June 30, 2010

The wages of summer

So, I'd just written a lengthy post about hot weather riding.  I've got a long resume of rides and races done in 100+ degree temps, with humidity.  I have a storied relationship with hydration - some good times, some bad, but a learning curve that has me nearly past my old dehydration foe.  In fact, dare I say it, the last couple of 200K's have been... easy?  So, what's the problem with scheduling a 217km permanent the week after returning from vacation?  

Let me be perfectly honest and direct, and repeat what I've said before:  this blog is more a collection of how NOT to do things, more-so than it's a grouping of good guidelines and success stories.  There are a lot of examples in these pages where it's not so-much about how I've managed to accomplish something, it's about how I managed to get away with something.
Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of my palmares - but sometimes I chuckle at how I survived any of the rides at all. This is another one of those times.

Vacation.  All I ever wanted.  Vacation.  Had to get away.  

Away from WHAT exactly?  Whatever I "got away from", I managed to "get away" from nearly everything else a person preparing to ride a permanent does.  Like training.  Hydrating OFF the bike.  I relaxed by the pool, I went through about a gallon of sunscreen, and about three gallons of assorted beers and adult beverages in a ten day period, probably a third of it on a golf course with my brother-in-law - a champion of peer pressure and enabling.  Yeah, I'm a grown-up.  I should know about things like self-control, limits, responsibility.  In normal life, I do.  On vacation?  Apparently I had to "get away" from all that, also.  I had a good time.  I don't think my body did, however.  Fast-forward to Sunday, early AM, June 27th:  despite my best attempts to get back on track in the 48-hours since I'd left vacation and returned home, my body was probably not in the best shape for physical exertion in the heat.  If I was a smarter person, I would have chased my R-12 earlier in the month, BEFORE vacation.  Instead, I figured that the best way to wrap up a vacation and maybe burn off some of the previous-week's indiscretions was a nice, long bicycle ride.  I was sorta right.  One thing I definitely know about myself after this particular vacation, bike ride or not:  I am too old for that kind of thing.  Next year?  Different.  Oh, I know... I *SAY* that... but really.  Enough.  Moderation is fine.  I'm definitely NOT twenty-three years old anymore.  No reason to pretend that I am for a week.  Mid-life crisis, anyone?  

The morning air was simply thick with humidity.  The wind chimes on the back deck were in full song, and the wind vane showed a clear indication of the awaiting headwind that would mark the first half of the ride.  Two other brave souls joined me;  Gary from KCMO, and Robert on his recumbent from Lenexa.  Riding with a group is a good thing on a day like this.  It was about 77ºF when we shoved off for the first control at 3:50AM, and - like I mentioned - humid.  Very humid.  In fact, looking back at the climate summary for Sunday, it was 85% relative humidity at 3AM.  

We arrived at the 7-Eleven, got our post-4:00AM receipts, and then turned our sights to La Cygne, KS.  All around us there was the threat of thunderstorms and there was a promise in the forecast of a wind-shift later in the morning that would turn this into a double-headwind ride.  I suppose that's payback for the double-tailwind ride back in March, but I'm optimistic:  no reason to panic... just pedal.  Lights beaming into the night, we set off.  This would be cake...nice and easy, no rush, just get the finish.  A little disconcerting, however, I noticed after only a few miles that my gloves were soaked with perspiration that had been running down my arms.  Still an hour from sun-up, hydration would be a key factor today.  The only thing I was repeating in my head was the fact that it wasn't as bad as yesterday (Saturday), where it was 97ºF in the afternoon while I'd mowed the grass.  Today, Sunday, it was only going to be in the mid-80's, so no worries.  I hadn't counted on the humidity.

I don't mean to feign complacency about the 200K level - it's not "easy", but you reach a point in fitness and exposure where it's not AS big a deal as it was on day-one.  As we made our way up the first monster hill on Antioch, I felt pretty good - but my brain did something like a preview of the entire route in my head, all at once - and I caught myself wondering about the day.  This is a long route, and I haven't really spent a lot of time in the heat quite yet.  I remembered the May 22nd brevet, and it was hot... but that was over a month ago.  Not many hot commutes, and then nearly 12 days with no riding at all?  Was this a good idea?  Crud... no more "June" left, really... it was today, or flush the first four rides of this second R-12 run.  Yeah, let's just ride this thing... sweat dripping beyond the capacity of my headband, down my cheek as I gulped another swig of water.

