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  1. #1
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    12-mile ride + 3 gallons of water kills DC Cop

    District Officer Dies After Bike Ride
    Over-Hydration Cited as Factor

    By Del Quentin Wilber and David Brown
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, August 11, 2005; Page B01

    A highly honored 25-year-old D.C. police officer died yesterday after he apparently drank too much water Tuesday while training to use a bicycle on patrol, police officials said.

    Doctors believe that hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance caused by drinking excessive amounts of fluid, most likely caused or contributed to the death of Officer James C. McBride, police officials said. McBride consumed as much as three gallons of water during and after the 12-mile training ride Tuesday morning, police said.

    The doctors "did mention that he had consumed an awful lot of water," said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, adding that authorities are awaiting autopsy results. "They are saying that is a possibility it might have contributed. . . . This is something that is really unusual. We are usually concerned about dehydration as opposed to people consuming too much water."

    Hyponatremia, an abnormally low salt concentration in the blood, occurs when a person loses a large amount of sodium or consumes a large amount of water. Hyponatremia in athletes is almost always caused by drinking too much water.

    As the blood becomes increasingly diluted, water moves out of the bloodstream and into cells, which swell. The swelling of the brain is responsible for the symptoms of severe hyponatremia -- nausea, confusion, seizures and coma. If pressure inside the skull increases enough, the base of the brain is squeezed downward through where connects it to the spinal cord, causing death.

    McBride, who joined the force two years ago, was named the 1st Police District's rookie of the year. Colleagues said he pushed supervisors to allow him to attend the weeklong bicycle training course so he could better patrol his beat, Sursum Corda -- a notoriously violent public housing complex off North Capitol Street.

    "This guy is really out here hustling to make a difference," D.C. Police Inspector Andrew Solberg said. "I read the arrest reports, and it seemed like his name was on them all the time. He just seemed to be a central component in everything that was going on."

    Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) issued a statement saying McBride was an officer who "loved his city and who served it well." Police said McBride lived in Maryland.

    McBride and 15 other officers started the course Monday at the department's academy complex in Southwest Washington. The next morning, the officers did a 12-mile training ride that included hills, police said.

    About 2 p.m. Tuesday, McBride attended a training session that focused on how to dismount a bike. An instructor noticed that McBride looked ill and asked him to sit down. McBride complained of dizziness and nausea, police said. He then vomited, they said. Officers initially thought he might have suffered heat stroke.

    Sgt. Timothy Evans, who ran the bike course, said he was not aware that McBride had drunk so much liquid and gave him some water to cool him down.

    "I thought it was heat exhaustion," said Evans, who worked with McBride in the 1st District. "It never dawned on me that it might have been over-hydration."

    At some point, McBride told an instructor that he had consumed perhaps as much as three gallons of water contained in a backpack he was carrying. Bicyclists often drink water through a tube connected to a bladder contained in such packs.

    Officers said that McBride seemed to be recovering as he sat out the exercise. When another officer hurt his knee, police summoned an ambulance. The paramedics noticed that McBride was convulsing and continuing to vomit. They took him to Washington Hospital Center, where he died about 1:30 p.m. yesterday.

    Many experts believe hyponatremia has become more common in recent years. More people are engaging in endurance events, such as marathons, that last many hours and during which participants are urged to drink water.

    The blood concentration of sodium is normally about 145, measured in millimoles per liter. A study published in April in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in a random sample of 488 Boston Marathon runners, 22 percent of women and 8 percent of men had sodium levels below 135, the formal definition of hyponatremia. One participant, a 28-year-old woman, died of the condition.

    In the Marine Corps Marathon last year in Virginia, four runners were treated for hyponatremia, and two were admitted to hospital intensive care units. A 35-year-old woman died of the condition in the 2002 race.

    Some experts, however, caution against overreacting.

    "We don't want to alarm people into drinking too little, because dehydration can cause problems as well," said Christopher Almond, a cardiologist at Children's Hospital in Boston who headed the Boston Marathon study.

  2. #2
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Weird coincidence for me in that the first time I heard of hyponatremia was in 2002 after the Marine Corps Marathon. A woman went into a coma and died shortly after the race. She apparently drank at every mile marker and only water, not the accelerade.

    Sheesh! 3 gallons?!? Isn't that like 18 pounds?
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  3. #3
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Dude.. 12 miles?!
    Even in 90 degree weather, I only drink about 24 ounces of water if I'm riding hard. If not, maybe half a bottle.

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    OK people you're creeping me out ..... see a couple'a weeks ago I rode all over heck and gone going to the Hellyer velodrome on my SS, by my usual takes-hours-because-I'm-lost route, and then rode back on Capitol Expressway, yep past all the car dealers etc., no other cyclists out there, it was friggin' HOT. And before starting out, I grabbed a bottle of water at the local Starbuckies, and drank some each time I stopped to look at my map (I looked at my map a lot).

