By Kathy McSparran
Kathy with Camelbak
It's 109 degrees outside as I write this ... and you know what, I'm going skating today.
Am I nuts? ... Suicidal?
Nope. I just know what it takes to beat the heat.
First, the obvious: Take advantage of cooler early morning and evening hours.
I'll be heading out tonight at 7. Sure, the air temperature here in Phoenix will still be in the triple digits. But gone will be the laser-like sunshine of high noon, replaced by the friendlier rays of dusk.
Another obvious tip: Bring plenty of fluids.
I'll be skating tonight for an hour and a half. Due to the heat and low humidity, I'll be losing a lot of fluids. So I'll have to do something to prevent dehydration.
That where my 100-ounce Camelpak comes in handy. I'll fill it 1/3 ice cubes, 1/3 water and 1/3 Gatorade. Only my bra top or bikini strap will come between me and my Camelbak. So aside from fluids, my "polarbearpak" will provide me with plenty of cooling.
If it's especially hot (let's say over 100), I'll dunk the pack in water before donning it, which will give it an added dose of evaporative cooling power.
As you probably know, evaporative cooling is the reason us desert dwellers are always saying, "Yeah, but it's a dry heat." The low (single-digit) humidity causes water to evaporate with lightning speed. In fact, it happens so fast that you can step out of a pool on a 100-degree day and in seconds, find yourself shivering. Of course, before you have time to wrap yourself in a towel, you'll be bone dry and roasting again.
So the secret to staying cool is to keep your skin moist. I accomplish this with the help of a 16-ounce All Purpose Sprayer bottle. Between skates, I fill the bottle one-third with water and lay it on its side in the freezer. I fill it the rest of the way on my way out to skate and use it to "spritz" myself as I'm rolling.
If I set the nozzle to "fine mist," that baby'll keep me cool for 45 minutes. If I refill at a drinking fountain along the way, it will give me another 45 minutes of cool mist. (Note: In humid climates, evaporative cooling is less effective so you have to rely on the sheer cold of the icy pack and spritz water. In that case, tuck a second spray bottle of solid ice in your pack for that return trip.)
My "polarbearpak" and spritz bottle keep me cool even on the hottest days. With their help, every day of summer is a skating day!
Kathy McSparran is director of the Phoenix Inline skate school and writes the Inline Planet's Skate Coach column. She holds holds five IISA teaching certifications: Level 1 (Beginners & Advanced Beginners), Level 2 (Intermediates & Advanced Intermediates), BladeFitnessTM, Freestyle Dance and Fitness Inline Trainer.