I love the early part of this ride, ANY ride that starts before dawn.  Headlights dancing on the road, no cars, catching the eye-glow of a deer standing in the road... and remembering Noah's recent encounter with one as I announce the presence of "Bambi" to the group, slowing.  Stars, the moon, ghostly landscapes on either side of us... Ahhhh.... but, it was warm.  Too warm for so early in the morning.

We arrived at Louisburg, near K-68 and Metcalf - the BP station wasn't open yet, so we were obviously making decent time into the headwind, but we were already thinking that getting more water wouldn't be a bad idea.  Thankfully, I'd brought the big bottles with me today.  The sky was lightening in the east, and the promised thunderstorms hadn't showed up - which was both good and bad.  Another 25 miles, and we'd be at the first control already - not shabby.

Gary and I marveled continuously on Robert's recumbent, and his technique for the hills.  Effortlessly he'd fly past us, which was a reminder to us upright folks that a hill was coming.  He'd use the momentum and speed to carry him most of the way up the grade, and then we'd catch him before the top - only to have him blast past us on the descent.  It was neat to see... and there was simply no catching him.  If the road was pitched slightly downhill for any length, forget it.  Climbing looked like a low-gear chore at best, but the low wind profile and the speed on the flats... dang.  I was working to stay in touch for most of the day.

US-69 came and went, and then Jingo Road, and another "chase Robert!" downhill blast on K-152, finally reaching La Cygne just before 7:00AM.  The requisite freight train blasted through the crossing a few minutes later; good timing again!  This time, I decided to forgo the Cheesy Potato Bites that I usually dive for at Casey's, and I'm not certain why... oh, yeah, I know... because it'd gotten HOT.  I don't recall the temperature at that point, but the sun came up while we rode south, and there was nothing in the sky to block it.  The thunderstorms were showing up north and west of us, which made for a brilliant and colorful sunrise, but we'd get no shade.  I took the chance to reapply sunscreen, and instead of eating a whole lot of solid food I pulled out a packet of Carboplex and mixed it with the remainder of my water from the last leg, and downed it.  I've found this works better for me from a hydration perspective when it gets hot:  down the liquid nutrition like a full meal, at a control - as opposed to sipping on it while riding.  That leaves both bottles open for hydration needs.  I bought a pack of Fig Newtons for the back pocket, in case the hunger caught back up in the next leg.
I also went through my usual bathroom routine, which made things more comfortable in the gut region.  NOW I was ready to ride!  The hills were coming!  

I've come to love the character of this route.  It's a mixed bag of everything, and it's turning into good training for a lot of folks.  It's hilly, but really only in the middle section.  It's flat, but not enough to get boring.  It's exposed, which is good for headwind training, or fun tailwind-driven blasts - but it's sheltered in other sections, so you get a break if the wind isn't friendly.  There are plenty of stops so you can travel light, but not too many.  Thanks to Randy of Kansas Cyclist, there is a lot more to see than I originally thought - and I found myself looking farther off the road into the trees and cross streets this time, looking for more.  The only downside to this route, however, is the last section seems long, exposed, and brutal if you are not prepared - as I'd find out later on.

The hills were brilliant.  Energy was good, push was spot-on.  I was feeling far better on the grades than I'd felt in several attempts, so perhaps the rest of vacation did me some measure of good - at least I wasn't paying too badly for my behavior.  Even though I was using every inch of my drivetrain, my RPMs were up and my cardio was working quite well.  Having a full range of gears is useless if you're only going to mash against one or two of them, and I have found that I've learned to select my gears more smartly - not mash quite so much, and use a more rounded approach to climbing:  the results, I tend to get over the top with something left now, instead of falling into the seat and quickly shifting down to try and get some sort of spin going again.  Consistency is good.

