Thursday, June 9, 2011

600K DNF

Well, I won't keep you in suspense any longer. I didn't finish the 600K ride last Saturday/Sunday in Ohio. I did try to post Monday night, but blogger didn't want to upload my photos, and after the third try, I went to bed. Tonight's the first night I've had a chance to make this fateful post.

While I was disappointed I didn't finish the ride (I'll tell you what happened in a little bit...), I still had a really great time, for the most part. And I learned a great deal more about randonneuring.

We started on Saturday at 5:00am in Blue Ash, on the northeast side of Cincinnati. Did you notice that all of these starts look the same?

It was quite warm, I'm guessing in the low 70's. Our high temps weren't even in the 70's as little as 5 days prior to this ride. An ominous sign of things to come?

As the sun came up, it was a beautiful, warm, green morning. The abundant rains this spring have burst every bud imaginable with lush, green foliage and lovely bloom. After a few hours riding, I settled into a very reasonable rhythm. I felt very good and strong, especially on the hills. I soon found myself in a small pack with Toshi, below here, on the right hand side, and two tandems (I forgot all 4 names). I find riding with tandems to be fun, because there are twice as many people in one spot, and they fly on flat ground - a great vehicle behind which I can draft. On the uphills, however, they are quite slow. None of the tandem folk found it amusing when I offered to provide a draft up the hills for them.

Once we got into the hilly country, I dropped the tandems behind and out of sight. But Jim came into view coming down a hill from the opposite direction. He said we were going the wrong direction, but I knew I was right, because this portion of the route is the same as the 400K ride I did here 3 weeks ago.

A little while later, Jim came roaring back and caught up with me. Jim is quite the strong rider as he is able to cruise at a much higher speed on flat ground than I am. And he flies down hills. But I am able to keep up with him or go a little bit faster uphill than he. Here he is below, way ahead, up the hill.

And around the curve.

And around another curve.

Like I said, I was feeling very good, great, even! And the scenery was magnificent!

Everyone who could make hay was out today making it.

Pretty soon we were in West Union, almost 100 miles into the ride. I grabbed a quick bottle of water, got the brevet card signed, and headed right back onto my bike. About 10 miles outside of West Union, I had my first cramp - in the hamstring. Pretty soon, my right hamstring was really cramped up, and going up the steep hills really hurt. I walked up the steepest hills, then pedaled slowly on the downhills. Soon, my left hamstring cramped up. Damn! I still had at least 30 miles to Georgetown, the next control.

I was able to make it, but it took me over 3 more hours to cover that 30 miles. The temperature must have been above 95 degrees, and I was covered in buckets of sweat. By the time I got to Georgetown, I was totally beat. I sat in the United Dairy Farmers convenience store and slowly drank a big Gatorade. Then I filled my water bottles, bought another big gatorade and a big bottle of water and put those in my rack trunk, and headed out into the heat. I felt much better, but after 10 miles, the cramps were back. I still had 47 miles to go to get back to the next control - Blue Ash, where we started.

I kept riding, slowly, and still had to walk the steepest portions of the big hills. As I was almost out of water and Gatorade, I came upon this little park pavillion with a drinking fountain. I stopped here and spent quite a while. By this time, my breathing was shallow and rapid, even after I had stayed in the shade here for quite some time. I knew I was in trouble.

I managed to get back to Blue Ash (the hotel was the control). After I had the brevet card signed, I went across the road, bought a chicken sandwich, Klondike bar, and small bottle of chocolate milk and went back to my hotel room. I quickly devoured the food, took a cool shower, and layed down for an hour in the bed.

I got up and headed back out on the bike around 11:00 pm. Bob, the Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA), was in the room right next door. He was standing outside when I came out of my room, and he had his regular shorts and a t-shirt on. Bob and his wife, Patti, started the ride this morning also (on a tandem), but bailed because of the heat.

That put an idea in my head. I could bail. But I didn't want to. I got on the bike, and slowly, and painfully, pedaled out of town. By this time, the skies were lit up almost constantly by lightning from severe thunderstorms to the north - the direction I was headed. Since I had very little energy left in my legs, and they were immensely sore, I headed back into Blue Ash, turned over my brevet card to Bob, and went back to bed. Man, did I ever sleep good.

