Adding It All Up

8:00 a.m.: Wake up and start the day.  Drink 500 ml of water and swallow a bunch of supplements.

9:00 a.m.: Make breakfast: 1/2 cup of oats, spoonful of chia seeds cooked with 1 1/2 cups of water, unsweetened almond milk, one banana and peanut butter. Finish eating at around 9:45. Drink 500 ml of water.

10:00 – 12:00 p.m.: Lounge around the house reading the paper and sitting outside thinking about riding.

12:15 p.m.: Get kitted up in shorts, jersey, lightweight undershirt and fill pockets with two packages of Clif Bloks and two Clif Shot Gels. Stuff extra tubes, a pump, arm warmers (?), money, bank card and credit card into pockets. Fill two large bottles with water and stick them in my bottle cages.

12:30 p.m.: Start riding at close to the warmest part of the day. Head out directly into the fierce headwind with the goal of riding to Merrickville. This has me riding in either a crosswind or headwind for 2 hours and 13 minutes. During the 2 hours and 13 minutes of steady hardish riding I drink about half a bottle of water and consume 4 Clif Bloks (around 180 calories).

2:45 p.m.: Arrive at the Neighhbourhood Cafe just outside of Merrickville. Purchase two massive freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, 1 bottle of water and 1 can of root beer. Have trouble with math and counting out the loonies and quarters. Sit down at a picnic table and immediately feel very cold and notice I’m covered in goosebumps – assume this is because I’m in the “shade” and wind…

3:00 pm.: Top up my water bottle and start riding back to Ottawa. With a very strong tailwind I’ve gone from 18 – 20 km/hour on the way out to 38 – 42 km/hour on the way home. Feeling like a monster. Riding a much smaller gear than is normal. Notice that my left knee is rather stiff and sore (it was on the way out but I kind of forgot about it). Make it to Becket’s Landing in record time on nary a drop of water or food – feeling like the Incredible Hulk. Proceed to ride down McCordick Road (one of my favourite roads) and begin to feel rotten – knee is sore, the crosswind is horrible (it really wasn’t), my bum hurts, and my triceps begin to ache. I eat the last two Clif Bloks in my first package (around 20 calories) and drink water. The wheels begin to fall off, I’m feeling very slow and not enjoying my ride. I think about calling someone to pick me up.

4:00 p.m.: Decide to take a Clif Shot Gel and drink lots of water. Still riding in the crosswind but making progress home. Knee is sore. Triceps are full of lactic acid. Feeling like the Pilsbury Dough Boy.

5:15 p.m.: Crawl up the driveway. Finally home. Took me almost the same amount of time to get home as it did to ride to Merrickville… Important to understand how crazy the winds were on the way out – should have been a much quicker ride home. Look in the mirror – I’m encrusted in white salt – I have it in my hair, all over my arms and legs, and my face is coated.

6:00 p.m.: I feel rotten. My arms are looking a bit pink. Drag myself out to eat – no energy to cook. Have hardly an appetite. Sit around all night feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck.

9:30 p.m.: Go to bed. My arms by now are bright bright red and burning hot. Sunburned and swollen. Restless night of sleep and I end up sleeping until 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning (usually I get up at 6:00 a.m. without an alarm clock). Have a splitting headache and my legs are dead. My arms are radiating heat and very swollen.

All of these little mistakes that I made during my day on Sunday May 11, could have ended up being very very bad. I think the only thing that got me home was sheer will and the crazy thinking that this suffering was good for me. I didn’t need to suffer on that ride and I shouldn’t have – if I’d eaten and drank more on the way out, had drank more water while sitting for a bit in Merrickville, had not pushed such a small gear on the way back, had eaten and drank more while riding, and by remembering that it was my longest solo ride this season on such a hot windy day – this would have been a very different blog post.

I know better. I’ve been riding for a long time now. Taken individually – not eating enough, not drinking enough, not listening to the body, being stubborn, ignoring the weather – these things are bad enough – but add them all up and squish them into a four hour ride and bad things happen. Luckily, I’m generally feeling okay today – just dealing with the residual effects of a bad sunburn….

The next time you head out on a long ride or even a short hard ride – remember how easy it is to make little mistakes that end up hurting your training.

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