“Are you okay?” A voice behind me to my left.
I’m lost in catching my breath. Straddling my bicycle sweating and breathing hard in the sauna bath that is outside Florida this morning. I’m sucking down a gel pack. Which is amino acids, sugars, and a slight taste of kiwi. Which is closer to a slight taste of glob. I’m chasing this energy promise with water. “I’m okay. Yes. Thank you for asking.”
“Okay. Good. Well, I just wanted to make sure.”
I wash away the kiwi glob with more water. It’s 9:30 and I’m working on getting in as many Ks as I can before the heat crests the horizon on this planet we now know as Crematoria.
We say our goodbyes and with one good push of my right foot toward the ground I’m back in the saddle chasing kilometers. Thick air dense with that heat an oven holds after cooking a Thanksgiving turkey for five hours. But it doesn’t smell that good. It smells like hot mud and saltwater. Which isn’t a bad smell. It’s just not the smell you expect to taste. That’s the difference between saturated humidity and low humidity. You can taste the smells when it’s saturated.
I’m rolling south on a residential road along a canal. It’s a stretch that feeds into a roundabout that feeds side streets back into the neighborhood. The roundabout circles a lake. The roundabout is closed at one point for repairs so for now, the entirety is long stretch of canal, half a roundabout, short stretch of canal, roundabout, long stretch of canal. A north/south circuit surrounding tidal waters. One of a few good stretches I can ride without worrying much about traffic. Wild things agree with this sentiment. Muscovy hens lead ducklings here and there. Mallards and speckled Florida mallards meander. Egret, ibis, small grey egret, and one massive male Muscovy that’s decided he’ll stand in the middle of the road, on the apex of a speed bump, and hiss the song of his people. I commune with nature and count the kilometers. And stop again in a spot of shade to squirt water from a sports bottle into my mouth. And breath. Speed bump Muscovy takes exception to my location choice and waddles closer. I can hear his feet slap the pavement. How does he walk on that hot pavement? WHY…