Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flirting with the D Monster

My parnter Jane and I set out with a plan duplicate to last week's long ride. A different route, much more rural... but same plan that was perfectly balanced last week. It's a morning start. Not too hot.

The first hour called for 20"sec jump sprints every third minute. These didn't feel great. But I got through them. And I acutally felt stronger as the first hour goes on. About the one hour mark... I noticed my water supply was getting low. We were pretty near our goal, so I suggest a turn back, and we do.

It's getting warmer. No, hot. Fast. After turning around the strength of headwind is surprising. After a climb, I half-empty my third and last water bottle. Quick check of the GPS I realize we're well over an hour to the next gas station for water. Jane offers me a bottle... I don't take it, but soon ask for it. This isn't good.

The combo of drying wind and heat are really draining me. My mind drifts. I ride off the shoulder of the road into the grass. The fact that I ride into the grass isn't worrisome. I've done that before... What concerns me is: I was a good ten yards off into the grass before I cognitively grasp what is happening. Bad sign. And I'm not sweating very much. Because of the headwind, or my body shutting down? Donno.

At this point, I'm in conservation mode. I'm pretty sure I'll be OK, but simply can't expend any extra energy. I'm going to be moving slow from here on. Jane goes up the road at her usual rapid pace with keys to the truck, and plan to loop back for me. I have trouble getting the key out of my pocket to hand over. I'm wobbly at this point. And I have to stop on any sort of 'hill' to recover. I consider stopping to wait for her. But there is no shade. If I'm going to roast in the sun, I'm going to make progress to the gas station.

Then... like an oasis... or perhaps a mirage I see...


A church along the route has set up a pop-up tent and a cooler of *water*. I pull in. And proceed to slam *five* bottles of water back-to-back-to-back. I'm pretty sure the folks think I'm crazy. But I don't care. A few moments thanking them profusely, filling all of my bottles, I carry on. Only a few miles ahead is another water stop. Having more supply, I drained two more bottles, and refilled.

A mile or so up the road, I'm sweating again. A lot. And I'm feeling better. Far from 'right' but I'm clearly going to be OK for the first time in what seems like an eternity. I finally start to make double digit speeds while keeping a close eye for Jane on the road...

I almost make it back to where we parked. I still haven't seen Jane driving the other direction. Have I missed her? I finally see her. But she doesn't see me. Why would she be even looking for me this close to the destination? When we parted I was barely moving! And we cross paths... I spend the next hour worried. Not about me, but that knowing that she can't find me and is worried about me has me worried about her. It takes a while, but eventually we connect. I'm thankful she was here today! As scary as this day was, it was a real comfort knowing I wasn't alone.

And I drink a lot more water. Several hours pass before I pee. As I type this there is water bottle by my side! Still feel a little 'funny' but I think everything seems ok.

Don't flirt with the dehydration monster. It sucks. I've bonked. I've crashed. But dehydration is worse. Way worse. In years of riding this was my first and hopefully last firltation with dehydration. It can happen to anyone. A reminder to pre-hydrate, plan water stops, and overestimate needs. Especially until you acclimate to the summer's heat.

Glug, glug, glug, glug...