As we go into our 20th consecutive day of 100-degree temperatures in Dallas-Fort Worth, a sad story out of Wichita, Kan., takes on special relevance and provides some lessons.
Larry L. Godfrey, an experienced cyclist who was training for a charity ride, was found dead on Saturday, apparently of heat stroke, along a road near Oxford, in Sumner County southeast of Wichita.
Godfrey, 47, was riding alone on a regular training route from his home in Arkansas City, Kan., to Oxford and back, a round trip of about 50 miles. The temperature that Saturday was about 105 degrees.
When he arrived in Oxford, said a report on Wichita TV station KWCH/Channel 12, he called his wife at 11:05 a.m. to say that he was turning around and heading home. At about 11:50, he called his wife again to tell her that “he was in distress.”
Godfrey was training for a two-day bicycling fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The 150 mile, two-day ride begins Sept. 17 in Olathe, overnights in Lawrence and ends Sept. 18 back in Olathe.
I had my own experience with overwhelming heat on July 2, the Saturday of the Fourth of July weekend. The temperature that day, too, was well over 100 degrees.
I and a group of friends were cycling from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas along an indirect route of nearly 50 miles that aimed to avoid much of the traffic in this sprawling Metroplex. (See July 8 blog post, “Craziness in the genes.”)
After 41 miles, in a leafy neighborhood of north Dallas, I hit the wall. My caring friends recognized the onset of heat exhaustion, brought bottles of cold water from a house on the street where I bonked and commandeered a garden hose to spray me with cool water to bring down my core temperature. One rider, whose wife happened to be visting her father in Dallas, asked her to fetch me in her minivan and take me and my bike to a downtown resturant where we were planning to have lunch before taking the train back to Fort Worth.
The experience drove home a couple guidelines that I had ignored myself many times while cycling in very hot weather: Don’t ride alone. And choose a route where help is readily available in case of an emergency.
Be careful out there.