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Old 06-11-09, 11:00 AM   #1
smoore
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What Caused My Dizziness and Poor Ride?

Well I had a new experience happen yesterday and wonder what might have caused it?

I'll be sixty in two weeks but am in pretty good shape. I'm 5'5" and weigh 131 lbs but have high cholesterol. Can't take statins but do take 2000mg of niacin daily. (That's another story) I've been riding off and on for over twenty years and have been riding about three times a week since January. My training rides are typically twenty-five miles and occasionally thirty. Three weeks ago I did a 51 mile charity ride and finished it well and felt good when it was over.

Yesterday as part of Bike Ride Across GA (BRAG) I rode 59 miles. The course was moderately hilly, and the temp was 77 when I started and 86 when I finished. Humidity was 60%. I averaged 15MPH.

I ate and drank at all three of the SAG stops (PowerAde and water) and drank lots of water while riding. At no time did I feel dehydrated nor did I feel like needed food. However...I bonked big time in the last ten miles and the last couple of hills just about finished me. It was all I could do to put my bike rack on the car and get loaded and I was very dizzy for the hour car ride back home. Thinking I needed protein, I stopped at a Wendy's but that didn't seem to help at all. Once home, I collapsed for about the next five hours and remained somewhat dizzy for the first two hours. My quads hurt big time and I was just totally exhausted.

Granted the temps and humidy were quite a bit lower on the 51 mile ride a few weeks ago, but with the amount of riding I've been doing (although not real long rides) this has me a bit mystified and bummed out.

Any thoughts? Thanks.
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Old 06-11-09, 11:21 AM   #2
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Lack of fitness - 3 times a week was not enough. You are not used to the hills and probably pushed too hard. This is a tough sport and I seem to recall that ride is tough. It does not take much to use up your stores of muscle glycogen. The theory that eating as your ride is a good one IF you have the fitness to digest and use the food you are consuming as you ride. One of the things that training over years thousands of miles per year provides is the body's ability to channel resources (digestion, blood flow, lactate burned as fuel and etc.) as your body needs it to support powering a bicycle. This adaptation takes a long time and we are all individuals. Rome was not built in a day.
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Old 06-11-09, 11:26 AM   #3
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Lack of fitness - 3 times a week was not enough. You are not used to the hills and probably pushed too hard. This is a tough sport and I seem to recall that ride is tough. It does not take much to use up your stores of muscle glycogen. The theory that eating as your ride is a good one IF you have the fitness to digest and use the food you are consuming as you ride. One of the things that training over years thousands of miles per year provides is the body's ability to channel resources (digestion, blood flow, lactate burned as fuel and etc.) as your body needs it to support powering a bicycle. This adaptation takes a long time and we are all individuals. Rome was not built in a day.
I wasn't in Rome...I was in Athens. Athens, GA.
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Old 06-11-09, 11:40 AM   #4
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It could have been several things all exercise related.

First off it could have been heat exhaustion. That is a form a dehydration. Riding a bike in hot weather and not drinking enough will produce these symptoms. And no, you do not have to feel thirsty. In facts, since most people can sweat much faster than they can take fluids up from their gut, one can get this even when drinking quite a bit.

Secondly, it could have been an electrolyte problem. I get hyonatriumia on long hard rides in the summer if I do not eat salt (NaCl). Sodium is the major cation in our blood and plasma. Most electrolyte drinks do not have significant sodium because doing so would make the drink unacceptably salty. But very few people get this one. It takes a bunch of sweating and water intake. The water dilutes the blood and produces a sodium imbalance. It can be fatal.

Or thirdly, it could be glycogen depletion. When we ride, the body burns carbohydrate or fat and usually a combination. The body has limited stores of glycogen (carbohydrate). So it can be depleted producing feelings of weakness. Most people's bodies have enough fat to motor them nearly across the continent so that store is essentially unlimited. Remember, I said "most" there is always someone out there who does not fit. If you have really low fat stores, your body will burn things like protein (muscle) in order to keep moving. But that is very rare. But people do extreme things to their bodies so it is possible.
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Old 06-11-09, 12:12 PM   #5
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I am betting on dehydration possibly combined with glycogen depletion.
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Old 06-11-09, 12:31 PM   #6
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Heat, hills, low hydration and high humidity are enough to tax your system on a long ride. I would guess that you pushed a little too hard for your level of fitness and you probably needed even more fluids and fuel. I got cooked pretty well on the 67 mile ride into Athens from Mt. Airy the day before your ride on BRAG. We have not had many hot days to prepare us for these kinds of days.
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Old 06-12-09, 07:12 AM   #7
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Any slow-release carbohydrate before you started? Oatmeal or non-sugar cereal? (as a long term diabetic, I have to be aware that the absorbtion of fast release energy stuff like Poweraid won't make up for a lack of the slow release stuff at the outset - might just cause an insulin spike to compound the problem). I don't think that Protein would help much in the circumstances you describe.

