Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Day 1--Extreme, Beyond Category Ride
So Long Pacific Ocean
I knew this was going to be a hard day but if I had known how extreme it would be I don’t know if I would have started it. It was by far the hardest day of riding I have ever had.
The day started at 6am with breakfast and I started riding at 6:45. The first 25 miles were through San Diego heading more or less east. By mile 25 the ride began to climb and the temperature climbed rapidly. For the first 25 miles we had a nice tail wind off the ocean but bythe time the climb started the wind had shifted to the east and was blowing hot desert wind through the canyons we were climbing. By mile 50 I had climbed 3500 feet and the road temperature was 105 (in the shade if was 100). By mile 70 I had climbed 7000 feet and the road temperature was steady at 105. The heat was crushing me and my pace was slow. Usually I try to ride 50 miles in around 3 hours if there isn’t much climbing. Today it took nearly 5 hours to go 50 miles and nearly 7 hours to go 70. To give you an idea of how hard it was, most of the northern tier riders (Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin) starting quitting at mile 35!
Then it really got hot. At mile 92 the climb peaked with a total climb of 7500 feet and I descended into the desert. The air temperature quickly climbed from 100 to 110 and the road temperature was 118. At this temperature things can go wrong very fast.
We were told this about riding in the desert. At 70-80 degrees a cyclist should drink a bottle of water an hour. At 80-90 that should be two bottles one of which needs to be an endurance drink with electrolytes. At 90-100 that should be four bottles half of which need to an endurance drink. At 100-110 it should be eight all endurance drinks and above 110 is should be 16. It isn’t possible to drink 8 bottles of sports drink(160 oz) an hour and water just dilutes the bodies electrolytes. I was drinking 100 ozs an hour most of which was water, taking electrolyte tablets, and I was dehydrating. Plus my appetite was gone. All very bad things.
I paired up with a couple of other struggling riders on the desert floor for the last 30 miles into El Centro. Because we were now 10 hours into this ride a support truck stayed close. Then we were hit with a dust storm. Cars are driving with their lights on. The temperature drops into the upper 90’s and the wind is at our backs but at this temperature that just makes it hotter. At mile 122 it started to rain, hard. The dust storm was from the squall line of the thunderstorm. For a while it was raining mud and we were just a mess.
We completed the 127 miles and 7500 feet of climbs in 12 hours only to find the power out everywhere in El Centro. No air conditioning in the rooms and the temperature is still above 100 (when it stopped raining the temperature returned ). And that also meant there was no where to eat. Fortunately just at 7pm, 13 hours after starting the day, the power returned along with air conditioning and food.
This was the most extreme day of riding I have ever had. If I thought everyday was going to be like this I would be on a bus tomorrow for Boulder. They won’t be. Only one other day appears to be planned to be extreme, beyond category and that won’t be for a couple of weeks. The next two days are hard, desert rides but should not be this extreme. Unless locusts join the dust and rain storms.