BikeDue to a series of planning errors I recently found myself on the cusp of a serious case of heat exhaustion. I was mountain biking a remote section of Texas Hill Country during a completely predictable heat wave. There is a reason why seasoned survivors and those with skills in the field of wilderness self-preservation advocate that travelers concentrate on their own immediate circumstances first and foremost. That reason is that worrying about peripheral issues is dangerous!

I had commandeered my wife's vehicle while mine lay wounded in the local mechanic's outfit. In summary, I'd planned a leisurely nine mile ride through one of the Hill Country's expansive biking ranches and then an uneventful drive back into town to secure my son as he was released from school that afternoon.

I got lost. To add insult to injury I realized two hours in that I was not only lost but that I was toting not one, but two, leaky bladders from my backpack mule. As if things weren't progressing badly enough I apparently did not secure the zippers on the mule after replacing the bladders. Twenty minutes of fruitless peddling later I came to the stark realization that the constant vibration had dislodged my cellular phone and only source of automated time-keeping. My mind began to race. Was I already too late to pick-up my son? Would my wife realize I wasn't coming too late, leaving my son stranded until late in the evening? What would my wife do in regards to looking for me? Would I even make it back with no method of communication and no way, other than the blazing sun, of knowing where I was or where I was going. My temples began to pound. My heart raced. I couldn't stop sweating, even in the shade. As my hydration packs ran lower my heart rate increased. My legs began to shake and my thinking became increasingly irrational. Maybe three miles later I felt my first muscle spam, followed by another, and another. Roughly four hours into the hellish ride I sensed the first wave of chills rattle my slowing body. Pebbles became as daunting as mountains. I was scared. I could barely lift my legs to breach the relentless cycle of canyon-rise-canyon.

If this scenario seems too awful to be true. It isn't. It happened to me on Wednesday. I was fortunate to locate a fire road and literally coast out of the outback chaparral on a downhill slope. Luckily after about 6 miles I was able to find my car. I drove to the Dairy Queen for food and drink. Still, I suffered through heart irregularities, headaches and nightmares for the rest of the evening. But it could have been worse.

In retrospect, it took me only a few quiet moments to dissect this abomination in judgment. Had I simply left my family out of the equation when I was out there I might very well have saved myself a great deal of physical trauma and more than a little heartache. I was alone in those hills and all the worrying, fretting, and emoting would do me no good. I now consider that God may have given us selfishness to treat like fire. A useful tool to keep on the side, to use from time to time, and yes, even to snuff out when it grows too large. But a tool nonetheless.

The issue is always in front of us, not fifty miles away, nor standing right behind us.


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