Pleasanton!  HOT!!!  At this point, the heat is getting ridiculous.  The local men are walking around shirtless, kids are complaining, and the air conditioning in the c-store is so much colder and drier than the outside air, I nearly get a headache walking into it.  Water, food.  NOW.  Unfortunately, the bathroom break at La Cygne was not the end of things in that regard - my stomach felt upset now, queasy.  I stopped into the mens room to right things, and diarrhea met me head-on.  Ugh, not good.  Not only did I lose some fluids, but something wasn't agreeing with me now.  Grand.  Whatever it was, though, this would be the only time it'd pop up on me.  I drank   nearly a full bottle of water with Elete drops in it, and then refilled with more ice and water in both bottles, after downing another serving of Carboplex, drank a real Coke - partially for calories, partially to settle the stomach, and had some Fig Newtons.  I bought another couple packs for the pockets.  Cards signed, and 20 minutes or so in the A/C, more sunscreen, a text to the wife saying "halfway", and we were ready to roll out again.  

This leg should be nice, from a wind perspective.  The forecast wasn't quite working out thunderstorm-wise, and we still had time to beat the wind forecast; it was 9:35AM when we left Pleasanton, and we were doing well on pace - the wind wasn't forecast to shift until something like 11AM, so the goal was to get back through La Cygne before it did.  Slightly nervous about my stomach, I was pleased to find no major issues on the road back to the last control - but I did notice that my push was starting to leave the legs a bit, and I got a mild cramping sensation on the last monster hill of the section, the one that always gets me.  I kept pedaling, and upped the electrolyte-water intake to nip it.  Robert and Gary were strong, and we three rolled back into La Cygne just a few minutes apart from each other.  

Wow... hotter still, really apparent (like the first two times) only when coming to a complete stop.  Upon hitting the sidewalk in front of the Casey's and stopping, the sweat was running like a faucet and the heat seemed to radiate off of everything.  The bank thermometer across the tracks a ways read 84ºF, and all three of us were convinced it was lying.  Mid-90's, easily.  Hard to tell... but the humidity and dewpoint was really high with thunderstorms threatening again only a couple miles north of us.  In fact, we'd watched cell after small cell pop up, dump, and die-off while we rode the middle 40 miles of the route.  There was so much moisture in the air, but none of it was falling on us as relief, and there were no clouds around us for shade.  The sauna was relentless.

I ate a slice of cheese pizza, drank a quart of Powerade Zero, another quart of water, more Carboplex for the final 46 miles to the finish, this being the official "lunch control" for me.  More sunscreen, and I noticed that parts of my cycling shorts were as white as the sunscreen I was applying, thick with salt from my skin.  Yikes... haven't seen THAT in a while.  I though back to Tejas, and Ort.  I thought of Tinbutt.  I thought of the stupid hot 300K and the Warbird back in '03.  I thought of hydration, and maybe taking this last part of the ride a little easier.  Robert and Gary both looked hot, sweaty, tired.  We all, however, had this one in the bag so long as we could finish before 6:30pm.  That little word crossed my mind again:  "cake".

We rode out of town, enjoying the cross wind -- it was 11:00AM, but the full wind shift was holding off, thankfully, and we ended up with more of a WSW cross-tailwind.  It was nice, and welcome, and well-earned as far as we three were concerned, having battled it for almost 70 miles on the way out.  After we stayed grouped together for safety and visibility up the long climb out of the valley on K-152, the next long, gentle downhills of Jingo Road were finding Robert far up the road, enjoying the recumbent in its natural habitat.  I kept up the middle of the pack, and Gary followed along - the three of us negotiating the occasional hill in good stead, taking advantage of the cross-tail wind, but being wary of the heat.  I didn't feel quite cooked, but I certainly was beginning to pay for pushing such a pace into the morning's headwind.  We'd managed a 16.0 average speed on the outbound, not bad considering the winds gusting to 15MPH, but it was catching up.  The sunscreen I'd just applied a few miles earlier was already running in streaks down my arms and legs, the sweat just pouring out of me.  With the slight vacuum of the tailwind, it was like baking the moisture out of pottery, like sitting in a kiln.  More and more, each sip of electrolyte water was followed by a hacking sensation, a spit to the roadside, and a slight amount of sinus pressure.  Hmmm.  Not good signs, surely.  