Glad you made it back ok
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Old 06-12-09, 07:51 AM   #8
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Well . Yesterday as part of Bike Ride Across GA (BRAG) I rode 59 miles. The course was moderately hilly, and the temp was 77 when I started and 86 when I finished. Humidity was 60%. I averaged 15MPH.

I ate and drank at all three of the SAG stops (PowerAde and water) and drank lots of water while riding. At no time did I feel dehydrated nor did I feel like needed food. However...I bonked big time in the last ten miles and the last couple of hills just about finished me. It was all I could do to put my bike rack on the car and get loaded and I was very dizzy for the hour car ride back home. Thinking I needed protein, I stopped at a Wendy's but that didn't seem to help at all. Once home, I collapsed for about the next five hours and remained somewhat dizzy for the first two hours. My quads hurt big time and I was just totally exhausted.
Thanks.
You have symptoms of either/or or a combination of: (1) bonking (insufficient glycogen replacement), (2)dehydration and (3) overheating/insufficient cooling which can be related to (2) and even (1). Eating meat was the absolute incorrect approach and would have exacerbated the issues. Protein plays no role here except being canabalized from the muscles and converted to glucose to feed the brain if in fact bonking was the cause. That protein conversion helps to make one feel really sore I understand.

Suggest you learn how to eat and hydrate (which includes adequate sodium replacement) properly and also deal with high temps/humidity given the time of year. You'll find an excellent tutorial in Ryan's Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 2nd edition. The first chapter deals with hydration and starting on p237 is an excellent section dealing with training/racing in the heat.

If you are relying on thirst and hunger symptoms to determine feeding and drinking, you're going to hurt yourself.

There is one point missing from Ryan's book is a cool-down period. I ran into this a few years ago after some rally hard single-track rides in 90+ deg. temps and humidity levels probably in the 60's. I would get a little dizzy maybe 20 minutes after the ride which would last maybe a half hour. I found an article dealing with that and it recommended a slow cool-down ride after the hard stuff. I tried it and it works. So after a "hot" ride, I'll spin for a mile or so and circulate the blood to get the heat out of the body more quickly.

Al
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Old 06-12-09, 09:50 AM   #9
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I concur, it sounds like a heat/dehydration problem. If the humidity is too high you will not be able to cool off as the perspiration will not evaporate, so you tend to get dizzy and run out of energy. At your age your exchange of heat is not as good as it was when you were younger.

I could also be because of a slight cold or allergy, so if you feel sick now and you are stuffed up that would indicate that, but a cold could mess up your system enough to cause you to dehydrate, so you can't rule one out over the other.

Make sure you SIP water before you decide to go on another longish, hot ride, and then sip a recovery drink, preferable watered down, after your rides. Don't gulp as it will just be urinated out, so sip so your body has a chance to absorb it.

Over time you should get used to the heat and humidity, but if not, don't worry about it and take the day off.
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Old 06-12-09, 10:36 AM   #10
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This happened to me a few years back on a century. I was very fit and well trainined for the ride but began to bonk big time. I drank a lot of water, ate well along the way. What I attribute it to was lack of electrolites. Ever since that ride I have been using NUUN tablets. Long rides I carry two bottles, one with NUUN and the other with a weak Gatoraide mixture. I am a real fan of the NUUN - no more muscle cramps, it seems to help my body use the calories from the energy bars and gatoraide better and I don't get light headed, not to mention my recovery times are shorter. Does fitness play a part - of course it does. However dehydration trumps fitness every time and you can get deydrated even though you are drinking water.

