The air was full of warm water vapor as we gathered in the parking lot for the Hat City Cycle Festival. Many members of the Westchester Cycling Club had taken the challenge to ride on this oppressively hot day in June. Most chose the shorter routes, but we decided it would be an adventure to see if we could ride 100 miles in 100 degree heat.
The sun was already burning at 8:00. The lower loop was full of shade though. My glasses kept steaming up, so I had to take them off. The strategy was to ride slowly and drink lots of water. We didn't see any other riders. In fact, we were alone pretty much the whole day. The rest stops were full of homemade baked goods and friendly volunteers. Must have been that anyone crazy enough to do the 100 had started much earlier. There are 3 loops, with the first cycling back to the start. The second is the longest, and you can turn back at the top, or go for the upper loop to complete the century. Most people just rode the middle loop and got done much earlier.
There was one point, at the end of the upper loop, when we were riding up a long shadeless hill. A car drove by and pulled to a stop at the top. A man got out and held up a jug of water. As we approached, he offered us some and suggested we reevaluate at the next rest stop and noted that if we wanted a ride back we could get one. We drank some water and poured some more over our heads and rode on. Too bad there's not a man with a soothing jug of water at the end of every hardship in life.
As it turned out, we felt good and finished the 100 miles. It wasn't fast, but it was fun. The homes and gardens of Connecticut are beautiful. It has taken me a while to get around to writing about it, and now looking back, I wish I could ride that day all over again. At the end, we sat eating ice cream while the sky opened up outside. We watched the puff balls that had been falling from the trees as they dodged the rain drops. Every so often one would get hit, and drop down, but manage to shed the weight of the water and rise up again to fly.
Music is Morning Yearning by Ben Harper