In fact, I get the impression that the Elete drops I'd been using for about a month had a flaw.  It might just be me, it might have been just too strong a mix - not sure;  but I got the impression in the later part of the ride that the liquid drops were not really creating a "solution" of my water -- rather, if this makes any sense, when ingesting a gulp of water it felt as if the electrolyte portion of the last mouthful was separating out, not getting swallowed - but instead hanging in the back of my throat.  The only solution, despite trying to rinse it down with another sip, was to hack it up and spit it out.  Was my body rejecting it?  I wasn't cramping... but my push was leaving, it seemed.  Contrast to Hammer's Endurloytes, which come in capsule form and are easily swallowed.  With that mode of delivery, I'm thinking that the "good stuff" is down in your gut, and probably will do more good.  Perhaps I'm reaching here, but it genuinely seemed that each loogey I was hocking up had a distinctly salty taste to it, not unlike tasting one of the Elete drops themselves.  Perhaps the heat and my level of exertion was emptying my sinuses?  Strange... whatever it was, it wasn't normal, it was really uncomfortable, was beginning to interfere with my breathing, and it was increasing in frequency.  The only thing I could fathom to make myself feel better was to drink more water... but something was changing.

Jingo Road came to an end, with an urge to relieve some pressure - so I rode across to a secluded gravel section and took care of business, happy to find things were perfectly as they should have been:  crystal-clear.  Confirmation that I'd been drinking enough was very welcome considering the conditions, but it was not explaining the fatigue, slight headache, and continuous desire to spit on the roadside and the sinus issues.  Was I bonking or something?  No clue.  I ate another Fig Newton bar to make sure.  US-69 became 339th Street, which became Metcalf - steps closer to Lousiburg, and a - now mandatory as far as I was concerned - stopping point.  

The hills came again - I always forget about this part:  fresh, early in the ride, the hills are there - sure - but they aren't as notable with only 30 miles in the bank.  With over a century on the meter, however, they are really "there" in the last part of the day.  More water, more hocking something salty into the bushes - nearly constant drainage or something happening, and another new visitor:  heartburn.  What the?  This couldn't be a good sign, and it's not something I've battled on the bike since I started riding in '98.  Back then, I blamed sugary sports drinks and largely being out of shape.  Today?  Things had gone pretty well so far, even considering the last 10 miles of slow, downward trending.  Heartburn, though?  I started scanning the mental documents:  what could this mean?  Not enough food?  Too much water?  Surely not.  It seemed that on every increase in effort, every hill - even trying to tender the amount I was pushing on the pedals - I was getting clear burning across the chest, and more hocking up of cloudy, salty phlegm.  This was not only getting old, it was beginning to worry me.  30 miles to go, maybe less... 

Louisburg!  Finally!  I dismounted, found Robert - who had taken a good lead with the downhills and momentum - and parked by the shady side of the building, then drank in the rest of my water, which was now almost hot.  It was a hard choice, packing and prepping for the ride the night before:  take the larger bottle to have MORE water, or take the insulated bottles to have COLD water?  I'd chosen the former, and downing the warm brine was almost difficult, almost burning.  Robert was complaining of the same problem:  "you know it's bad when it hurts to drink cold water."  

I stood in the shade of the gas station awning, looking south along Metcalf, scanning for Gary - he finally popped over the last hill, caught sight of me, and pulled in.  Something tells me, however, he would have anyways.  He looked almost as uncomfortable as I was feeling.  We all went inside, and were smacked hard with the air conditioning.  The discussion in the station was the same on the lips of the locals as it was for us - the heat, the humidity, the storms that had passed over and dumped rain a few hours earlier, only adding more moisture back to the air, baking everything in a sweltering, humid death-hold.  It was mildly comforting that it wasn't just me that was suffering - but I was still experiencing things that I hadn't felt since other, much hotter races.  I was experiencing things that I remember Ort complaining of on the last few laps of the Tejas 500 a couple years back.  I wasn't just "hot" and still ready to ride - I felt like I was going off-line.  Evidence in the restroom again was perfectly clear... so, technically, I was hydrated... so what gives???

