Biking home from work in the hundred-degree heat yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t help noticing that the bike path was nearly deserted. There’s a trail that runs behind the office building where I work, and it t-bones the Capital City bike trail, which runs parallel to Willy Street and Atwood Avenue. It’s usually chockablock with bicycle riders in the hour immediately after quitting time, but yesterday I saw maybe a dozen cyclists as I tried to pedal home without breathing. That’s really hard to do, by the way. Not as hard as trying to breathe air hot enough to scald my throat, but almost.
I was puzzled at first by the lack of traffic. I checked the time when I stopped for the light at Willy Street, thinking it was just possible I’d left work too early. I got a pit in my stomach thinking I might have to turn around and go back to the office, but no, it was after four-thirty. I’d left at the same time I always do.
Riding up Atwood Avenue I saw one, maybe two bikers. That was when it got really weird. Bikers in Madison ride when the temps are below freezing. Surely, I thought, the hot weather wasn’t making them return to their cars? But, after riding as far as the Goodman Community Center and seeing maybe two or three more bicyclists, I had to stop calling myself Shirley and face the fact that Madison’s cyclists had met a heat wave that turned them into weather wusses. I was just about the only person out there yesterday.
I made it home in three breaths, by the way.