Monday, September 29, 2008

Six Cramp

2008 Six Gap Century: I felt pretty good early on. The Black Mountain rollers and the Neels climb went fine. I caught up with some Macon riders somewhere near the Apple store. I stayed within sight of them up Jacks even though they pulled away a little bit. I started to feel an unusual twinge in my hamstrings at the bottom of the climb, but it went away pretty quickly so I forgot about it.

I was out of water already at the top of Jack's (unusual for me), so I stopped quickly to fill up both bottles. I jumped in a fast little group and caught the Macon group on the long, gradual descent. As we turned the corner and started climbing Unicoi, I got sudden painful cramps in both hamstrings. I’ve never had cramps, so I didn’t know how to handle the situation. I mentioned it to Drew and he just said "wine" (I had done a bike tour of wineries on Saturday).

I stayed on the bike, standing and sitting until the pain eased a little. The Macon guys pulled away up the climb. Once I worked out the cramps and got back into my rhythm I felt fine. I passed a few folks on the climb and felt good by the time I reached the top. I caught Drew at the bottom of the Unicoi descent and we rode in a group of 6 or 8 to the Hogpen turn. As I approached the right turn to Hogpen my hammies locked up completely. It was both strange and intense. I've had cramps off the bike sitting on the sofa, but not on the bike. I couldn’t turn the pedals - now I know what people mean when they say "my legs locked up." If we’d been on a climb I guess I’d have fallen off the bike. I worked it out again and caught back to Drew’s group just as they crossed the timing wire to start Hogpen.

I had very little power climbing Hogpen - on a few sections I was climbing just fast enough to stay upright and was kicking myself for not putting on the 12-29 pansy cassette (I rode a 12-26). Just after the first ‘false downhill’ on Hogpen, my hamstrings locked up again. It hit me fast and I yelled so loud that I scared the crap out of two guys riding beside me who had entered a silent Zen state. This time I couldn’t coast, so I laid down in the grass on my back and massaged the knots out. The pain stopped after a minute or two. The rest of the climb hurt some, but the cramps did not come back. At the top of Hogpen I took an Advil, two race caps, drank about a gallon of water, refilled my bottles, and scarfed down a bunch of PB&Js and apples. I cramped some on the descent, but they gradually went away by the time I reached the base of the Wolfpen climb. I climbed it pretty slowly but faster then Hogpen. I felt better by the time I got to Woody, and then limped home solo on rollers that felt much bigger than they really were; finishing time 6:07.

Next year I’ll chase every glass of wine on Saturday with a glass of water. It had to be the dehydration. I ate and drank everything in sight for the next 12 hours and still only weighed 147 pounds the next morning (after weighing about 150 on Friday). I’d bet I weighed just barely over 140 at the top of Hogpen. I drank 8 bottles on my bike plus several cupfuls of Gatorade at the Hogpen stop and didn’t stop for a single nature break. Live and learn.


Anonymous said...

Ouch! Your story hurts to listen! Please check out Hammer Nutrition (.com). Combinations of Endurolytes, Heed, Hammer Gel, Perpetuem - all with easy-carry options, can give your story a happy ending. I've used them for years. (no, I don't work for them..!). Michael (rode up Hogpen yesterday, too...).

Robert Jordan said...

I'm already a big fan of Hammer Nutrition products. Hopefully the cramps were a one-time thing so I won't have to stock up on Endurolytes.