Friday, August 1, 2008

It's Hot!!!

We are about to break an 83 year old record for the most days over 100°F here in Austin, according to the Statesman. In my own particular corner of the world, the implication is that it's like biking home through an oven. My water bottle is about 1.5 L, and I usually finish it about 3/4th of the way home, and I usually have to cool off a little bit before going inside, where the air-conditioning (set to 81°F) is too cold for me and give me chills if I transition too quickly. Yeesh!
The high temperatures tend to introduce a few new creaks and squeaks on my bike, too. For a while, I started experiencing rim-flats, when the cheap rubber rim tape that came with my bike got too soft in the heat and allowed the inner tube to expand through the spoke holes and touch the spokes nuts. Whoever thought that would happen? Easy to fix with some better quality cloth rim tape, but annoying nonetheless. In addition, the grease in my drive line has thinned out noticeably in the hot weather and I have to re-grease more frequently and notice a bit more friction, which doesn't really help the body heat issue. Finally, there's a new creaky noise in the cranks (not the one I blogged about earlier) that got a little better when when I tightened the cranks but never really went away. It's not there in the morning, when it's cooler, but appears faithfully in the afternoon when when the heat's on and I'm baking my way home.
This is the time of year also brings out the perverse phenomenon of what I call "summer frost bite." I noticed it recently when my advisor walked into the lab wearing a sweatshirt. Many of the area secretaries also bring sweaters during the summer months. Apparently, Texans feel the need to show off how well our air conditioners work, so in many of the offices and labs, the thermostat is set below 70°F. Try walking in from outside, with your skin at 102°F and adjusting 30° down. The worst eve case of this was when I lived in an all-bills-paid apartment with roommates who kept the air at 66°F. I think I actually got sick one time after a bike ride. Fortunately, I'm alone in my office much of the time, and I've found the thermostat control...

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