Denver's 100-degree heat today set the new record for the highest recorded temperature on this date,
though that pales next to the mercury's ascent to 109 down in Pueblo (an all-time record). Everybody
their own way of dealing with the heat, but my favorite is to go out biking. It's got two major advantages:
1) I really enjoy biking in 100-degree heat, and 2) nobody else does.
I don't mean to sound antisocial, but I don't usually go out biking because I'm hoping to run into a bunch
of people. You can get hurt doing that, for one thing. So, one of the benefits of the high temperatures is
that I pretty much get the bike trails to myself.
Though there are still obstacles out there besides people. Snakes, for example, seem to like coming out
in the hot weather and finding someplace inconvenient to stretch out in. Today there was even a snake
in one of the public restrooms along the trail, and I figured I'd try to persuade it to go elsewhere
before anyone mistook it for a drain snake and it met with some terrible plumbing-related fate.
Snakes, however, are not much like people. If you prod a typical person repeatedly with something the
proportional size of a school bus--even the kind of person who might be hanging around a
public restroom--that person would probably run away without a whole lot of pondering and internal debate,
at least as far as the drinking fountain.
| "pleasepleasePLEASEplease run over my head. just this once" |
Not so with snakes. You can prod a snake with something much, much larger than it is and it'll react with,
"huh? what was that?"--except without the words. You can poke it another twenty or thirty times and it'll still react exactly the same
way and never notice a pattern or respond in a more novel and/or constructive fashion. If snakes had hands, I'm sure they'd
just scratch their heads and look at you funny, but since they don't, they have to be satisfied with
looking at you funny. Eventually, though, it is possible to get a snake to move out of the bathroom or
off the bike trail before someone comes along who mistakes it for a small, mobile speedbump.
Mammals, at least, display more behavioral variety out on the trails. They might not be any smarter in
their reactions, but at least they're faster. Dogs, for example, are nature's masochists. If they
see you coming down the bike trail, they'll run right out in front of you, looking straight at you, and doing
their doggie-best to beg you, "pleasepleasePLEASEplease run over my head. just this once. come on, you can
do it. just drive over my head. plllleeeeeease!" I guess if you have heavy sado-clyclo-bestialist leanings, this
could be a major turn-on, but I'm not into pushy doggie-bottoms.
Rabbits, on the other hand, are just plain tired of life and want to get it all over with as quickly as
possible. They'll crouch on the side of the trail and, when you get really close, they'll jump out
and try to scoot under your wheels. They don't bother making eye contact or begging you to hit
them the way dogs do. Rabbits don't want to get to know you or involve you in any twisted
S&M relationships; to them you're just a tool they can use to do themselves in, shuffle off
this mortal coil, run down the curtain, and join the choir invisible; that sort of stuff.
Squirrels jump in front of you just for kicks. They aren't trying to off themselves,
they're going through that phase when they're convinced that they're indestructable.
Life is just not exciting enough for a typical
young squirrel: jumping off trees has lost its thrill and most squirrels are too young to get
into any of the adult hangouts they'd really want to hang out in. So they egg each
other on to see who's brave enough to play chicken with the next oncoming cyclist. It wouldn't
surprise me if these little squirrel gangs have taken up smoking and engaging in all sorts of
other dangerous habits. We're lucky that nobody has yet started making cans of spray
paint suited for squirrel-size hands; as soon as that happens we'll see the bike trails
covered by the tagging-wars of rival squirrel gangs.
We're supposed to have a couple more hundred-degree days this week. Looks like I've worn through the
tread on my back tire (again) and I hate changing bike tires, so I think I'll put off changing it for at least
a week or two.
'Course I'm running the risk that it'll blow up (which happens sometimes), but at least the trails will
be pretty near empty. It'll just be those unsympathetic gangs of squirrels laughing if it goes.