Browsing articles tagged with " road cycling"
May
24

Why I Bonked on my 1st Century Attempt.

By Josh  //  cycling, road  //  No Comments

Friday – bad idea born

On this past friday night (let the record note 5/21/10), it popped in my head that I could ride one hundred miles in one day, and then of course I thought that since I could I should.  The plan was set then I’d wake up the next morning and do it.

Saturday – bad idea executed

9am – I woke up, rolled over and went to mapmyride.com to plot a route for my first century ride.  I came up with something I thought looked pretty good based on an0ther ride I’d found.  I would ride to Lawrence and back.  It met the obvious 100 mile criteria, as well as several less important ones.  It had a place to stop along the way that would have drinks, and to top it off it sounded cool. Question- “What’d you do today?”  Answer-”Not much… just biked to Lawrence & back.” (applause and celebration)

The Proposed Route:

I’m lucky enough to have a Garmin Edge 500, which has a cool map function.  I downloaded the route to it, and wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to rain.  Hooray! Weather.com only showed 5% chance of rain.  Unfortunately I then noticed that the high for the day was to be 95 degrees, and that there were expected wind gusts of 40 mph.  This in hindsight is precisely the moment I should have chosen to shorten my route, and postponed my attack for another day.  I was excited though, and thought it would simply make my accomplishment a little more impressive.

I was hungry then, so I put on a bib, threw some sunblock on my legs and arms (forgot about my face) and went downstairs to nourish.  I ate the following:

  • 2 butterscotch oatmeal cookies made by my lovely wife Emily (estimated 240 calories)
  • 1 Chobani Blueberry greek yogurt (140 calories)
  • 1 Lo Carb Monster energy drink ( 0 calories)

So my total caloric breakfast intake was 380 calories ( that will come into play later).

I filled up my two water bottles (with water), finished suiting up and headed off.  I planned on grabbing a couple Shot Bloks (energy supplements for intense workouts) from my normally boundless supply, but when I went to get them I realized that all I had was one pack left.  I didn’t think this was a very big deal, because I ride 3-4 times a week for distances of 30-45 miles without using Bloks, and I figured I could find them at whatever gas station I stopped at along the route.

10am – I was on the road, and loving it.  I had my iPhone pumping good tunes, it was sunny out, and aside from the wind I was fighting, I was feeling good.

11am – I was still feeling okay, I hadn’t drank any water until around now, and while I was having to steadily fight the wind, it still wasn’t that bad because the winds was blowing North, and I was heading mainly west.

11:05am – I turned South heading directly into the wind. This was where things started to get tough mentally. I had no idea where I was, and I had no idea how long I was going to be cycling directly into the wind. My average speed over this dead south section was 12mph (normally I average around 20 mph).


11:15am – Started heading West again.  There are occasional hills but nothing too bad.  I’m starting to wonder how long this is actually going to take me to complete.  At this point I’m 40 miles into the trek and 1 hour and 38 minutes.  It’s right around this point that I enter the closest things to mountains that can exist in Kansas.  I’m back heading South again & that combined with a hill puts a serious hurt on my legs.  I’m back heading west again, and come up on a series of incline gains that take me up 192′ in 1 mile.

12:05pm – FINALLY heading North!  I have the wind to my back, and I’m going downhill.  I’m feeling recharged.  I still had no idea where I was until I started to recognize the southwest side of Lawrence.  It was almost at that exact moment though my pre-planned route had me turn west again to head over to Clinton Lake.  I followed it, but around 12:15 I couldn’t take it anymore, and had to pull off for a break.  I stretched, drank a bottle of water and ate my Shot Bloks.  I felt like the time was good because I was close to Lawrence (which was theoretically my halfway point).  I started up again and about 2 miles down the road both of my quads cramped simultaneously.  I was kind of in shock because I knew how much longer I still had to go.  I pulled off and found a RC airplane flying field that was empty.  There was a shelter, so I got out of the sun, and tried to rest and stretch for a while.  I rested for about 20 minutes and started up again.
I made it around the lake and started heading back into and through Lawrence. I got up to 6th street and had to stop again. I knew I needed some fuel bad. I picked up 2-20oz gatorades & a PowerBar. I drank one of the Gatorade’s and ate the Powerbar. I knew it would take a while for any of the junk I ingested to actually get to my muscles, but on the other hand sitting at the gas station getting sandblasted from the wind gusts wasn’t much fun either, so I started off again.

Making it up the hill on Iowa by the dorms combined with timing traffic lights caused my quads to cramp up again, but I cleared the hill and rather than stopping decided to try and work through the cramps. I was feeling better, made it to Haskell, had to turn south again into the wind and that’s when I realized that failure was eminent. I was not going to be able to accomplish the goal. Every major muscle group in my body was cramping at this point. Quads, hams, calves,even my arms were cramping. I tried to gather myself and got another drink (60oz Vitamin Water), an apple and a bag of chips. I have almost no memory of this time. I was exhausted and disoriented. I called a friend (who graciously came and picked me up), I tossed my bike in his car, and headed home.

Actual Stats From My Trip:

Could I Have Done It?

What did I do wrong? Could I have accomplished my goal?
While I’ll never really know for sure, I think I could have made it 100 miles if I’d done even one of the following differently.

  1. First and foremost: hydrate better. I should have started out with Gatorade instead of water. I lost a ton of electrolytes and salt from the high temps, and I didn’t replenish them often enough during my ride. I also should have brought more fluid along. Two bottles in 50 miles isn’t enough. drinking more could have easily eliminated my cramps, and gotten me home.
  2. Eat better:  I didn’t eat enough early on, and certainly didn’t eat enough throughout my ride.  Doing this could also have made the ride a success.
  3. Account for the weather:  I picked a really bad day to attempt my first century ride, and had I picked a better day, my chances would have improved a lot.

All in all, while it was painful, I learned a lot of valuable stuff.  I wish that I had thought a little more ahead of time before setting myself up for failure, but after all isn’t that what life is about?  Failure and learning? ;)

Quotes I Like…

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~Plato

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ~Epictetus

Anyone who trades liberty for security, deserves neither liberty nor security. ~Benjamin Franklin

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as they do it from religeous conviction. ~Blaise Pascal

When a person is down in the world, an ounce of help is better than a pound of preaching. ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton