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Old 06-05-11, 07:53 PM   #1
Newspaperguy
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Trying to understand what went wrong

Yesterday and today I was out on an overnight ride of about 85 kilometres each way, in preparation for a tour this summer. To sort out load distribution and to understand weight issues and speeds, I had the same load Iím planning to use this summer, which is around the same as Iíve used on most of my bike tours.

Yesterday, despite having a nasty headwind for the first 60 kilometres, the ride went well. I left home at 3:30 and stopped for the night around 8:15 p.m.

Today, on the way back I had a great ride for the first half. Then I encountered a headwind again, as well as two big climbs. That combination and possibly the heat as well took a toll and the last 20 kilometres were tough slogging.

I know Iím easily capable of much longer rides with the same load. Iíve done them in the past. The temperature reached around 30 C today under sunny skies and while Iíve been out on hotter days, it was a bit of a shock since the spring has been cooler than usual this year. Iíve been home for several hours now and Iím feeling good again, as if I could handle more riding without issue.

Iím trying to understand what went wrong and more importantly, how to prevent it from happening in the future.
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Old 06-05-11, 08:03 PM   #2
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Wonder if you were dehydrated?
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Old 06-05-11, 08:50 PM   #3
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My vote would be dehydration. Heat really zaps your strength, I was a lifeguard in the summer and people laughed at me when I got off and was exhausted some days, they said I just sat around all day, and while true, I was in direct sun and heat for long periods of time. I know when spring and summer rolls in around here, 100 plus days, in West Texas it takes a week or so for your body to adjust being out in the heat all day.
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Old 06-05-11, 08:58 PM   #4
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Newspaperguy, Generally I think dehydration or lack of nutrients is the culprit. There are times when a ride, for no apparent reason, just goes south. Perhaps the previous night's rest or a meal that just didn't 'settle' properly... it's anyone's guess. Worth looking into if it happens again.

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Old 06-05-11, 10:10 PM   #5
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Thanks, all. I'm in a dry area and in summer, it's possible to get hot before feeling hot. At least this is something easy enough to control.
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Old 06-05-11, 10:52 PM   #6
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If I'm reading it right, you haven't ridden fully loaded for a while? Even if you commute, ride unloaded etc, it may take a day or two to get back used to the load. You may have just pushed it a bit more than you're body was used to - in combination with the heat, and then using up energy reserves, it doesn't sound surprising at all to me.

Fully loaded climbs are relatively much slower in my experience. Takes a paradigm shift to realise "oh, I have to go this slowly to conserve strength" Maybe you just tried to go too fast (at your normal speed) up those hills.

... then again, it could have been just one of those days

Whatever, don't worry, sounds like all you need is a couple of days back on the road and you'll be back in form...

Last edited by imi; 06-05-11 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 06-06-11, 12:37 AM   #7
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Based on my experiences commuting 7 miles (each way) for 7 days in a row, and then my longer and shorter rides on my week off in between, I can say that my experiences in the saddle vary pretty dramatically depending on the following:

- How much sleep I've had in the last day or two
- How much I've eaten (and what) in the past 24 hours
- If I've had anything to drink in the past day or three

If I haven't slept 5-7+ hours the past couple of days, eaten well the day previous day or more, or if I've had a few drinks or more in the past day or two then my cycling is much more work, has a longer warm up phase and I'm likely to run out of steam. If I eat enough, drink enough water and little or no beer/wine/booze and get at least 5 hours sleep for a couple of days I can happily cycle forever.

Last edited by Medic Zero; 06-06-11 at 02:28 PM. Reason: total daily mileage
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Old 06-06-11, 02:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imi View Post
If I'm reading it right, you haven't ridden fully loaded for a while? Even if you commute, ride unloaded etc, it may take a day or two to get back used to the load. You may have just pushed it a bit more than you're body was used to - in combination with the heat, and then using up energy reserves, it doesn't sound surprising at all to me.

Fully loaded climbs are relatively much slower in my experience. Takes a paradigm shift to realise "oh, I have to go this slowly to conserve strength" Maybe you just tried to go too fast (at your normal speed) up those hills.

... then again, it could have been just one of those days

Whatever, don't worry, sounds like all you need is a couple of days back on the road and you'll be back in form...
Much of this.

But wind also can take a lot out of you without you noticing. Especially in warm weather because the evaporative effect from the wind seems to keep you cool and you don't really notice how much sweat you've lost.
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Old 06-06-11, 03:25 AM   #9
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Dehydration maybe the cause.

I have travelled 700km (flat, no wind, 7 days) in China back in August '09, the temperature was 37-39 C for the entire week. I had to drink 4+ litres of water a day.
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Old 06-06-11, 06:58 AM   #10
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I occasionally just run out of fuel at the end of a long day, not dehydration related. I generally have suspected that blood sugar or electrolyte levels are too low. Usually when this happens I felt like I had a lot of energy an hour before I ran out of fuel which adds to the confusion.
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Old 06-06-11, 07:06 AM   #11
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Then I encountered a headwind again, as well as two big climbs. That combination and possibly the heat as well took a toll and the last 20 kilometres were tough slogging.

...The temperature reached around 30 C today under sunny skies and while I’ve been out on hotter days, it was a bit of a shock since the spring has been cooler than usual this year.
Sounds like my Saturday ride of about the same distance. Another vote for dehydration. I'm in Texas and regularly ride in temps approaching 40C but couldn't handle 35C on Saturday. I knew I was pushing it, but had only about 10 km to go and pedaled through against my better judgment. I really should have stopped a bit to cool down and hydrate.
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Old 06-06-11, 07:41 AM   #12
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Lack of acclimation to the heat and possibly dehydration would be my guess. It takes a while for your body to adjust to hot temperatures, and if this is the first warm weather of the year, it is not surprising that you suffered in the heat. It usually takes me about two weeks to get acclimated when the weather starts heating up.
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Old 06-06-11, 07:59 AM   #13
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No matter how much I train, I'm always pretty wimpy for the first few days of a tour. I've decided not to fight it. I now allow myself very unambitious goals for a couple of days - 25-35 miles. The second day is usually worse than the first. I'm still wimpy and suffering from the effects of the previous day's ride. Sometimes I take a rest day on the third day to "recover". After that I settle into my normal 55-mile-a-day average.

Dehydration is also something to avoid. Drink water often, whether you feel thirsty or not.
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Old 06-06-11, 09:19 AM   #14
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Thanks, all. I'm in a dry area and in summer, it's possible to get hot before feeling hot. At least this is something easy enough to control.
If you don't pee every 2h, you're likely to be dehydrated. That's how I keep tabs on hydration And yeah: drink before you're thirsty, eat before you're hungry and rest before you're tired If you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
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Old 06-06-11, 11:02 AM   #15
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Happened to me the other day. Not touring, just a casual ride that kicked my butt out of nowhere about 5 miles in. I took the rest of the ride very easy, and the next day I was back to normal. I just chalked it up to heat exhaustion, but I really don't know.
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Old 06-06-11, 11:05 AM   #16
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I don't see anything that went wrong. MedicZeros points are good. What happens off the bike matters. Going to bed immediately after a long ride without walking off the ride leaves you starting the next day needing to start off easy. Sounds like you didn't start off easy and the total exertion would have taxed you with good temps.
Nothing is wrong, what is, is.
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Old 06-08-11, 09:52 AM   #17
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Training training training.
I ride 50km most evenings with double that on the weekends. And group riding with a local road race club once a week. I can hop on my touring bike and go again the next day because I am used to consecutive days.
You need to be used to consecutive days in the saddle.
Most of the riders I talk to have the most trouble 2 or three days into the trip.
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