I drank a real Coke - the caffeine probably being a poor choice, but I was associating it with feeling better:  maybe a little sugar, and definitely the COLD sensation of it passing my lips and running into my stomach.  I drank a full quart of Powerade - sadly not the Zero-calorie, sugar-free stuff I've grown to prefer, but the only thing this particular store sold, the full-strength, rot-gut sports swill.  It went down easily enough, but I still sipped it slowly - recalling times where I've seen riders slug it down, only to have it come right back up.  I was feeling the tentative tugs of nausea passing in and out.  I retreated to the restroom, removed my cycling cap and ran cold water through it, washed my face for the third time that day, ran my wrists under the cold stream of water and just concentrated on breathing.  In... Out.... relax.... If this was a bonk, I didn't care:  I wasn't about to eat anything solid.  Wasn't on my mind at all.  The Fig Newton package that was in my back pocket was removed long enough to notice the seam sealant used to hold the package together had softened enough for it to nearly fall open on its own, and then I put it back.  No more Carboplex left on me, so the calories from the Coke and the Powerade would have to do.  The three of us simply stood, staring out the window into the glare - which was almost painful for me to look at anymore.  

"I hope you're not in a hurry, because I can't go back out there quite yet."  It was Robert, and I had absolutely zero argument with his statement.  I was fine with taking as much time as needed here.  We were all in agreement.  Reluctantly, however, even as I was starting to feel more human again it was time to step back into the furnace and get back on the bicycles for the last 22-23 miles or so.  We all three agreed, let's regroup again at Stillwell - only eight or nine miles to the north - and take another break.  Again, there were no arguments.  We saddled up, and headed back onto the pavement - after a brief encounter with a young girl that was impressed and curious about Robert's recumbent.  With it's sleek and unconventional look, I get the impression he gets comments a lot!

It felt cooler, slightly.  I regretted having wished for dry roads and no storms earlier that morning - a thunderstorm would have felt awesome right then, but at least we were beginning to pass under a cloud deck of sorts.  After applying more sunscreen again, and the new clouds helping it cool down, perhaps I was turning a corner and the worst was over.  I was not in a hurry.  Even at a snails-pace, I could fall behind and still only be minutes behind Robert and Gary at Stillwell - and that's what happened.  Intentional?  Hardly... Even feeling slightly better, it was merely an illusion.  My speed was down.  My cadence was steady - but there was very little wattage behind each stroke.  Robert and Gary advanced up the road quickly, and I began to slip into auto-pilot.  

I coasted where I could, and every grade continued to produce the hacking sensation of heartburn.  This time I was sure - my tank is empty, I'm bonking probably - or near it - and the only thing in my gut is pure acid.  All I was doing was pouring salty water onto it.  My sinuses began to pound again, more drainage, more hocking and spitting.  The frequency of the urge to spit was downright annoying, but I had to get rid of whatever was in my mouth.  The only thing I really remember about this little eight or nine mile section was repeating the word "relax" over and over in my head, and spitting on the roadside.  I questioned whether or not my sunglasses were working, and I forgot where I was at times, "waking up" when the road surface changed slightly.  I remember stopping at 247th street at the stop sign, and then I remember reaching the Johnson County line at 215th street.  Finally at the Stillwell c-store, I knew I'd been drinking because my water bottles had less fluid in them - but I felt almost as bad as I'd felt pulling into Louisburg - and the majority of the miles between there and the last stop were a blur.

