With Beginners Page 9 ½ I mentioned it was so labeled because I had almost completed Beginners Page 10: Lessons Learned, and I thought after learning 10 lessons, I could move on and write about such sophisticated topics as how to determine the correct timing to break from the peloton, pull back the leaders, and then effectively sprint to the finish. And as a touch of panache, how to ride with no hands, pumping the arms in the air in a show of victory—all without falling over in front of the crowd and cameras. But alas, I keep making beginners’ mistakes or learning the obvious which experienced riders take for granted. If I am to continue to wait until I stop making mistakes, stop having maladies, or stop having adventures before I post # 10, I am going to have to renumber and start with 9.1; 9.2; 9.3; ad infinitum.
Joe Btfsplk struck again.
However, the cloud over his head (mine??) slowly built like darkening cumulus clouds. To continue the metaphor the wind picked up, thunder and lighting started, and then the rain and hail burst forth. How does the analogy fit with a story? Please read on. Liz, the famed mountain climber, innocently asked us if we were going to ride Saturday morning. Hey, sounded like a good idea as we needed some distance to prepare for HHH, so let’s get a ride started. An email was sent out concerning a ride and the cumulus clouds darkened. After checking the forecast, the email promised:
Lo 73 hi 95
Wind SSE 12
Zero (0) chance of rain!!
Just as I hit send, I checked the forecast again and suddenly it was saying 30% chance of thunderstorms. The brave souls who did show up were Rangarao Chilukuri, Christy Compeau, David Durbin, Sarah Fly, Lucy Jochum, Christine Jones, Roy Jones, Rick Ogan, Velma Ogan, Jim Raymond, Liz Rappe, Mark Seals, Brenda White, and Chuck White.
The route was to be: the beach, Knickerbocker, Christoval (convenience store turn-around), north on 277, Knickerbocker Road., back to the beach. Things were fine until we started. We learned later that the wind was S 18 with exciting gusts. The wind did not seem to bother some such as David, Mark, Sarah, Brenda, Christy, Rick, Velma, Jim and others, but I noticed it.
We had specific locations to stop and re-group. First Re-Group Stop
After the first tough hill on the road to Knickerbocker some kind person stopped and let some others and me catch up.The little speck of a vehicle is the top of the first hill.
After regaining our wind—speaking for myself--we were about to leave when we saw two lone riders off in the distance. We didn’t think it was any of our group but maybe they would like to join us and draft. Well, it turned out to be Anke White and Kathy Walker. Draft off us? Vice versa if we could stay up with them, but after a few minutes of chat, off they sped.
The reward for enduring the first hill.
The town of Knickerbocker was our feed zone.
If any racers had visions of feed zone chicks passing energy foods and liquids to us as we zoomed by—wrong. Our idea of feed zone is stop, eat, and rest. Jim departed for a separate route and Lucy returned to the beach. I thought, “Smart,” since I have been this route before and we would continue to be in a headwind.
As most cyclists know, after leaving Knickerbocker, the drama is the Seven Sisters, i.e., the thunder and lightening in the analogy.
Some of the Sisters--Maybe not real tough, they just wear you down.
Some of us “dropped off the back” but rode in a group, so I like to think of us as the second peloton. The pulled back leaders and first peloton were patiently waiting for us at the intersection of FM 2335 and Highway 277 outside of Christoval. I had been taking heat from David and others about the original forecast of SSE 12 being so wrong. Therefore, I was chosen to lead the group up the hill, in the wind, and at a reasonable speed as a reminder to be more accurate in the forecasts. I accomplished the first two tasks reasonably well but failed miserably at a reasonable speed. Within the first quarter mile, Rick pulled in front of me and told me to draft off him for a while. I did. And I didn’t want to give up the position. Soon he pulled off to the side indicating that I was to lead again. The group would have none of that as they were in a hurry to get to the convenience store, so one by one they passed me without even a “good lead.” Several had such pleasantries as, “See you at the store.”
