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  1. #1
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    introduction/questions

    Iíve been lurking around this forum for a few months now. I havenít had much to say, because Iím fairly new. Iíve found myself really attracted to this particular sub-forum. Many of you people have become my heroes, literally.

    Iím going to start this with a short bio, so you can get a feel for me before I ask my questions. Iím seeking specific and general advice, so please post any thoughts you have. I apologize in advance, for the stream-of-consciousness jumble this is going to be and thank you for reading it.

    Iím a 34-year-old male who lives in central Florida. About 6 months ago, my 14YO son asked me to play some basketball with him. About 10 minutes into it, I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack. My chest hurt/tingled, I couldnít catch my breath and I felt lightheaded. ďWow,Ē I thought to myself ďIíve really gotten out of shape.Ē 2 weeks later I had a physical & my cholesterol was 230. The Dr. suggested that I try dropping some weight (5í9Ē/206lbs) and changing my diet before putting me on meds. Those two things galvanized me to change my lifestyle.

    My son and I started lifting weights 3 nights a week & I started doing ďcardioĒ 3 more nights. At first this was mainly walking/running, but it changed into bike riding. I was the typical new rider, I thought a Ĺ hour, 8-mile ride was ďlongĒ. I thought I was going to have to walk it home on my first 20-mile ride. At one point, I thought of riding to one of my sonís tournaments 25 miles away & thought, ďthatís way too farĒ.

    I started to really enjoy riding & logging my miles in 2 months ago. Since that point, Iíve ridden 588 total miles, excluding exercise bike miles at hotels. Iíd like it to be a bit higher, but I spent 15 of the days in different cities, without access to a bike. All of my rides are solo. Iím down past my original goal weight of 175, and now think that 160 is where I need to be.

    Being a very goal driven person, I have set a short-term goal, and a long term (within a couple of years) cycling goal. They are to ride a sub 6-hour century before the year is over and to ride a double century. I know it was likely a bit stupid to set a time goal up front like that, but for now Iím sticking with it.

    Iíve been focusing on adding distance first, since I seem to enjoy ďfurtherĒ more than ďfasterĒ. With some shorter rides during the week, Iíve been trying to build my single trip distance up. On 7/6 I rode 48 miles without much problem, then on 7/21 I rode 59 miles with the final 6 being a bit difficult. On 7/28 I rode 71 miles with the last 3 being quite difficult. Yesterday, I rode 79 miles & wasnít sure I was going to make it over the last 10.

    I didnít have much of a nutrition plan until after my 59-mile ride, and I didnít think too much about electrolyte replacement until after my 71-mile ride. I consumed a lot more calories ~200/hr and got a much better mix of proteins, carbs and electrolytes during my 79-mile ride. My biggest logistics problem is carrying all the water I need. Iím going through about 40 fl oz/hour, so over 6+ hours, that works out to a lot of water. I hate to add saddelbags just for water, (especially since I donít own any), but Iíve run out of room in my trunk bag.

    I think that my being exhausted at the end might be due to heat rather than just being out of shape. I was getting ďchillsĒ and stopped for a rest in some shade (most of my route is in the beating down sunÖ by the time noon rolls through, Iím a bit sunburnt, the roads seem to be putting out some major heat and the temp has climbed from a reasonable 80 at 7am to 90+). I dumped some cool water ~75F over my head & it actually hurt my skin, it felt so cold. When I got into my house (~79F), it felt like I was in an icebox & it took me a 10 minutes to stop panting. I floated in the pool for a bit to try to pull some heat out of my body & took a cold shower. Even still, it was about 2 hours before I stopped sweating, just sitting still under a ceiling fan.

    Iím re-thinking my strategy of adding miles before speed. Iím thinking of riding for a maximum of 4 hours on Saturday, and trying to get the furthest possible. That will put me in about 11, before it gets real hot. I would stick with this plan until the daily highs drop out of the mid-90s into the comfortable high 80ís, which should happen around mid-Oct. Iíll also be a bit less concerned with expending more calories than I consume at that point. Then once the temp drops down, start going for distance again.

    As far as speed, on these long rides I ride at what I think is a 15mph pace. 79-mile ride took me 6 hrs 15 minutes. But about 1 hour was off bike, eating and cooling down. Most of that was concentrated in the last 15 miles, once I started to feel really hot. I donít have a bike computer, so I typically just note the time at the start & finish.

    Iím debating between asking for a bike computer, a HRM, or a Brooks saddle for Christmas. Money is a bit tight, so itíll be question of which will be most useful (your thoughts?). Iím fairly comfortable on my bike other than my butt on the cheap gel saddle after about 1 hour.. I used to get numb hands also, but that seemed to go away just as I started ratcheting up my distance. These last two long rides, although I didnít experience any hand tingle during the ride, my left index finger tip has been numb for 24-48 hours after the ride.

    I happen to live in a part of central Florida with a bit of hill (not much, but more than most of FL). I can do a 15-mile loop that has 1100 feet of total climb, in a very up/down fashion. Iím thinking for riding this hard once a week as ďintervalĒ type training. Then one or two ~20 mile rides at more of my fat burning paceÖ something where carrying on a conversation would be difficult, but Iím not left feeling short of breath. I know this probably isnít the best use of a ride, but I also want to make sure I still enjoy myself. Then as I said earlier, trying to ratchet up distance on the weekend while limiting myself to approx 4 hours.

    Does this seem a reasonable plan? What do you think should change? Iím still in process of learning about fluid loss, what my body will respond best to eating wise, etc. Iím not looking to be a ďracerĒ type, beyond trying to reach my personal goals. Of which, the major one is still to live healthier, which means I want to make sure riding does not become a chore.

    Thank you for your time and any thoughts you might have.

  2. #2
    SeŮor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    I like your story - very inspirational. I think a good saddle needs to come along before the other stuff. Keep your eye on Nashbar though. They sometimes have sales on low end cyclometers. I got three of them (I have a bunch of older bikes) for $9.99 apiece about 18 months ago.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  3. #3
    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Yes good story Like2. I'm in a similar position, only maybe 6 months ahead of you. Scared by doctors and sick friends and family.

    Just a few things that jumped out at me:

    Water and nutrition wise, you're gonna need steady fluid AND steady food for a century in the heat. There are lots of posts about what foods and such that you can search out. A common recommendation is to eat at the first hour and every half hour after that. Getting a jersey and loading up the back pockets with fig newtons, 2 or 3 bananas, some hammer gels and whatever else makes it easy to eat on the fly.

    Why not arrange your ride so every 20 miles you're at a mini mart, buying water and sports drinks?

    A very early start can help you stay ahead of the heat. Nothing wrong with putting on a blinkie taillight, an inexpensive headlight (or even rigging a flashlight, lots of people do it) so you can be seen in the dark, and start off an hour before sunrise.

    Garage sales and thrist stores are a great friend to the frugal cyclist.

    Good luck! You can get to that century soon I'm sure.

    p.s.: Dick's sporting goods carries a cyclocomputer with cadence function (very important I feel for beginner, it really changed the way I rode) by Sigma for $30.
    Last edited by Spreggy; 08-06-07 at 10:59 AM.
    ďImpossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.Ē
    ― Muhammad Ali

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by like2read View Post
    My biggest logistics problem is carrying all the water I need. I’m going through about 40 fl oz/hour, so over 6+ hours, that works out to a lot of water. I hate to add saddelbags just for water, (especially since I don’t own any), but I’ve run out of room in my trunk bag.
    as spreggy pointed out ... you should plan on buying water as you need it on your route. Personally, I have three water bottles on my bike -- one for sports drink/sustained energy, one for pure water, one for reserve. I finish the primary water bottle after roughly 30 miles, and always aim to refill it every 25 miles or so. The reserve is for when I miscalculate and find myself going 40 or 50 miles between available services.

    I’m re-thinking my strategy of adding miles before speed. I’m thinking of riding for a maximum of 4 hours on Saturday, and trying to get the furthest possible. That will put me in about 11, before it gets real hot. I would stick with this plan until the daily highs drop out of the mid-90s into the comfortable high 80’s, which should happen around mid-Oct. I’ll also be a bit less concerned with expending more calories than I consume at that point. Then once the temp drops down, start going for distance again.
    this sounds like a sensible plan, given your goals. No sense in tempting heat stroke by going too hard in summer temperatures. You shouldn't lose much of any endurance with those 4 hour rides, either.

    I’m debating between asking for a bike computer, a HRM, or a Brooks saddle for Christmas. Money is a bit tight, so it’ll be question of which will be most useful (your thoughts?).
    the order that I would go with is computer > HRM > Brooks. I don't think a better saddle will improve your hand numbness issues, and you might be better served with either raising your bars or getting a pair of handlebars with flattened tops to make it easier to move around on the hoods.

    on the other hand, riding and training without a computer is like driving a car without a dashboard. sure you can do it, but you're doing it with only the vaguest ideas of how well it's being done.