I awoke the next morning and headed for home. I wished I had drank much more water and Gatorade on the first part of the ride. The morning gradually became warmer, and I didn't pay attention to that, and became dehydrated. By the time I got to West Union, it was too late, the damage was done.

There were 35 people who started, but only 18 finished. Those 18 are tough, and experienced randonneurs. I am glad I got to ride with them, for a while. I'd like to say I'll attempt another 600K this year, but I'm not sure that I will. I'll definitely ride some more 200K's with these fine Ohio folk. For now, I'm just glad to still be riding.

Happy riding!



Steve A said...

"...idea in my head. I could bail. But I didn't want to"

Which is why you will ultimately be a randoneur exceptional - or some other French expression. Je salute! (or some more proper version)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, albeit at the expense of your health, but it reminded me of the importance of ensuring you keep up on the liquid intake - even for us who ride much shorter distances. Hope you are feeling better.

Apertome said...

These things happen -- it sounds like you had a great ride all the same! Your photos certainly indicate some excellent scenery. I'm impressed you even attempted 600K, frankly.

limom said...

Knowing your limits is important.
I can't imagine riding somewhere with thirty to go and my legs cramping up.
Hopefully you'll feel better next time.

Big Oak said...

Merci beaucoup, Steve.

PA, Apertome, Limom, Thanks, and yes, I'm fine, and have gotten many pain-free, hydrating miles in since the weekend. Next time (anytime, actually), I plan to drink plenty of fluids no matter the distance.

Trevor Woodford said...

Well have my total admiration for even attempting this ride. I am happy to ride 200k a day on long distance multi day rides but I don't think I would attempt 600k in that time scale....I take my hat off to you..!!


D A N O said...

Your a better man than me..(on the bike) no way could I do that and I ride everyday....

Jon said...

It takes cojones the size of basketballs to just show up at the starting line of a 600k.

And, by my count you rode over 175 miles, in the heat My hat is off, sir.

Anonymous said...

Along with others, I take my hat off, Sir. You are an inspiration to me personally. I appreciate not only your efforts, but reading about them as well. Regards.

rlove2bike said...

I am like some of the others here...just to start a 600k is a thought that has never entered my mind. It says a lot to just start a ride like that.

Cutting hay already, and it looks thick too. I guess when I think about it, it won't be long here either. Time flies.

Thanks for the write-up. I know I learned from it.

Pondero said...

Bravo, Bill, for not being stubborn-headed and getting yourself into serious trouble. I'm doubly impressed with what you've accomplished in this series. That is the kind of good judgment that allows you the opportunity to complete a 600k down the road, if you so choose.

jeff said...

Agree with all the sentiments here. I applaud your judgment when it was time to say "enough". And just attempting such a feat, as Wayne and Garth would say " We're not worthy!"

Chandra said...

DNF is no biggie, there is always next time, but your decision was the right one. I had to DNF in a couple of rides of the RUSA, although they were not as long as the ones you attempted. Safety comes first, always!!

Peace :)

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you'll get it next time. That dehydration thing can sneak up on you, especially if you've not been training in similar weather.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you'll get it next time. That dehydration thing can sneak up on you, especially if you've not been training in similar weather.

Big Oak said...

Thanks again, everyone for your kind thoughts. I've been very impressed by your well wishes all spring, and often during those long rides your genuine expressions of support helped sustain me when the going was tough.

As for the 600K, I'm happy I attempted that ride, and I'm glad I quit when I did. I chalk up that experience as a learning opportunity.

As I write (er, type), I am contemplating another 600K in Rochester, MN in September. While it can get hot there in Sept., more likely than not it'll be much cooler than last weekend in Cincy. I really want to complete full ACP Rando series (200K, 300K, 400K, 600K) this year. Maybe a longer brevet next year, and right now, I'd like to attempt London-Edinburgh-London in 2013. I've got some training to do before then.