    Well, this is weird but near the end of the ride I had a weird feeling of my head swelling. It was strange. Funny thing, the water for some reason was "0 sodium". I probably did about 30 miles, and I never got to any stage of nausea etc., but something didn't seem quite right. It was a large bicycle bottle's worth, and I used a bit to wash my face sparingly at Hellyer Park, so I was not drinking tons of the stuff, but wow, maybe those nice salty pretzels biker G. Bush swears at, er, by, are a good idea.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    The army said 6 quarts a day, 12 maximum, depending on the intensity of your activity. Apparently a quart per mile on a bicycle is a bit too much.

  6. #6
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    <"Many experts believe hyponatremia has become more common in recent years. More people are engaging in endurance events, such as marathons, that last many hours and during which participants are urged to drink water."

    Probably more common because we havn't figured out you DON'T DRINK ******** AMMOUNTS OF WATER!
    No offense to the off. but if the guy really had that much water on him that's ridiculous. It was probably 3 litres anyway, either way 3 litres over 12 miles! Thats like a liter every 4 miles.

    Ironically there are a few studies out showing that the risk in hyponatremia is higher than the risks in dehydration. Hard to die of dehydration in a few hours.
    This case isn't just sad, it's wierd. No-one should be able to drink that much water that fast without something going on. I'd put down money the guy's blood sugar was huge and he was polydipsic secondary to undiagnosed diabetes. Either that or someone put ex in his power bar.
    Jeez.
    Dodge bullets and you drown on a bike. sheesh.

  7. #7
    Almost Middle-Aged Member TXChick's Avatar
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    I never heard of this until a few years ago. There was an episode of ER about it. Who knew? Anyway, would that death possibly have been avoided if he was drinking gatorade or something similar? Just curious.

  8. #8
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    Maybe, Gatorade has a bunch of other stuff in it. Either way I'm not gonna try.

    But damn, 3 gallons of water??? The most I have drinken in a day is 2gal and that was because I was outside doing hard physical activity for 8hr+ in 90+ weather.

  9. #9
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Three gallons in a backpack? What kind of backpack did this guy have? The large camelback carries 3 liters not 3 gallons. I think somebody is confused. Assuming the ride took a hour, I doubt you could down 3 gallons of anything.

  10. #10
    Recovering Retro-grouch CRUM's Avatar
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    Back in the 80's I was diagnosed with the same problem. I became very ill. I found out the hard way, it is possible to drink too much water.
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  11. #11
    My Alphabit's say "Oooo" InfamousG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso
    Sheesh! 3 gallons?!? Isn't that like 18 pounds?
    25.02 lbs (to be a little more precise)

  12. #12
    Giant-Riding Ogre Don Gwinn's Avatar
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    It's entirely possible it was three liters, but then hyponatremia should be suprising, shouldn't it? Three liters is a LOT of water, but not that much. I notice we don't know what he'd been doing the rest of the day, either. I used to lose 8-10 pounds over the course of a day of three-a-day practices, and I figured that was all water.


    News reports are almost invariably wrong on any number of details. People only notice when the news touches on something in which they themselves are at least competent. The catch is that most people, when they see an outrageously inaccurate story outside their area of expertise the next day, will revert right back to swallowing anything that makes it into print.
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  13. #13
    My Alphabit's say "Oooo" InfamousG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Gwinn
    It's entirely possible it was three liters, but then hyponatremia should be suprising, shouldn't it? Three liters is a LOT of water, but not that much.
    3 liters = 0.792516154 US gallons

    You won't be dealthy ill from low salt from less than 1 gallon of water unless you started the day with a VERY low salt content.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    Dude.. 12 miles?!
    Even in 90 degree weather, I only drink about 24 ounces of water if I'm riding hard. If not, maybe half a bottle.
    I hear that. I thought I was the only camel out there. That is a pretty scary condition though. I get a "stitch" if I consume too many liquids when I am riding.

  15. #15
    Bent_Rider
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    I suffered a mild case of this condition when cycling in the mojave desert in 98 deg heat one year, had no idea. Now that I know about it, I always eat pretzels, use electrolyte pills, eat salty foods. Now I never suffer from this, even if I drink 6 liters of water, but I never drink 3 gallons.

    Quote Originally Posted by lilHinault
    OK people you're creeping me out ..... see a couple'a weeks ago I rode all over heck and gone going to the Hellyer velodrome on my SS, by my usual takes-hours-because-I'm-lost route, and then rode back on Capitol Expressway, yep past all the car dealers etc., no other cyclists out there, it was friggin' HOT. And before starting out, I grabbed a bottle of water at the local Starbuckies, and drank some each time I stopped to look at my map (I looked at my map a lot).

    Well, this is weird but near the end of the ride I had a weird feeling of my head swelling. It was strange. Funny thing, the water for some reason was "0 sodium". I probably did about 30 miles, and I never got to any stage of nausea etc., but something didn't seem quite right. It was a large bicycle bottle's worth, and I used a bit to wash my face sparingly at Hellyer Park, so I was not drinking tons of the stuff, but wow, maybe those nice salty pretzels biker G. Bush swears at, er, by, are a good idea.

