Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Drinking Problem

One day the Seyboro Cyclists decided to ride to the beach. This is a regular occurrence – you ride about eighty miles (or a hundred if you want to start from a more distant location), you eat a big meal, you get driven back home, and a good time is had by all.

A beach ride was scheduled, but there were a few of us unfortunate souls who couldn’t give up the entire day to a bike ride, no matter how fun it would have been, so we decided to ride part way with the group and then turn around and head back home. We’d get a lot of miles, we’d get to ride with friends, it would be great.

There was one teensy little problem: it was hot.

No, let me rephrase that. It was scorchingly blisteringly hot.

The heat is not really my friend, but I was doing fine when we set out. (Of course I was. It was early in the morning, so it wasn’t hot yet.) My problem came at the turnaround point. By this time I was starting to feel a little bit cooked, and my bottles were empty. That’s when I made the mistake.

Since we’d be driving back, that meant we had a nice little convoy of vehicles with us, so they sagged the ride, carrying food and drinks for the rest of us. I needed to get my bottles refilled, and, as I wasn’t paying attention, they were refilled with a sports drink that I will call CrocodileAde instead of using its real name because I’m subtle that way.

Now, being a biologist by training, I understand about hydration and electrolyte replacement and natremia and borborygmus and defenestration. (Okay, so those last two aren’t, strictly speaking, related to drinking, but the next to last one is certainly related to many cyclists I have known and the last one would be a form of exercise.)

What was I talking about?

Oh, yeah.

Being a biologist by training, I understand about hydration and electrolyte replacement, but most sports drinks are just too thick and too sweet for my taste. I’d rather take an electrolyte replacement capsule and just drink water. I took my first sip of CrocodileAde, and it just sort of coated my mouth with sticky sweetness. This was not what I wanted while trying to ride in 90 degree plus temperatures. Gradually, without realizing it, I began to drink less and less.
By the time we got back onto home roads, I was dehydrated and fried.

We hit a road that I had ridden scores of times, and I figured I could do the ten or twelve miles home on that road under any conditions. After all, I had ridden that road in the wind, in the rain, in the group, after having been dropped…this was my territory, and I was comfortable. I was also wrong.

I was, however, not capable of doing more than about twelve miles and hour. We had a pick-up truck with us, and I could certainly have allowed them to pick me up, but I didn’t. I got some water from them and dropped some ice down my back, but the water was too little and too late. I tried to get the other riders to go on because I was afraid I was spoiling their ride, but they wouldn’t leave me.

So why didn’t I get in the truck? Well, it starts with st…

Stupidity? Stubbornness? Stupendousness?

Something like that, anyway.

Well, we slogged back home.


In fact, I think we gradually slowed down.

Well, I gradually slowed down out of necessity and they gradually slowed down so as to not leave me.

About two miles from the parking lot they left me. Finally. They wanted to sprint for home. I just wanted to crawl slowly. In fact, I think I was limping and crawling while riding my bike. I am a multi-tasker.

The driver of the truck decided to autopace me. This let me get my pace up to about twelve miles and hour, I think. I had never autopaced before. It might have been fun if I hadn’t been parboiled. I kept wanting to go faster, but all the driver had to do in order to speed up was press down on the accelerator, while I had to press on the pedals, and I just couldn’t press anymore. My path down the street was so wobbly that any passing police officer would have stopped me for a chat.

I finally dragged my sorry self back to the parking lot and pulled into the shade and stayed there.

Of course, I didn’t have my car and I lived three miles away from the parking lot…

No, I had my cell phone. I could call for pickup, and I did.


A few days later, with a camelback strapped on, I went for a sixty-five mile solo ride just to prove to myself that my problems had been due to poor hydration and not to just being me.

That was good.

Drink drink drink. Water, that is. That’s the thing.

See you on the road.


  1. Bummer! I'm glad you were OK. That dehydration kinda sneaks up on you and never lets go. Aweful stuff.

    I am with you on the sports drink being too sweet and thick. If I drink it, I water it down half and half. Even then, I end up wanting just water part way through a ride.

  2. I don't know how people drink the stuff, especially when they aren't exercising. I'll take a some endurox or something after a ride just to replace some lost electrolytes, but on a ride? No thanks. It's nice to know it's not just me :-)