Be careful out there

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.”

Larry Godfrey

His wife jumped into her car to try to find her husband along his training route. But a sheriff’s deputy patrolling Oxford Road found Godfrey first, the TV report said. “He was not breathing and had no pulse. Emergency crews adminstered aid, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.” Godfrey still had water in his hydrapack, and doctors believe he had a heat stroke, the TV report said.
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.



Filed under Environment, Training

5 responses to “Be careful out there

  1. John Vandevelde

    Good advice on all counts!
    Los Angeles has had a spate of bicyling deaths from collisions with cars, and on May 31st I lost my nephew in the freakish car incident you were kind enough to reported on in your June 13th blog.
    It is hard enough to deal with protecting ourselves from drivers, but we also need to protect ourselves from ourselves. I have become an advocate not just of helmets, but of stopping at stop signs and stoplights, and otherwise obeying traffic laws, even if I am zooming along in full “tour” gear on my racing bike.
    I am also an advocate of a simple concept, drive like bicyclists are your kids or grandkids, and ride like you are with your kids and grandkids. Be kind and thoughtful and respectful out there .

  2. One other point to this excellent post: you not only need to take in a lot of fluid to replace the sweat, but you also have to replace the electrolytes or you can become even more dehydrated while you simultaneously look for a bathroom.

  3. Yes, I did ride to work today – as I have every work day this month.

  4. Katie

    I was googling my dad just for the heck of it today and of all things he landed as the main point of your story! It still hurts to this day that he is not here, but if what happened to him will help someone else in the end that was his whole goal. He was always helping others and this was just another way to do it!

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