  5. #5
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    Congratulations!. As far as what to get next- my vote would be1- Brooks saddle- the more you ride the more you will need it.
    A heart rate monitor is really only usefull (in my opinion for those who beleive they are training competitively.
    For bike computer get the cheapest one you can get. Most of these electronic gadgets (HRM included) is that they can be programmed to give you all sorts of information- most of which is not needed and might not be useful.
    I have 3 brooks saddles, one on each bike, I have an old cateye that was a gift years ago and now only records total mileage on only one bike(which is all I ever wanted) all other functions have died. I have a heart rate monitor that both my wife and I also used for about a year each and now sits in a drwer with a dead battery. I found that obsessing over my heartrate,average speed, cadence, etc all interferred with my enjoyment of riding. Obviously others may feel differntly. Good luck

  6. #6
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    You can get a bike computer at Walmart cheap. for any long distance riding, knowing your mileage can be critical unless you are already familiar with the roads. The Brooks saddle will likely be your most treasured single piece of cycling gear. The HRM is not needed for long distance riding. Leave it off your list.

  7. #7
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    That's an inspirational story! Like you, I got into cycling after years of neglecting my body. My whole outlook on life has changed now that I cycle and lift weights regularly. I am more tough and self confident, and I feel great.

    Regarding your hydration strategy - 40-ounces of water per hour is a lot of water. If it's really hot, you may actually need that much, but most riders require between 20-30 ounces per hour. I tend to require about 20-ounces, unless it's hot. But if 40 is working for you, that's great! Just be aware that too much water can degrade athletic performance just as easily as too little water can.

    Regarding:
    Quote Originally Posted by like2read View Post
    Iíve been focusing on adding distance first, since I seem to enjoy ďfurtherĒ more than ďfasterĒ.
    Later on, as you become more trained, it will benefit you to do at least one short, intense training ride per week. This will raise your lactic threshold, making it easier for you to go faster for longer periods of time on distance rides.

    Good luck!

  8. #8
    SeŮor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword View Post
    the order that I would go with is computer > HRM > Brooks. I don't think a better saddle will improve your hand numbness issues...
    Please don't take offense, but the OP said his hand numbness was getting to be less of an issue, and his butt was considerably less than happy after about an hour of riding.

    The way I look at it, there are alternate ways of determining the distance you've ridden (or are going to ride), but you can't redo your saddle time with a different saddle. I had what I thought was a reasonably nice saddle on my tourer. I recently replaced it with an old Fuji leather saddle, and even without any break-in period, I was experiencing saddle bliss. I realize that not everyone finds the same things comfortable, and some people are just luckier in finding a saddle that works for them than are others, but why ride around with a sore butt if you don't have to?
    The search for inner peace continues...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Please don't take offense, but the OP said his hand numbness was getting to be less of an issue, and his butt was considerably less than happy after about an hour of riding.
    no offense taken. I didn't read it as his butt being that bad since he only mentioned it briefly in the post. I'm usually used to interpreting posts with stuff like, "God! My ass feels like it just came out of prison!" But I'm certainly open to being wrong on that read.

    But him describing 24-48 hours of numbness on the tip of one of his fingers did strike me as a sign of nerve damage, and that certainly seemed alarming. Your butt can heal, but nerves are a different story.

    And I didn't say that he shouldn't get a Brooks, but that he should get a computer and HRM first. The computer was fairly self-explanatory -- you should know how fast and far you've gone to begin to gauge the progress of your training. I think an HRM would have also made sense for the rider given that he's starting to get back in shape, but has obviously been pushing himself pretty hard (especially with descriptions of him consistently reporting how exhausted or destroyed he feels at the end). Having an HRM should help you monitor how hard your body is working and help discipline you so that you aren't spending too much effort too soon.

  10. #10
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    Thanks to all who have taken the time to read and generously respond.

    In regards to HRM, I was mostly thinking of that because I really have no idea what my heart rate is when I ride & it seems by many to be quite important to know to increase endurance, build speed, etc.

    My butt being sore is just that, it gets sore. I need to stand a bit, try repositioning, etc. Uncomfortable but not ride-ending. I did try nosing up my saddle a notch before this ride, thinking it might make my tilt my hips back a bit & it resulted in shooting pains in my groin at about 20 miles & got readjusted. That pain would have been ride ending.

    My fingers, for some reason they used to be numb quite a bit & I'd shake them out every few minutes. That went away & only on the last two long rides have I had this numbness afterwards. I was pretty much planning on ignoring it, but nerve damage sounds scary.

    I could start earlier to beat the heat & the thought has occured to me. I have lights already. But I'm not too keen on getting up at 4 am or so on my only days I get to "sleep in". My wife already thinks it's wierd that I'm leaving by 7. I thought maybe working on speed for the hot months would serve me better.

