2 Days Post Dehydration on Portland Century

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I'm still not feeling 100%. I still pretty tired & my body feels the effects of being severely dehydrated on Sunday. Despite what I went through, I'm already trying to gather information about September rides. I've learned a LOT through this experience, which is good. This experience will take me to the next level of performance & better prepare me so I remain well hydrated & nourished on future rides.

Here are some things I have learned:
1) Always be prepared. This means having a small tool kit for emergency bike repairs, adequate water storage for 20 to 30 mile stretches between stops (I only had an 8 oz. bottle--not nearly enough to last for a long stretch), and gel packs, cliff bars, and tylenol or advil.
2) Listen to what my body is telling me and take matters into my own hands. I pushed myself and passed convenience stores trying to make it to the next rest stop, partly because I had become separated from Landon, and partly because I was ignoring my body's signals. Next time I will stop & purchase water & food when I need them instead of trying to force my body to make it to the rest-stops that were poorly placed on the ride.
3) Turn all negative experiences into a learning experience both for myself and for the planners of organized rides. This means wording my e-mails & comments in a constructive and didactic manner so that planners can improve future rides.
4) Learn the basics about how to fix & repair my bike should problems arise along the way. Fortunately, on the Portland Century, I only faced my bike chain coming off, which I needed help to fix, but there were many bikers who had flat tires or bulging tubes, faulty brakes, and other mechanical failures. I need to learn how to tighten the nuts & bolts on my bike so I can protect myself from becoming stranded.
5) Always carry a cell phone with me on this ride. We only carried one, so when we became separated, Landon had no way to reach me.
6) Never become separated--communicate so that this does not happen.

Here is some additional information that is key in preventing severe dehydration or heat stroke:
I'm afraid I'll have problems again, what can I do?

Once you've had a bad experience during a ride, and we all have -- or will have if we ride long enough -- you want to do something so it doesn't happen again. I'll help you get started with a few tips:

For fueling, a good baseline to begin with is 200 to 300 calories per hour. Consider bumping this number up if you are experiencing problems. If you have a very light, or zero, breakfast; begin consuming calories at the 20- or 30-minute mark at the beginning of the ride. If you had a hearty breakfast, you can begin refueling later in the ride, around the 60-minute mark.

The easiest way to begin your personal experiment on fluid replacement is to weigh yourself before and after a ride to find out if you are having weight loss. Ideally, if you weigh yourself before the ride and consume enough fluid during the ride to prevent weight loss, you are supplementing perfectly.

If you weigh yourself before the ride and have a weight loss post-ride, this means you are sweating out more than you are replacing. It does appear that you can be somewhat dehydrated without causing problems, but losing over 2 percent of your body weight negatively affects performance, by as much as 20 percent. Start with a guideline of one water bottle of fluid per hour and adjust from there.

If your clothes look like a salt mine after a ride and you feel "crampy" or notice performance declines during a ride not related to fitness or fueling, you may need to supplement with electrolyte tablets.

Electrolyte tablets often include sodium, chloride (sodium and chloride are "salt"), potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. The major players are sodium and chloride. The secondary players seem to be potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Before supplementing with electrolyte tablets, look at the content label of your drink mix and know how many milligrams of electrolytes it supplies per serving. If you decide to supplement, begin with about 200 to 500 milligrams of sodium chloride per hour and adjust from there.

(Quick tip: A pinch of salt is about 100 milligrams of sodium chloride, and can help keep cramps at bay if you think you're heading for trouble. Eat a pinch, or two, of salt at your next refueling stop and be sure to drink about 8 ounces of water to dilute the salt.)

This column barely scratches the surface of all the issues, but hopefully it helps you begin your own self-experiment.

Pay attention to what hydration and fueling strategy works for you under what conditions, and be willing to make adjustments to your plan when conditions change.

Excerpt from article posted here: http://www.active.com/story.cfm?story_id=10767&sidebar=569&category=century_challenge

Feeling Optimistic about Future Rides,


JeffM said...

The Peach Century in Salem has a 60 and 100 mile option. It's a lot cheaper and put on by the Salem bike club, they mark the roads at every turn. They have a couple of food stops with usually fruit and cookies.

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