As it turns out Lucy had returned to the beach to get her car and preceded us to the Christoval stop and was to be SAG should any one wish/want/need. Turns out to have been an excellent idea. Early in the ride David had discussed a once a month group ride and for different people to take turns being SAG. The rides could be from 50-70 miles and the SAG would have water, bananas, and other conveniences making it an enjoyable ride. Sounded like a good idea and one to be further coordinated. But on this ride, the SAG was to be Lucy, and Dr. Chilukuri chose to join her on the return. Once again he had done a great job after just getting his bike in July.
Highlight (for me) of the ride.
Stomachs full and semi-rested, the joy ride started. The wind that others and I did not previously appreciate was now at our backs and 277 is a comparative decline to San Angelo. It was fun for a while and I even hit 29.6 at one point. Somewhere thereafter I was slowing down; every one started passing me again, and if I were smarter, that would have given me clue one that all was not right. How can you bonk going downhill with the wind?
Thank goodness (for me) Mark had a flat tire just before the Airport turnoff. It gave me an excuse to stop. I was dizzy and not feeling chipper. Chris (my wife) asked me accusingly how much I had had to drink. I lied to her and I said two bottles (really it was 1 ½ but that would not have pleased her). She looked at me and said my lips were blue and took my pulse: 104 after a long stretch in the ride. Too low to get oxygen into my blood stream? She poured water over my head, arms, and legs, and I felt better by the time Mark finished repairing his flat. Another good thing about a SAG; Lucy had her air pump with her and Mark didn’t have to use the small hand pump.
Off we went down the airport road to intersect with Knickerbocker Road. Before we got to the intersection, almost everyone passed me again. Liz pulled beside me and told me to draft off of her. Thanks--I needed that. I mentioned that my left leg was giving me trouble and she said her right knee was hurting. Within 10 pedal strokes, both of my inner thigh muscles knotted and cramped like crazy. This was Joe’s burst of rain and hell, I mean hail. Luckily I was able to unclip before my legs totally froze in big knots. Now I would have been feeling like a wimp right about then except I remembered Anthony Wilson’s writing about a Brady race and Shane’s leg cramping. So if the big boys can cramp, I can too!
Lucy and Doc pulled up behind me and stopped to assist. I couldn’t raise my leg over the bike to get off, so Doc held my bike up and told me to try again. I still couldn’t get my leg over. Eventually, my right leg eased up enough to allow me to dismount. I zombie-walked to Lucy’s car and lifted each leg inside and sat massaging my muscles. Eventually the muscles relaxed enough that the knots went down, and I wasn’t in much pain.
We trailed Liz, who, with hurting knee and about to complete the longest ride of her career, was doing exceptionally well and showed her true colors for sticking it out.
As we were returning, I received helpful hints from Lucy and Rangarao for preventing cramps since I know how, and now you do too, to get cramps. Drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes before, during, and after rides. Lucy drinks pickle juice and a liquid such as Powerade. Take a sports tablet such as Enervit each hour of a ride. Take along energy gel packs (and eat them). I thought I had a good snack at the convenience store: a Twix which has chocolate and fast sugar supply along with a Payday which has a fast sugar supply as well as peanuts which are good for you. A perfect lunch and a bottle of Powerade (of which I drank just a little) to re-stock my one empty bottle.
Upon arrival at the beach, I had recovered enough to do a Charlie Chaplan walk to the truck. One time I had whined about the lack of attention during one of my maladies but when Chris called attention to my blue lips again, suddenly I was surrounded by three nurses (Sarah, Lucy, and Velma) and then my finger tips were checked by a doctor!! It was pronounced that I would live and all concern faded, but I had my moment of attention so all was right with the world.
As I was trying to finish this and evaluate if enough information was passed along to really help a beginner, I remembered that way back at the beginning of this piece I said I keep learning the obvious that experienced riders take for granted. That gave me a sudden inspiration. I would like to invite people to use the comment section below and give other beginners and me your tips on how to prevent cramps or how to treat them once you have them. I for one would certainly appreciate it. In the meantime kids, remember to drink your Ovaltine.