“Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids.”
— A message once affixed to my late mother-in-law’s refrigerator
What are the chances?
Two members of the same immediate family, father and son, nearly overcome by extremes of temperature, one of heat the other of cold, on the same day, at about the same hour, more than 800 miles apart, while engaging in their favorite pastimes?
The day was July 2, the Saturday of the Independence Day weekend.
I decided the day before to join seven friends in a bicycle ride from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas.
The driving distance from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas on Interstate 30 — almost due west to east — is about 30 miles.
But to avoid traffic in this sprawling metropolis, we chose a safer, indirect cycling route that took us northeast toward Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, through the upscale development of Las Colinas in Irving, around the northern edge of Bachman Lake and Dallas Love Field into the leafy neighborhoods of north Dallas. That route is nearly 50 miles.
The temperature was forecast to be over 100 degrees as we gathered for a planned 9 a.m. start at a coffeee shop near my house on Fort Worth’s Near South Side. We didn’t get away until after 9:30 and were supposed to meet another rider at a Starbucks in Euless along Airport Freeway at 10 a.m. But we didn’t get there until after 11 a.m. and didn’t get back onto the road until almost noon.
By then, the sun was high in a cloudless sky and we had already passed a time-temperature sign that said 105 degrees. During a hydration stop at a convenience store as we pushed into north Dallas, I was feeling the effects of the heat and thought about calling my wife for a rescue. But I rode on with my younger, obviously fitter, companions.
After more than 41 miles, I hit the wall, bonked, ran out of steam. I pulled into a shady driveway to try to recover. I was nauseous, my legs were rubbery and I felt like crawling into a cool, dark hole to die. When my fellow riders rode up to offer aid, one of them said: “Hey, this is where one of my best friends lives.”
We roused the friend, who builds bicycle frames in a workshop behind his house. He brought bottles of cold water, and an elderly gentleman who lives across the street offered his garden hose. My riding companions sprayed me with cool water until I began to feel human again.
I thought briefly about continuing the ride to a sports bar in downtown Dallas, Dick’s Last Resort, where we planned to have lunch before taking the Trinity Railway Express back to Fort Worth. But my companions wisely advised against it. One rider, whose wife happened to be visiting her father in Dallas, gave her a call. Like a guardian angel, she came in her minivan to pick up me and my bike and deliver me to Dick’s Last Resort.
While waiting for my friends to arrive on their bikes, I rehydrated with two pints of beer. I was amazed at the recuperative properties of Blue Moon and Shiner Bock.
Later that evening at home, as I checked Facebook, I came across this post by son Thomas: “Tried pond skimming at A-Basin today. Epic fail!! One of my skis is at the bottom of a lake, I’m bruised and bloodied and I think I’m suffering from hypothermia. Great end to a ski season though.”
“What in the heck is pond-skimming?” I asked Thomas by phone.
His explanation: As the snow melts at the end of the ski season, the water pools in “ponds” at the bottom of the ski slopes. Skiers shushing down the slopes aim for the ponds and try to ski across them like water skiers. The mayhem is regularly captured on video and posted on YouTube. (See a couple videos below of pond-skimming at A-Basin.)
Thomas, who had been wearing swimming trunks to ski in 72-degree weather, said his teeth were chattering so rapidly when he emerged from the icy water that he couldn’t speak. He was taken down the mountain in a snowmobile.
He had to drive back to A-Basin on the Fourth of July to retrieve the ski that had been fished out of the pond. I, too, was without some essential gear for a time. In my addled state, I had left my iPhone and hydrapack in the minivan that rescued me. I drove to my friend’s house later in the day to pick up the stuff.
“Oy vey!” my wife, Mary Ellen, responded to Thomas’ Facebook posting. “One family member suffering from hypothermia and another from heat exhaustion!”
What are the chances?