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2010-06-21 5:18 PM
One thing I'm afraid of is heat. I'm not one of your small tropical persons.
On last year's 400K, I lost all kinds of time struggling from shade tree to shade tree through a sweltering afternoon that I should have experienced much further along the route, having built up enough time cushion that I could take a break somewhere cool—except I'd stopped early in the ride to help someone I shouldn't have helped. He wasn't prepared, and as time dragged on during the repair stop, that fact became increasingly apparent.
(This bike geek entry is bikier-geekier than usual. You may want to stop reading it.)
Yesterday it was 90° in NYC and it was my last day to do any distance before it would start working against me on the 600K, so I did a run up to Bear Mountain and tried some things out. One was sunscreen, applied only once so I could gauge the effectiveness of a single application. After nine hours of heat and sun, as well as a brief cloudburst in the middle of the day, I was a little crispy but not scorched, so reapplication every 50 miles should do it.
The last time I got really upset, my family ended up with brownies and banana bread and a deep-cleaned kitchen. This just being noives (I'm also teaching my children to say "toidy-toid street"), I'm concentrating on the minutiae of my electrolytes.
Another thing I tried on this ride was a return to religious replenishment of electrolytes. (Hammer Endurolytes, 4 capsules per hour because I am not that small tropical person), and I tried out some HEED, a powder that's basically everything you want from Gatorade, minus the sugar and aggressive flavoring, which I asked my local bike shop to start carrying. I can't tell how much of my lack of heat headache was the HEED and how much was the Endurolytes and hydration, but does it matter? The whole thing together worked; the center held. I'll experiment with breaking it apart some other time. (And Strawberry HEED with a teabag in it isn't bad.)
If you suddenly feel like a really good rider, you've got a tailwind. But I also felt that the odd availability of energy and clearheadedness in the last hour of the ride was partly due to the strict nutrition regimen in the previous eight. I wasn't dehydrated or electrolyte-depleted, I was cooking along at 16 mph, and though I was hungry, it wasn't the kind where your insulin levels are throwing spikes like a tectonic plate slip.
The noives are about this:
I can't afford to do another 600K this year if I don't finish this one. I can't even really afford to do it this time, but a Super Randonneur series is my one objective this year that I can see a clear path toward. Complete four brevets: 200K, 300K, 400K, 600K. That's the path. Either I'm adequate to each effort or I'm not, either know I gave it everything or I didn't. I finish or I DNF. Then it's over and I go home and live with however they turned out. But those are the steps. There are no other steps.
I've never cared about team sports, either playing or watching. What do they have to do with me? I don't get rooting for a bunch of people I don't know playing a game I'm not in, alongside a bunch of other people who don't know them and aren't in it either. Is it a need to position your persona alongside winners? Can't you go try to win something yourself?
Yes, I know, I'm wrong. Go ahead and explain it. I'm still not going to get it.
This year I don't have what used to let me do all those things I used to do at the same time and expect to win at most of them. I'm tired. It's been years of battles, and more defeats than is good for my fighting heart, and while I wish I could say I'm bloody but unbowed...there's maybe just a little bowing. A smidge of bowing.
But I can get on a bike and ride it.
I carried and used some single-serving powder packets of Perpetuem, too, which is complex and simple carbohydrates and protein. The only sports drink I can stay mentally sharp with and don't get a carb hangover from.
And a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, parceled out over the nine hours.
Now, partly this was just a good approach and an experiment that needed doing, and partly B of effin' A put another hold on a check, so I couldn't go spending $20 along the way on juice and protein cocktails and spinach feta croissants in Nyack. Just what I already own and could carry and my knowledge of where the free water is.
Oh—and my Thermos. My beloved Thermos. Got a distance cyclist in your life? Here's their next present:
I packed that Thermos with ice and filled it with water Sunday morning. Took it out for nine hours in the heat. Monday afternoon it still had ice in it.
If you made me choose between my Thermos and my clipless cycling sandals, I'd get an anguished novel out of it.
Because after a couple hundred miles without sleep, I get a little inefficient, my mnemonic at each controle is:
Eats, Tylenol, and Sunscreen are obvious. I'll leave most of "Ass" for you to ponder later, but I did finally break down and use some Chamois Creme yesterday, hoping it would relieve friction between butt and shorts so I can postpone the saddle sores I start to get around 200 miles when the weather's swampy. I think it will; at 90°, I'd expect to feel a little chafing by mile 50 or 60, but it didn't happen. The stuff works.
And that's all I'm saying about my ass.
Lewis Taylor finally left me alone for most of the ride, but I know I got The Blue Danube from hearing it on the playground P.A. over the weekend. I have no control over what gets lodged between my ears when my legs are going.
And I have some nagging tax stuff to take care of this week so I can finally stop fretting about it, and a job proposal and some provisioning for the big ride. (Those last two are actually fun.) Then it's just me and my noives and the ride start. If you love me, wish me tailwinds. If you hate me, wish me a cracked top tube leading to frame failure and extensive road rash.
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