  16. #16
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    i'm not doubting the three gallons from a medical standpoint just that i don't know of any camelbacks that carry that much. Most of the big ones are 3 litres so i was guessing.

    And three litres shouldn't be enough to kill you but it's still impressive. (Ever try to drink 3 litres of water fast?) Point is most of us start gagging if we drink that fast (it's a protective mechanism.) That's why i wonder if something was wrong that made the guy unnaturally thirsty or maybe if his serum sodium was really low to start with.

  17. #17
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilHinault
    OK people you're creeping me out ..... see a couple'a weeks ago I rode all over heck and gone going to the Hellyer velodrome on my SS, by my usual takes-hours-because-I'm-lost route, and then rode back on Capitol Expressway, yep past all the car dealers etc., no other cyclists out there, it was friggin' HOT. And before starting out, I grabbed a bottle of water at the local Starbuckies, and drank some each time I stopped to look at my map (I looked at my map a lot).

    Well, this is weird but near the end of the ride I had a weird feeling of my head swelling. It was strange. Funny thing, the water for some reason was "0 sodium". I probably did about 30 miles, and I never got to any stage of nausea etc., but something didn't seem quite right. It was a large bicycle bottle's worth, and I used a bit to wash my face sparingly at Hellyer Park, so I was not drinking tons of the stuff, but wow, maybe those nice salty pretzels biker G. Bush swears at, er, by, are a good idea.
    I think you were just dehydrated. What size was the bottle? The 'standard' size bottle of water,the kind you get from vending machines and fits in a regular cage,is .5 liter. Half a liter for 30mi in heat is not enough,especially if some of it was used for something other than drinking. Also,I'm pretty sure all bottled water is 0 sodium(except maybe special fitness stuff).

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    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biodiesel
    i'm not doubting the three gallons from a medical standpoint just that i don't know of any camelbacks that carry that much. Most of the big ones are 3 litres so i was guessing.
    They said on the news this morning that he drank the 3 gal during and after training. He prolly drank some while riding,then put a whole bunch down afterward,and then drank a bunch more before the afternoon training.

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    dynaryder I'm sure I was a bit dehydrated, because that wasn't that much water, and it was friggin' hot.

  20. #20
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    It's called water intoxication, and the resulting electrolyte imbalances due to the sudden water load can have obvious negative effects, as above. Your kidneys can only do so much, so quickly.

    Water, in reasonable amounts, of course, is fine for all but very prolonged exercise. You have plenty of stored sodium and potassium, etc, and it takes a while to significantly deplete them from sweating. Eating is good enough, usually.

    High-priced sports drinks are mainly a marketing gimmick, and a very successful one.

    Personally, i use water, and sometimes water with some OJ in it.

  21. #21
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Mention was made of the military requirement for water. Here it is:

    At 32C (90F), for hard work, the daily requirement is about 10 l (2.6 gal).

    I'm thinking the report is not correct, or something was wrong with the officer before the ride.

    A sad story.
    Last edited by eubi; 08-11-05 at 12:40 PM.

  22. #22
    My Alphabit's say "Oooo" InfamousG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eubi
    I'm thinking the report is not correct, or something was wrong with the officer before the ride.
    A sad story.
    The problem wasn't entirely with the fact of how much water he drank, the problem is that he didn't replace his bodies salts after sweating and (likely frequent) urination. Having a lot of water won't kill you as long as you aren't flushing out other necessities in the meantime.

  23. #23
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holicow
    Water, in reasonable amounts, of course, is fine for all but very prolonged exercise. You have plenty of stored sodium and potassium, etc, and it takes a while to significantly deplete them from sweating. Eating is good enough, usually.

    High-priced sports drinks are mainly a marketing gimmick, and a very successful one.

    Personally, i use water, and sometimes water with some OJ in it.
    I routinely drink a full 1 liter bottle of tap water for each half of my 24 mile R/T commute. I add a little lime or lemon concentrate for taste purposes when refilling the bottle. On 95F and above temps I put away almost two bottles (3 liters) in the hour. In between, during the work day, I drink 2 or three more 1 liter bottles, plus a pot of coffee.

    When I get home its time for a couple beers and either more water or sometimes soda pop with my supper. I never add salt to anything or any vitamin/mineral supplements. No problems at all so far. Sleep like a baby through the night too.

  24. #24
    King of the Forest Totoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biodiesel
    i'm not doubting the three gallons from a medical standpoint just that i don't know of any camelbacks that carry that much. Most of the big ones are 3 litres so i was guessing.
    You obviously haven't seen the new model.

  25. #25
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    The three gallon figure came from the deceased while he was suffering from dizziness, nausea and convulsions. Therefore it should be taken with a grain of salt (no pun intended). As another poster pointed out, 3 gallons is like 18 pounds of water. No way was he carrying that in a backpack. 3 liters is more likely. That's still a lot of water, but is it enough to kill you? I've drained a 100-oz. Camelback within 60 miles on a hot day. Is it possible the guy just got a case of heatstroke, and the 3-gallon thing is causing inaccurate reporting of the story?

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