The human body is a funny thing. I say this as sit here with my legs burning and my back spasming. A very funny thing, indeed.
Today I did a ride not unlike the others I have been doing for the last six Wednesdays. I stretched the mileage out a bit, but only an extra five miles or so. I rode a little harder this week, but not that much harder. I also rode the night before and probably didn't hydrate very well afterwards. I also lost a good portion of my fuel somewhere during the ride. All or some or none of these things contributed to some of the worst cramps I have ever experienced toward the end of the ride.
Everything started well enough. I set off from the truck on my single speed with 100 ounces of water in the CamelBak, two packs of GU, and water bottle filled with Accelerade sports drink. The morning was cool, which was nice after the seemingly endless string of hot rides this summer. I felt good and clicked off the first 10 miles easily and quickly. Same for the next 10.
Somewhere after that halfway point I reached down for my energy drink and it was gone. It had ejected and I hadn't noticed. I didn't even take a single sip. No worries; I had a packet of GU and kept going.
At the 30-mile mark I had the second GU and figured I had plenty in the tank for the last 10 miles back. I took a sip out of the CamelBak to wash down the GU and came up empty. I had downed 100 ounces of water in 30 miles.
I stopped at Beal's Point for a sip of water from a fountain, and it tasted horrible. Really bad. I opted not to put any in the CamelBak, which might have been kind of dumb.
At around mile 35 the cramps started. At first they weren't too bad, just some twinges in the quads. By mile 38 I was in full cramp mode. I had them in my triceps, quads, groin and calves. It was awful. I couldn't pedal in the saddle without cramping so I stood up for the last couple miles, pedaling a few strokes at a time and coasting. If I kept my knees locked I could keep the cramps at bay. This is not the preferred method of pedaling a bike, and I'm sure more than a few people who passed me in the final stretch wondered what the hell was wrong with me. "I saw this guy today, and I think he crashed and jammed a log up his ass."
When I made it back to the aquatic center I made a bee-line for a water fountain and drank for a solid two minutes. As I rode away I could hear the water sloshing in my stomach.
In the end I got the 40 miles I wanted, but it hurt. I hope it was just an anomaly since I have a 50-mile race on the horizon that will be much tougher than this little ride.