Monday, February 16, 2009

Daisy Chain

In the following story the names have been changed to protect the innocent and because I I can’t remember the real name of the person involved, so I have decided to call her Daisy.

The Story of Daisy

When you go on your first club ride, you will often be given helpful advice. (Here I am speaking of actual helpful advice rather than advice given primarily for its amusement value to the giver.)

Daisy was a teacher of spin classes who was taking to the road for the first time in preparation for a triathlon. There can be friendly rivalry between roadies and trigeeks or between triathletes and people who couldn’t run a mile if a bear were chasing them, depending on which side of the fence you sit on, but beginners, no matter why they are riding, always get good advice distilled from years and miles of wisdom. Now, just because you’ve only been doing something for fifteen minutes and someone else has been doing it for twenty years doesn’t actually guarantee that they know more about it than you do, but it’s got to be considered a pretty good indicator, don't you think?

Daisy didn't think so.

She was discovering a few differences between riding a spin bike and riding on the road. One difference is that you don’t control the environment. The temperature, the wind, the steepness of the hills, all of these things are beyond your ability to do anything about them. Another difference is that your bike doesn’t stay upright unless you make it stay upright. You have to pay attention to that. There is also the fact that your bike can wobble quite a bit, swaying from side to side in some sort of bizarre dance that makes everyone around you nervous.

Daisy was also discovering that people were offering her advice. The advice which she was given included such things as:

“You should drink water. I notice you don’t have a water bottle. Take one of mine.”

Daisy’s response was: “I think water bottles are just for show. People don’t actually drink while they’re on rides or in races.”

I have to admit that I found this a curious sentiment for someone who teaches a spin class. Do they not drink during spin classes? I honestly don’t know. I’ve ridden a spin bike and found it to be a less boring indoor ride alternative than some other things I’ve tried, but I’ve never taken a class. Don’t they drink?

I also discovered, on Daisy’s second ride when, for the second time, she nearly bonked, that she was on a low carb diet.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, on a lot of rides, your muscles are primarily powered by carbs. Bonking is what happens to you when your body uses up its share of the carbs and your brain decides that whatever blood sugar remains in your system needs to be saved for the proprietary use of the brain, all of which is a longwinded way of saying that your brain wants you to stop exercising, preferably RIGHT NOW!

A nasty headaches is an early symptom, soon to be followed by nausea, dizziness, and falling down. This is a battle that the brain is going to win. Fortunately, the bonk is easy to combat. Take in some carbs. Drink a soda, eat a candy bar, how about a gel? Your options are numerous.

Daisy, however, didn’t like this idea because, let us not forget, she was on a low carb diet. This is rather like taking your car on a long drive while it is on a low gasoline diet – not the best of all ideas.

Daisy didn’t ride with us many times. For one thing, she got tired of people offering her water. What I would have called an act of kindness seemed to tick her off. Maybe it’s because nearly every rider in the group offered her water, and she didn’t want it. (On her last ride with the club, she had a water bottle. She never drank out of it, and she later admitted that it was merely there so no one would offer her water. Curse you nice people!)

These rides were conducted in the summertime, and everyone ended up soaked in sweat at the end. Some of us, however, were still hydrated. Others, not so much.

Well, in the end, if you don’t want the advice which is offered to you, don’t follow it, but it is just possible that someone else may know better than you do from time to time.

Daisy disagrees, but that’s her prerogative.

See you on the road.

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