Editors Note: This is the first article from WeBikeEugene’s newest contributor, Jennifer Hughes!
Sweat poured down my face and landed in the puddle forming on the insulating, black floor mat. I took a gulp from my third, 16-ounce water bottle, then my arms flung it back in its cage. I turned up the volume of my iPod so loud that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” drowned out my heavy breathing. With exhaustion creeping up through my burning lungs, I put my head down and pedaled harder. “You got it Jenn, keep it up!” The enthusiastic lab assistant shouted as I ferociously pedaled on a funky ergometer stationary bike in a heat chamber set to a sweltering 104 degrees Fahrenheit. “Your data is looking good!”
I was only 28 minutes into a 60-minute go-all-out-and-ride-as-hard-as-you-can time trial, and my legs felt like lead. My heart pounded through my sweat-soaked, quick drying performance t-shirt that was a shade darker than when I started. The seconds felt like minutes, the minutes like hours.
Seventeen days earlier, I had committed to 20 days as a lab rat for Santiago Lorenzo, who, at the time of the study, was a University of Oregon Ph.D student working on his dissertation. Lorenzo is currently doing post-doctorate training in the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. For the study, Lorenzo was researching what effects training in the heat have on athletic performance in hot and cold weather. When I heard about earning 500 dollars as a subject, I signed my name on the dotted line.