Overdoing it in Bad Air

by Fitcoachion | Last Updated: August 21, 2020


We have a “high pressure” ridge in our area that’s been trapping the high temperature- multiple days of temperatures over 100 F, and, uncharacteristically for this area, not cooling as much at night. On Tuesday we had a thunderstorm with lightning that started a bunch of wildfires that CalFire calls the “scu lightning complex”.: 157,000 plus acres burning, 5% contained so far, with this description: “Multiple locations throughout Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Joaquin County, and Stanislaus County”. Combined with the high pressure ridge this is making the air smoky, with unhealthy air quality due to particulates.

On wednesday I was ready to go for my planned four hour bike/hiking adventure and noticed the air smelled a bit smoky. I stubbornly went anyway. It should have tipped me off when I looked back over my shoulder and saw the red sun. My picture of it didn’t come out unfortunately.

I decided since the air didn’t smell too bad I’d continue on anyway. Poor judgement. I ended up having a great ride and hike. I rode hard to Santa Teresa park, and pushed my bike up the trail above the Bernal ranch historic park, a nice challenging climb:

Here is looking back on the valley from up high. That’s not fog burning off, it’s bad air:

The sun was higher in the sky by this time so no longer red but still hazy:

I continued on till the trail intersected Bernal road, the road back south. I headed into the hills West of Morgan Hill on the way. This was a hard ride, with lots of intervals thrown in. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got home feeling great.

But it was not the smartest thing to do. Exercising hard outdoors is exactly what you’re supposed to avoid on bad air days. I think I dodged a bullet because the air quality wasn’t quite as bad in the early morning when I went. But after I got home and the first thing my wife said was “I was worried about you!”, I finally checked the air quality forecast. Note to self: next time check that first! It’s forecast to be “unhealthy” at least through sunday. So I will do my exercise indoors till then.

This is the sun in the evening out front our house last night: