Then the first of my problems began. At about the 20k mark, I started to develop a stitch and that made it very difficult to find a good breathing rhythm. Unfortunately, the next 20k were pretty much uphill and into a pretty stiff headwind, so I couldn’t shake it. It wasn’t until a turn at the 40k mark and a slight downhill respite that the stitch finally dissipated and I got back into a comfortable cadence. Because of my stitch though, I didn’t feel like drinking a lot, which is where my real trouble began.
Over the next 15-20k, I finished off bottle #1 and was just starting bottle #2. I took one sip from #2, but as I went to put it back into its cage, it slipped from my fingers and starting skittering along the pavement. I glanced back just in time to see a guy about 5 lengths behind me go right over top of it. Fortunately for him, he hit it square and the pressure of his wheel popped the top allowing the bottle to collapse. It could have easily taken him down and that could have been messy. He actually apologized for crushing my bottle, but I told him I was just glad he didn’t take a spill. I couldn’t care less about the bottle.
At the rest stop, I reloaded on liquids, had a bite to eat and drank as much as I could. After a good half hour break though, back on the bike I still had nothing. I stayed with a couple of other riders for a bit, but as soon as we hit the first real hill, I was done. They were gone and there was no way I could muster any kind of strength to stay in touch. And the worst was yet to come.
This particular route returns back south towards Toronto on Weston Road, which has a hill that is affectionately known as The Weston Wall. If I had to guess, I say this hill climbs about 9000ft in probably about a half a kilometer (OK…that’s a gross exaggeration, but you get my point). With nothing in the tank I had no choice but to stop halfway up and try to recover a bit. After a 10 minute break, I jumped back on and forced myself over the top, but that pretty much finished me off. The next 15k, it was all I could do to turn the pedals. I spotted a convenience store and running low on drink again, decided I better pull over and reload. As soon as I stepped off the bike, both of my legs completely knotted up. I managed to struggle myself to a sitting position on the sidewalk, and after about 10 minutes my legs had loosened enough that I could once again stand. I wobbled my way into the store and grabbed a Gatorade for the roughly 25k still to go. During my stop, another rider from our original group showed up at the store, so we finished out the ride together. The rest was pretty much all downhill and with the exception of a few minor cramps was relatively easy. I was indescribably glad to see the parking lot and the end of a 4h45 (riding time), 115.7k disaster.
It was one of those days that I just couldn’t wait to get off the bike, and it’s clear that I bit off more than I could chew. I hadn’t been on my bike in 8 days and I obviously wasn’t ready for the distance. And once you start to get dehydrated, it’s pretty much all over, at least for me. The only good news is that I’m now just over 80k from my goal for year.