Monday, August 17, 2009

Catching up

Wow! I'm way behind on my blogging. From the looks of things, my last post was July 20th, and today is August 17th. Almost a full month. I'm surprised all of my regular readers haven't revolted. Regardless, it would appear I've got a fair bit of catching up to do.

To be truthful, I think I've only been on my bike twice now since July 20th. In fact, I was looking this morning at my account on Twitpic, and the day I uploaded the photo proclaiming my success at reaching the 1200km mark was June 27th...50 days ago. Since that milestone, I've only put another 500k in on the bike. Not very impressive after getting off to such a good start for this year. So, let's see what excuses I can come up with for my lack of riding.

Availability of time certainly isn't one. I thought that following my layoff in mid-July I'd get in tons of riding considering that my weekdays are now pretty much wide open. Having said that though, maybe they aren't as wide open as I thought they would be. I've been pretty actively looking for a new job and find that that is taking up a pretty good portion of my days. Not quite sure though why I spend so much time at it. People haven't exactly been lining up to give me an interview, much less a job. Either way, unfortunately my cycling has become a bit of an after-thought at this point.

I can always use vacation as an excuse. My family and I spent about 10 days in St. Charles, MO (just outside St. Louis) visiting my sister-in-law. That accounts for 10 days of no riding, with no access to a bike.

Hot summer temperatures could be used as an excuse too I suppose, although it has been much cooler in Toronto this summer than in previous years. It's really only within the last week that we've had the oppressive temperatures and humidity that we usually have here during the summer months. Being from Newfoundland, riding in scorching heat is not something I'm naturally accustomed to.

That kind of leads me to a recap of my two latest rides. After an 18 days layoff, I hit the road again a week ago Friday for a little run. It wasn't particularly hot that day... mid-20's celsius... but obviously the layoff had a terrible affect on my legs. I was going along great until the 40k mark and then without warning my legs burst into flames on a short but relatively steep hill. By the time I got to the top, cramps had completely taken over and my legs were shot. Unfortunately, I was 40k from home, so I struggled the rest of the way back to finish out at a little over 80k. The next day, I could barely walk.

After another full week off the bike, I set off again yesterday with the Toronto Bicycle Network, looking to do a short 66k run that was posted on their schedule. When I got there however, only 2 other riders were doing that route, so I opted for a bigger group and the longer 84k ride. Turns out though that that group was actually doing a 104k route. Yesterday was blazing hot and humid, so in retrospect, I should have peeled off after about 35k and finished out a shorter ride on my own. But my eyes being bigger than my legs, I stuck with the group to the rest stop at the 65k mark. I was actually starting to fade at about 60k and dropped back a bit, but of course caught up again at the stop.

Some drink, a bite to eat and a reload of my bottles later, we hit the road for the final 40k. It wasn't long though before I knew I was in trouble. I could only manage the pace for about 5k and then at about the 75k mark the first signs of cramping started to appear. I backed way off but it didn't help. Once I start to cramp, that's it for me. I struggled back, fighting off perhaps the worst leg cramps I'd ever had, and must have taken a good hour and a half to finish the last 25k. And that didn't include the stops I had to make when my legs completely seized up. In short, it wasn't pretty. I've always had trouble with cramping as I tend to perspire quite a bit. I even remarked at the rest stop how some of the other riders looked so fresh while I was practically drowning.

I try to drink as much and as often as possible, but there's only so much fluid I can carry. I need about 6 bottle holders on my bike, but that, in addition to looking ridiculous, would make my bike too heavy to ride.

Anyway, I guess the lack of riding lately and the heat did me in this time. Hopefully things will improve, but to be honest, the cramping really takes all the fun out of cycling for me. I think until the fall at least when some cooler temps return, I'm going to have to limit my distances.