like you, I define "credible science" as "science which supports conclusions I find comforting" rather than "science which has the support of most mainstream scientists, FWIW.

by oboe on Aug 14, 2011 3:31 pm • linkreport

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