What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes an Interesting Story

I spent a few days out in Palm Springs, to ride a desert area and try to get used to the climate as part of training for the Furnace Creek 508.  Though most of the training was uneventful, there was one ride where a few things went awry. I should have had a lot more water and Endurox BEFORE I went out; that was my main error. But hey,  what doesn’t kill you, makes for an interesting story. And this kind of failure is an important learning experience for me.

Training in The Heat

I got out  late in the day, but it was just as well: how else can I know if I’m ready to stand the desert heat and dryness of Death Valley unless I just go for it? Well, I sure did. I got out at around 9:30am, by which time it was already 102° F. The ride out to Desert Hot Springs by way of Indian Canyon was rather intense. The speed limit is around 50 mph, but thankfully most of the way, there a good shoulder. The wind was intense once I turned west. That wind tunnel there is my least favorite thing to ride, which is why I rode it. I don’t remember the road being quite that rough, but wow, Desert Hot Springs roads are rough. It was tough being out there all by myself, mostly because I felt very unprotected from cars, but I seriously needed to train like that.  Most of the ride was OK, but at almost exactly mile 40, I got exceedingly hot. My head was burning up inside my helmet. I checked the top of my head to make sure it wasn’t actually on fire. Then I realized that I had gone a bit too far on the road I was on: I wasn’t exactly lost, but I was disoriented. Then the nausea set in. Okay, I recognized this as Heat Exhaustion. It’s so true that knowing the problem is often the first step towards a solution. Thankfully, I came across a grocery store, a Ralph’s with a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf inside. I went in, sat down and had ice cold water (great idea), bit of a frozen soy latte (bad idea) and  bagel (good idea). Then I realized that I had my iPhone on me and bang, knew exactly were I was. I was lucky that day to meet some very nice strangers; the girls at the Coffee Bean counter were very sweet. I chatted with them for a little while, partially to figure out where in the Desert Cities I was, and partially to see if I could hold a conversation coherently. I also chatted with a local guy who rides and, quickly figured out what happened. I seemed alright so I went on; after all, I only had another 15-20 miles.

Only? Yeah, um ah, no. I went on to ride in some of the worst heat-plus-wind-plus-dry I’ve ever experienced. I’m usually not one to slow down or pull over, but I did both several times in these last miles. It was 112°. The goal then was to make it the rest of the way, on my own, but safely. It was one of the toughest 60 milers I’ve ever done. But I did it on my own, and safely; in spite of everything, I did alright. I had a massage the next day with a skilled local; this helped to flush out any toxins and prevent a whole world of pain. I can’t begin to talk about the benefits of a proper massage after an intense workout.

I’m happy to see that I’m changing as an athlete, as I get older; I’m getting a bit wiser, in that I’m reading my bodies’ signals better. Rather than just pushing on (which is my instinct), I stopped to evaluate myself.  I realized that “Plan B” was in order: getting into the shade somewhere, with my bike, drinking cold water. “Plan C” consisted of taking a cab back to the motel. I’m happy that it never came to that, but was willing to make that happen, if necessary. This shows a maturity and discipline in my training that I didn’t have fifteen years ago.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: