Two weeks ago, I went for a 37 mile ride with 1700 ft of elevation gain. It was very pleasant and went well. Yes, I was very tired, but nothing crazy.
I should note that other than the morning I went for my cycle, it rained for most of that weekend.
The following weekend, I hoped to go for another 40 mile cycle, but it was supposed to rain the whole time, so I went for a shorter 25 mile cycle during the best weather-predicted time. I managed to get through it without getting rained on. I canceled on a friend of mine I’d been supposed to cycle with.
Then, this weekend, my friend and I made plans again, for Sunday. The weather forecast was about a 15% chance of rain throughout. It was supposed to be overcast but dry. However, as I drove down to the trailhead, it started to rain lightly – not a good sign. I got down to our meeting spot. My friend had cycled 15 miles to meet me, so I wasn’t going to bail on him. So, we headed out into the rain.
Now cycling versus running in the rain is a totally different ball game. Typically, I run at about 6 mph – 10 minutes a mile. On flats, I cycle at around 15 mph. On downhills, I easily hit 25 mph. On yesterday’s ride, for example, my max speed was 32 mph, even though I tried to keep my speed down due to concerns about my brakes not working well in the rain, and visibility being poor. Even at 15 mph, you’re getting A LOT wetter than at 6 mph, and when you build up speed to 20 or 25 mph or so on the downhills, you just get so wet from light rain that wouldn’t be a huge problem at slower speeds.
15% chance of rain. But it just kept raining and raining and raining. And I kept getting wetter and wetter and colder and colder. The temperatures were in the low 50s, but again, when you’re hitting 15 to 20 mph half the time, the wind makes it feel much colder. Furthermore, because I got even colder whenever we stopped, I really wasn’t taking in enough calories. One thing I’ve learned in the last few years about endurance sports is the value of taking in calories during longer exercise, especially anything longer than 2 hours. Even between 60 and 120 minutes, there’s a lot of value in taking in calories, but you’re not going to crash without it; your performance will probably be reduced. But beyond 2 hours, you can really get hit by exhaustion if you’re not taking in enough calories. I usually drink gatorade or Nuun (the type with calories, not just electrolytes) and eat Kind bars during my cycles. I drink as I cycle, and I’ll drink a lot and have some bites to eat every time I stop at an intersection or for a photo or whatever. But we just weren’t stopping, mostly due to my preference.
My friend wasn’t having nearly as many problems as me. He cycles in the rain regularly and I guess he’s got his attire dialed in. He actually cycled 70 miles in total. I think that would have put me in the hospital with hypothermia. He probably has 30 pounds on me, maybe 40 – so that helps. But part of it is just the way I am made. I have trouble retaining heat in general. And wearing the right clothes would help.
In any case, we did finish the ride.
Afterwards, I got back in my car fairly quickly, and cranked the heat to the maximum for the entire drive home. I was still freezing after the 25 minute drive. I went straight upstairs and started a hot shower and still just couldn’t warm up, even standing in the hot shower. So I filled a bath with hot water, and after sitting in the bath for some time, I was finally able to stop shivering. A cup of hot tea left me feeling fairly normal temperature-wise. I reflected on the fact that it must have been awful trying to warm up in the old days when you didn’t have hot water on tap. I think heating yourself from the inside out – like with tea – is probably the way to go. I should have started with a hot drink.
After all that, I still felt exhausted and depleted. I think that my body probably expended a lot of energy not only on the 40 mile cycle, but trying to keep me warm. Plus the whole not enough calories thing I think didn’t help. I was pretty much ravenous for the rest of the day. Also, I had been planning to take B to a playdate that afternoon, and H had to do it, which wasn’t ideal given that he’d already watched the kids all morning while I cycled.
In summary, I really wish it would warm up and stop raining out here.