Gary and Robert both were laying prone on top of the partially-shaded picnic tables outside the store, drinking, looking zapped.  More restroom time for me, more evidence of perfect hydration - which just confused me again - more cold water over the wrists, more soaking the cycling cap, and emerging again to find a bottle of 7-Up and a bottle of Gatorade.  I'd completely lost the taste for the Elete drops I'd been using - as tasteless as they claim to be, it was like drinking sea-water.  Gatorade, again only the full-strength swill available here for some reason (why is the zero-cal stuff only sold in the sticks, and not up here in south JoCo?) and my two big bottles filled with ice-cubes.  I diluted the Gatorade into one of them, and left the second bottle as straight water - taking a cue from Robert and using it to douse myself for the last fourteen miles would help keep my temperature down.  It's one of my own tricks, too, but I hadn't been doing it since both bottles had been "treated" with Elete drops.  Shouldn't have mattered, because my jersey and shorts were completely clogged with body salts anyways.  Next time, it's Endurolyte tablets, period, and straight water in the bottles.  You can't lose your taste for something that you're just swallowing, and they seem to have a more complete ingredients list.

We mounted up again, and this time managed to stay almost lock-step together on the road.  We'd all reached a point where we were starting to watch each other.  Bonk?  I don't know.  Dehydration?  Every break indicated that I was staying right on top of hydration, all day.  SO, was it hyponatremia?  I don't think so, because I wasn't cramping at all - and complete lack of electrolytes would have had me in far worse condition.  The heartburn, the hacking up of salty, cloudy phlegm continued.  I was spitting up so much, and I knew Robert and Gary were behind me and that the wind had shifted into more of a headwind, so I began spitting into my gloves and wiping it onto my shorts.  Who cares anymore, but I wasn't about to spray spittle all over my fellow riders.  But the internal production of sticky crud continued, and a couple times I actually coughed and felt like a little bit more was coming up - but, thankfully, I never yacked.

The fast downhill on Antioch came and went without much enjoyment - no fast tuck, no smile this time... just going through the motions.  I may have even hit the brakes, I don't know.  I yawned extra-wide to try and get my ears to pop, to try and minimize the sinus pressure.  I even closed my eyes for a few seconds on the straight and even sections - and the creepy thing is that upon opening them, even after blinking, I would see echoes of some radial, ray pattern left in my purplish "after-vision"... the only thing I could figure was that it was the pattern of my iris, like I was getting a cornea burn or something.  With my 100% UV blocking glasses, I was confused how this was happening... but it's a first.  I've seen the echoes of white lines from staring at the pavement.. but never anything like this.  It would persist into the night, long after I'd stop riding.

I doused myself along my upper back, getting a delayed reaction to the ice-cold water.  I took sips of plain water, leaving the Gatorade in its bottle: I was finished drinking anything with a flavor.  I didn't want to eat.  I didn't really want to drink.  I kinda wanted to take a nap.  My body, clearly, had been begging me to stop for hours now - I think all three of us were simply pushing the issue, reaching for a finish - like Luke Skywalker reaching for Obi Wan Kenobi's ghostly image in the snowstorm on the ice planet of Hoth.  This was the last gasp.  175th street had never felt so long, and nearly all of it uphill it seemed.  The last three miles north on Murlen might as well have been a thousand.  It seemed impossible.  I was sure I was hallucinating - but maybe that shirtless jogger WAS there, maybe that WAS a rabbit rustling along the road next to me.  I knew what I wasn't seeing, however:  we all three knew, back at Stillwell - at this time of day, on a weekend, on these roads - this is cycling country... and we hadn't seen another soul on a bike all day.   We caught a red light at 159th and Murlen, joking about the two young girls on 24" mountain bikes; sidewalk riders -- "hey, see we're not nuts:  there's two other cyclists right there!"

One last mile was all that remained.... and I can't tell you how difficult it was to pass my street and keep riding to the 7-Eleven control.  Keep in mind, it's only 3/4ths of a mile from home to the control, by design - but it didn't matter to me:  I wanted to be home NOW.  I rationalized leaving the route, riding home, taking a cool shower, taking a nap, and waking up before the control closed to mount up and go get my card signed for the finish.  No, no... finish now, with the group.  I felt a small charge, but it didn't last long - we were in the parking lot, inside, buying one last item, one last receipt, one last signature and time-stamp on the card.  Done.  Done.  Done. 

I don't think I've ever stood inside that 7-Eleven for so long. 

