Monday, September 14, 2009

Trans Pyrenees Challenge, Stage 2: Quivering Thighs

For those of you who are addicted to this blog, and have been reading and rereading, you'll have noticed that yesterday's ride profile somehow was deleted. This is the picture that makes all my words unnecessary so I'm reposting it below to remind you of the Rat Panat (Hanging Bat) that was not attempted.

So you might think the TPC is already diminished, a travesty and a sham, that I should be banging on Peter Thomson's hotel door demanding a refund, dooming this trip to even deeper losses begun by one Paul Triolo and his hip shot to the heart of said Peter. However, I shouldn't and won't because today's demon stage 2, a rat bastard, made up for the Rat Panat in spades. I went on the A ride again, which was a no-brainer not because I think I'm fast or expect to win the King of the Mountain jersey, but because it left the hotel after the B and C rides and offered 30 minute more sleep. The profile below doesn't convey the true difficulty.

It doesn't have any isosceles triangles like you see with the major climbs. Instead the difficulty was in the pace, the lack of any merciful stops and the altitude gain. 90 miles, 9000 vertical feet with a 15-18% 1 mile godless demon for gods' sake! (also known as a wee bump as Peter Thomson likes to call it in his Scottish accent)
We went fast, so fast that we reeled in the C ride within the first 40 km despite losing 10 minutes to a flat tire early on, and the B ride by 100 km. By the end I was done, and now must see whether I can recover in time for tomorrow's ride. Also a 9 hour harangue. So far nothing hurts. I just am tired at the end, having trouble shoveling in the 6-7000 calories I'm burning. Sleep is also not good, and I have trouble waking up on time because hotels in Spain don't have clocks. In fact I can' find any public space in Spain with clocks. Since this statement is now in the public domain I'm expecting thousands of Comments listing the places where I can find a clock in Spain, but no matter, there isn't one in my hotel room and that's where I need it. In fact if you ask for a wake up call it may or may not happen. So I wind up using my amazing ability to sense time to wake up in time for the ride. I noticed two other oddities today, both during the ride. First we road as I said 90 miles, but without seeing a single body of water, not a lake, stream or river. Second, with all the countryside we passed through I never saw a barnyard animal. We smelled pigs but never saw them. This is not meant in any way to criticize Spain, or more precisely Catalan, which is the autonomous region of Spain we are riding through. It's just ODDDDDD! By the way, Catalan is very autonomous. The language of instruction in schools is Catalan, not Spanish, which is very different, sort of like Italian to Spanish. I know how to read Spanish but didn't recognize most Catalan words. Here's another oddity: you know American riders drink gallons of Gatorade and other sports drinks and eat those nasty power bars on long rides, or even short rides? It hasn;t caught on in europe. They drink water on rides. You can't find sports drinks in stores. This has me concerned since I've always assumed that the reason I hadn't dropped dead during a century is because I had flooded my system with Gatorade. Now that I'm back to bare bones H20 this could be a deal breaker. How do I know what and how much to substitute? Pray for me. Today I threw down a few Enduralytes, courtesy of PT, to whom I owe much incuding my nice single room and being here in the first place, but how do I know what is the right dose. I've been keeping a close eye on my thighs for signs of fasciculations, hoping to forestall cramps with a quick capsule or two. Unfortunately, this not being my practice, I forgot to bring baggies, so the Enduralyte capsules sit naked in my back jersey pocket dissolving in the sweat I produce before I administer them systemically.

I have no photos to share today, because 1. my camera has run out of power and I forgot my cord and 2. we never went slow enough or stopped long enough to take pictures. Maybe this will change. There are 25 guys on the ride, mostly in their 40's and 50's I would say, but it's tough to tell since they're all so incredibly fit. The guy I sat next to at dinner tonight is a 56 y/o (sound familiar) OB/GYN with a busy practice in Cincinnatti who has done 7 full length Ironman Triathlons since 2005! A lot of interesting and extreme stories here. There are at least 7 doctors and we have fun at dinner talking health care policy. I was trying to sell them tonight on my biological doom theory, which holds that no matter how you organize health care costs will always skyrocket as a function of more people living longer lives with higher expectations for quality of life. We have to all be willing to suffer a little, like on this ride, and die a little earlier and have smaller families to keep the Chinese purchasing our bonds. Hate to be pessimistic or simplistic, but I think the biology is the driver here.

I need to put me and this blog to rest. Tomorrow's a big day. I don't ever do this kind of exertion two days in a row so I'm heading into uncharted waters with uncertain outcome. This alone should keep you glued to my blog, although I must warn you it could be my last for reasons other than what you think: we're heading into remotes parts of the Pyrenees, where hotels are not good and connectivity is iffy. If it is my last, and if we do meet again I will fill you in on all the details you missed, if in fact you miss them.
Hasta luego from Solsona, Spain


Lance said...

Wow. How fast does the C group go. I would go with C next. I have do many questions. Are they providing adequate food during ride? Don't they carry Gatorade? How long were you out on the 90 miler? Brownie, you are doing a heckuva job do far, but no need to do A every day! Please keep up the blogging!

George said...

Sounds like you need to ride "within yourself" to finish the week with a good feeling, or with any feeling at all. I second Lance's recommendation to dial back to the B or C group, at least to see if it's a better fit. I can't believe Thomson's can't arrange for a simple wake up call, like a knock on the door, as part of its service. Maybe you can purchase a packet of Gatorade mix to stir into your water. Really enjoying your posts, especially given the fatique, but can you hear us groan?

Clare said...

I am so glad to have your hilarious thought process on record. Sorry, i have no input on clocks in spain, but you are probably the only person who I would trust to wake up on time and not be left behind in the middle of the Pyrenees. If you have your american cell phone it should work as an alarm, or, what do you know, I tested it out and it works, as long as you have internet.
My bike is my new best friend! I've been riding it all around town, got some top notch safety equipment, including a high quality helmet :) Can't wait to ride with you!
Now go forth and conquer that beast of a mountain range! But really, stop if you're close to death!

Carolyn said...

Beware hyponatremia! Get your electrolytes in somehow!