    Stopping at a store for water... most of my rides I map out ahead of time on mapmyride.com (that's how I get the mileage also). I aim for remote roads I've never even driven on before, liking the feel of exploration. Often it will be 5+ miles between houses & I might only see stores within the first/last 10 miles. Plus, thus far I've resisted carrying a lock & am a little nervous about leaving my bike outside the store. I suppose that is the logical next step though. For what it's worth, at about 40 oz/hr, I don't have to stop for any bathroom breaks & it's usually several hours after the ride ends before I have to urinate. I did mention that I'm riding in FL didn't I

    On a computer, similar to my HR, I'm not really sure what my cadence is. I think around 75. So it would be nice to know. My legs haven't been "wrung out" by themselves... it's usually my whole body. So I don't think it's down in the mashing range. They've never really been sore the next day either. I've also got this thought that having a GPS would be nice since I keep getting myself lost.

    Finally, hopefully I didn't overhype the "exhausted" description. Usually I'm feeling pretty good. The 59 mile trip a "bit" difficult was just that. The last few miles seemed like they were all up hill if you know what I mean. Possibly more mental, as I had only planned on 40 miles that morning but missed a turn & being on unfamiliar roads, didn't realize it for quite some time. The 71 mile tirp with the end "quite" difficult. My speed probably dropped in half & I had to drop a couple of gears. This last trip was quite different. I didn't feel good. At all. But I think it was heat, as about an hour before the end, I started to feel quite warm, but not tired at that point.

  11. #11
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    If you are drinking just water, you need some salt to replace what you are sweating out.
    Eric

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  12. #12
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    a heart rate monitor is only useful for training. You can see improvements in your aerobic threshold by comparing your heart rate data to speed versus elevation. Other than that, just ride how you feel. I think most new rider's legs are stronger than their lungs but steady riding will magically improve this. If your goal is improving your lungs, you have to do intervals. But that's rarely the goal of rando/distance types.

    You should not have sore sit bones after riding distance. Skin irritation and muscle soreness are another story.

    Sore wrists are something I have accepted, though since getting new bars that are flat on top appear to have mitigated this soreness. I'm speaking personally here since I had a nasty crash last november which resulted in two fractures in my right elbow. My left wrist has been hurting since then, I assume due to over compensation on long rides

    On hydration, 40 ounces every 10 miles is about two bottles. I found this to be my personal limit in low 90F (30C) degree heat. Hammer endourlyte pills are the best way to get salt back in without the need for sugary "sports drinks".

    The eariler you start riding, the less heat you have to contend with. a 4 AM start is ideal for any distance over 200k.

  13. #13
    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Just another note from a fellow frugal cyclist, on handlebars and wrist comfort. When I last wrapped my bars, I took off the old wrap, cut two pieces of bungee cord and taped them along the back edge of the tops of the bars down to the brifters, making a shelf. Then wrapped, and voila, flat topped handlebars like folks spend a couple hundred on. Dang comfortable let me tell you, and gets me several positions where there is no pressure on that nerve gap down the center of my hand.

    G/L!
    ďImpossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.Ē
    ― Muhammad Ali

  14. #14
    SeŮor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Just another note from a fellow frugal cyclist, on handlebars and wrist comfort. When I last wrapped my bars, I took off the old wrap, cut two pieces of bungee cord and taped them along the back edge of the tops of the bars down to the brifters, making a shelf. Then wrapped, and voila, flat topped handlebars like folks spend a couple hundred on. Dang comfortable let me tell you, and gets me several positions where there is no pressure on that nerve gap down the center of my hand.

    G/L!
    Any chance you could take a picture of this? Sounds like a great idea, that's worth emulating, but I'd like to improve my odds of getting it right the first time.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  15. #15
    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Sure thing. I wanted these:



    ...but I reached in my pocket and only found this :



    So I cut the ends off of one of these:



    ... and cut it in half. I unwrapped the bars (plain black wrap, no style points ), and taped the bungee cord along the back edge of the bars, from a couple inches from the stem to the brifter. Rewrapped with more stylish natural wrap, and voila, flattop bars. The best part is the support under the palm heel when at the hoods. It's like a little hand hammock!



    In hindsight:
    • Should have used more electrical tape on the bungee, cuz it scooches down over time, luckily it scoothes right back up into place.
    • Should have made a fatty part at the lower curve of the drops for a more comfortable hold in the drops, like in the first pic.