Hope you find what works for you.
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Old 06-12-09, 10:54 AM   #11
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I am betting on dehydration possibly combined with glycogen depletion.
Agree. Protein isn't an energy source, it'll just help prevent being sore the next day. It's true most people have plenty of energy stores in the form of fat, but that energy is not quickly accessible; converting fat to glycogen is a slow process, probably slower than your expenditures.
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Old 06-12-09, 09:26 PM   #12
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Probably one of the causes already mentioned, but just as a minor warning: I had similar symptoms in my 40s, when I was only a casual cyclist but a pretty serious, 75-mile a week runner. After a lot of denial, self-diagnosis and general screwing around, I finally had an ECG and learned i was in atrial fibrillation. Most people can be reversed to sinus (normal) rhythm, but I never did--I've been in fib for 20 years. It's a relatively minor inconvenience, easily controlled. but there are some risks if you ignore it. At our age, it's always a good idea to get stuff like that checked out.
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Old 06-13-09, 05:41 AM   #13
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.I finally had an ECG and learned i was in atrial fibrillation. Most people can be reversed to sinus (normal) rhythm, but I never did--I've been in fib for 20 years. It's a relatively minor inconvenience, easily controlled. but there are some risks if you ignore it. At our age, it's always a good idea to get stuff like that checked out.
That raises another issue. It could also be an indicator of a serious cardiovascular problem. I've just read a section in a book about athlete sudden death syndrome. The biggest cause is ignoring warning signs. Possibly a visit to the doctor is in order.

Al
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Old 06-13-09, 08:17 AM   #14
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At our ages, we aren't in a position to bet on anything... unless you want to bet your life. The instructions from my doctor are to stop if I get dizzy or short of breath. What you're describing sounds like it might have been just dehydration, maybe low blood sugar. Maybe low blood pressure due to having lost a lot of sodium.

Eating a high protein meal on the way home would do absolutely nothing, and it might even contribute to making you feel dizzy. First of all, even if you did need protein, it takes something like 6 hours to digest something like that, and so you would get no immediate or short term benefit whatsoever. Secondly, a lot of blood gets diverted to the digestion process itself, and protein such as in meat is hard to digest at the best of times. This alone might add to the dizziness you already had.

If it was me, I would mention that to my doctor, and chances are, I would end up being scheduled for an EKG at minimum, perhaps an echocardiogram, and maybe even a stress test.

I've dealt with health issues that affect cycling all my life, starting with severe respiratory allergies, then asthma, and then chronic renal failure. I still cycle, and I always have, but I'm forced to pay attention to any unusual signs. I think anyone over 50 would be wise to do the same. We may think we are healthy and young because we cycle, but exercise only guarantees fitness, not health. Fitness and health are two different things.
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Old 06-13-09, 09:45 AM   #15
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I feel a bit dizzy after a long ride sometimes. My blood pressure at that point is ridiculously low, like 98 over 66, and stays low for 2 or 3 hours. I don't know if it is because of the BP meds I take (Sular and BenicarHCT) or something else. I try to stay hydrated and snack on a granola bar or fruit. Ideas?
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Old 06-13-09, 02:10 PM   #16
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I feel a bit dizzy after a long ride sometimes. My blood pressure at that point is ridiculously low, like 98 over 66, and stays low for 2 or 3 hours. I don't know if it is because of the BP meds I take (Sular and BenicarHCT) or something else. I try to stay hydrated and snack on a granola bar or fruit. Ideas?
Mine drops to around 105/60 hours after riding. Normal for me is 110-120/70-75. Some times after a very hard ride it'll go lower and I feel a tinge of dizziness as well. One of my physiology books (Exercise Physiology; Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance) states that it's normal and can last 12 hours or so.

Al
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Old 06-13-09, 04:55 PM   #17
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Thanks guys, appreciate your collective thoughts and will make a few adjustments the next time I ride over 50 miles and/or go for a ride on a hot, humid day....which is almost always in GA. I have to go in to have my cholesterol checked in a month....I'll probably mention this situation at that time.
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Old 06-14-09, 02:00 PM   #18
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Luckily, by eating and drinking the right things before, during and after a hard ride on a hot day, you can avoid these problems without understanding all the science behind it. Just as I can blow the hell out of a harmonica without a clue as to what notes I'm playing. You just need to do the right things, you don't have to understand them.
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Old 06-14-09, 05:23 PM   #19
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....... Just as I can blow the hell out of a harmonica without a clue as to what notes I'm playing. You just need to do the right things, you don't have to understand them.
LOL. Hey Blues Dawg...do you know the difference between a blues harmonica player and a large pizza?

A large pizza can feed a family of four.

I'm a jazz drummer....the same applies.

Steve
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Old 06-15-09, 01:47 PM   #20
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Uh, if I were you I wouldn't wait a month. Better safe then sorry.
A runner friend your age, never smoked watches his diet, very thin, didn't feel quite right.
Ended up with a double bypass.
Another one pretty much same MO, collapsed during a race and had to be resuscitated. A few bypasses and implants later.....he is still alive and running again.

PS, driving when you feel dizzy is not a great idea.
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