Unable to stay balanced under my own power, I clutched my liter of water in one hand, and a four-foot high stack of 12-packs of whatever with my other, steadying my stance.  I stared out the window, my head throbbing, dizzy, nauseated, weary, hot, but then suddenly chilled - not even wanting to continue the conversation that was still taking place around me between Robert and Gary.  I wanted to close my eyes.  I wanted to call the wife to come get me... yes, with only 3/4ths of a mile left to ride, I wanted to call her.  I texted her instead.  Even the tone of my text must have been an indication -- I'd been texting her since Louisburg, at our two stops, and she knew it was bad.  Even for a non-cyclist, she knew that the last 22 miles usually took far less time than they'd taken today -- "take your time and be careful," she replied.

Getting back on the bike was SO hard.  I almost walked it home from there.  But, alas, I mounted up and piloted it home, my two companions-in-pain alongside - we three made it back, me to my home, they to their cars.  Handshakes, head-shakes... route cards and receipts collected.  

Slowly... real food.
Sitting in a chair.. eyes closed.

In the hours that followed, I continued to shake my head.  I erased my "future rides" section on the kitchen dry-erase board.  I posted hastily to social network sites, teasing this very blog post and doing nothing short of denouncing rando riding in my future.  I thought over and over, "what exactly is wrong with a nice, sensible METRIC CENTURY?  Why do I do this?  What am I proving?"  This simply CAN'T be good for my body, my life.  I went to sleep Sunday night with plans for the wife to take me to work.  I went to bed with plans to let the R-12 fall.  I went to bed with chills, dizziness, and a body temperature of 94ºF.  There was NO WAY I was doing this, ever again.  I felt like absolute crap.

Of course, you all know me too well.

While I am likely skipping the too-soon-for-me July 10th brevet in Topeka, there is an awful lot of "July" to think about what happened, and what I need to do differently.  But quit?  I don't think so... not now, after 48-hours of thought.  At this writing, I'm back on the bike - commuting - getting strength back, eating right, smiling again.  

Was I bonking?  I don't know... but it's possible I was knocking on the door.
Dehydrated?  Technically, no... but I don't know why I felt so horrid, and yet having evidence of being so well hydrated at every break.
The sinus pressure?  Perhaps a couple Sinu-tabs in my back pocket for next time?  I carry ibuprofen, Immodium, sunscreen, and extra Lantiseptic in a small tin... why not add a little sinus relief?  Done.  Perhaps it's a personal indication that things are wrong when its hot - and perhaps I should listen.  

The heartburn, the phlegm?  Not sure... researching, thinking.

Was my body simply still recovering from a liver-testing vacation?  Perhaps... and it's THAT which I am too old for, THAT which is not good for my body.  This isn't another "quitting coffee" ultimatum... merely a call to moderation, once again.  I'm an obsessive personality, as if there was any doubt.  With whatever it is, if a little is good - then a LOT must be great, right?  ... you get the idea.  When I ride a bike, this is also true.  I've got problems, but who doesn't?  My behavior on vacation, I'm not super proud of it - but I did have a memorable time.  I have little doubt that it compromised my riding preparedness, and my ability to stay hydrated at a muscular level.

All things being equal, I was not the only one having problems on Sunday... so perhaps it was just plain heat exhaustion.  Hydration was good - but with the humidity being so high it was clear that our bodies were not cooling themselves very well, or very completely.  I remember dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, confusion, blurred vision, fatigue.  Nothing I did on vacation changes the fact Sunday saw a high of 89ºF with an average relative humidity for the day of 72%.  That's pretty miserable, and I don't think any of the three of us were prepared for it - least of all, me.  

I have no doubts I can be smarter about it... because there will undoubtedly be a "next time".
We'll therefore call this "number 5" in the quest for R-12 #2.... and move forward.

Thanks for reading... and for goodness sake:  be smarter than me when you ride!


Anonymous said...

Wow - good info for this older rookie. Thanks!

Gary said...

Reading this for the first time, it is 7 degrees above zero, Dec 2010. Your story really brings that hot summer day back now. Looking forward to the 2011 Brevet season in earnest with some lofty goals in mind. Gary