    BTW Zorro, I have a client in Mechanicsburg, a crazy looking guy with long hair and handlebar mustachios. He's the guy you may see on the river down there, driving/flying a homemade hydrofoil lol. Maybe you've seen him around.
    Last edited by Spreggy; 08-07-07 at 10:23 PM.
    ďImpossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.Ē
    ― Muhammad Ali

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    I think getting a combo HRM/computer is the number one thing that should be on the list. Measuring cadence and going through the process of upping it to 95-100 while maintaining a moderate heart-rate is impossible without it.
    Pinarello Galileo
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  17. #17
    Senior Member JohnKScott's Avatar
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    Great story! I am in a similar spot. Just started riding in late April and am planning to do my first centruy on 9/1. I didn't get the "bad news" healthwise, but I was definitely out of shape and over weight (still am, but by less now...). Keep on peddlin' bro!!

    Oh, btw, my longest ride to date is 77 mi. The worst part about the ride was my hands. I leanred two things from that ride. Need to do something about those hands and I need to learn to pace myself better (did about 17 mph for the first 44 miles and started crashing at about mile 70). I have a flat bar road bike (now wish I didn't). I just got some new Ergon grips put on and a computer so I can watch my pace. I am planning a 50 mile, paced, ride this weekend. We will see how these things work for me. Hopefully it will help me complete the century.

    Great post!!

  18. #18
    SeŮor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Sure thing.

    ...



    In hindsight:
    • Should have used more electrical tape on the bungee, cuz it scooches down over time, luckily it scoothes right back up into place.
    • Should have made a fatty part at the lower curve of the drops for a more comfortable hold in the drops, like in the first pic.
    BTW Zorro, I have a client in Mechanicsburg, a crazy looking guy with long hair and handlebar mustachios. He's the guy you may see on the river down there, driving/flying a homemade hydrofoil lol. Maybe you've seen him around.

    Neatly done. Thanks for the step by step.

    I don't spend much time near the river, but I'll keep my eyes open for this character when I am there
    The search for inner peace continues...

  19. #19
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    I'd go for the HR monitor. In the end you're trying to optimize your conditionning and if you're doing it at the wrong exertion level or % of max heart rate, you're wasting your time or at least not being very efficient about it.
    One Less Car
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  20. #20
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    It's amazing how easy it is to miss the obvious. I've been complaining about my bars for ten years, and that just never occurred to me. Thanks for the great tip.
    One Less Car
    Conservation begins with you.

  21. #21
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    like2read,

    Great post. I wish you success in your biking future and with your goals. If I may recommend anything being also a biker on a tight budget it is to first get your seat and feet and hands comfortable for long rides. Get a Brooks or a good anatomical seat. And then some good cycling gloves, grips and shoes. The HRM is not necessary. And a 25 dollar bike computer is all you need for most things.

    I agree with your plan to keep at 4 hour rides for the time being and try to continue to build your speed and strength. To do a sub 6 hour century requires an 17 mph average for the whole duration and you need to be able to go 4 hours at that speed without strain before you can even try to do it for 6 hours. Because your going to have a few mild hills even on a flat course you need to practice riding at around 18-20 mph for long periods on the flats. To be able to get your 17 mph average.

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    like2read,
    Just a thought...Are you hydrating yourself enough before you leave the house? Maybe drink enough beforehand that you need to take a pee an hour or so after hitting the road and see if things improve.

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    Thanks all for the continued tips.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
    like2read,
    Just a thought...Are you hydrating yourself enough before you leave the house? Maybe drink enough beforehand that you need to take a pee an hour or so after hitting the road and see if things improve.
    On my long rides, I wake up, drink about 10 oz of water, stretch & get on the bike. Even on the 6hr + ride, it was several hours after I finished before I had to pee.

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    I recommend using Gatorade, Powerade. A couple of years ago, my girlfriend who can outrun me on any 10 K race (on foot) would always bunk around the 40th mile on the bike. I convinced her to drink Gatorade instead of plain water and she can now follow me well beyond 60 miles. You don't have to buy these expensive drinks or drink mix, there are recipes on the web for mixing the right amount of sugar and salt in the water (I think it is 6g of sugar per litre + 30 ml salt).

    Hyponatremia (salt depletion in cells from too much water) is something to fear in extreme heat. 40 ounces in an hour is a lot a water, but I live in the North-East. Still, facing extreme heat, I would not go with just plain water.

    Great story. Keep up the good work.

  25. #25
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    Awesome story - I was there in 2004. Cholesterol over 300, drinking and smoking, just unhealthy. With no meds, got on the bike and with diet and cycling, reduced cholesterol to sub-200, body is stronger, and life is better :-) Keep it up!

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