(The app I use to map out my rides was acting wonky. It missed the last 5 miles of my ride, and didn't record correctly in the beginning. Still, this is the route, more or less.)
It actually ended up being a "46" states ride for me, since I skipped the last 5 miles of the route (and rode the 5 miles home instead).
The day started out perfect. It was warm, but not too warm. Sunny & not humid. I had a good breakfast, filled my water bottle and threw a bag of dried dates in my bag for a snack. Lots of riders gathered at the starting area. Betty received many compliments, and I couldn't wait to get started. We were given our cue sheets, and I probably should have been worried when it was 4 pages (double-sided) long!
The first 2 hours were a lovely breeze. The course was relatively flat and scenic, winding downtown and around the monuments. There were a few places I narrowly missed a turning, but I managed to get back on track. I even caught a quick history lesson from a fellow rider around the Tidal Basin area. I never caught her name, but she was a
Oh, if only I could have bottled that feeling!
The next segment of the ride was more challenging. Whoever designed this part of the route is a masochist, because there were some pretty long and steep hills back to back! Betty was not happy. She can do steep hills (slowly) and she can do long hills, but steep AND long? Nope. At one point I had to walk her up the last part of a hill because no matter how hard I mashed down on the pedals, the cranks wouldn't turn. Being a 50lbs 3-speeder has its drawbacks.
It also didn't help that the temperature was quickly rising. According to the weather report, it reached a high of 93 degrees. At the end of September, that's insane! This part of the ride became a blur in my memory of miserably climbing hills and fun downhills. Before I knew it, the lunch stop at Eastern Market was before me! I was super thirsty, but not very hungry. I refilled my water bottle and grabbed an ice-cold lemonade to go. I had a few bites of my lunch burrito (which was delicious), but I was getting too hot to feel hungry. I didn't want to end up throwing it up on the route.
The next segment of the ride was much slower for me. I was really feeling the heat and it was a *long* way before the next rest stop. There was a small group of riders that seemed to stop and wait for me every so often. I'm not sure if they did that on purpose or not, but I'm still grateful to have had some company at that point.
Right around the 50 mile mark, I began to fall apart. I was nauseous, over-heated and beginning to become disoriented. I could feel the salt on my skin. I knew I was losing too much sodium, and fears of hyponatremia* began to take root in my mind.
I barely made it to the final rest stop (which was packed up and gone by the time I got there). I had to stop several times and sit to avoid vomiting along the way. I knew I was in bad shape. I kept taking wrong turns and by the time I got to the rest stop area, I knew it would be stupid to try and finish the route. I was 5 miles short.
Instead, I turned Betty towards home and rode (very slowly) the 5 miles back to my place. Once I cooled off in some air-conditioning and gulped down some gatorade, I started to feel better. I took a quick cat nap and had a giant burger & fries as a celebratory meal (riding for 7 hours will make a girl hungry!)
So, even though I didn't officially hit all 50 states, I still consider it a success. My cyclometer read 66.6 miles rode that day!
Next year I think I will either use Betty to do the 13 Colonies ride, or use a "regular" bicycle for the full 50 states ride. I will also pack more snacks and water/gatorade! The water stops were spaced very far apart, and despite being in DC, the ride went through mostly residential areas and there was little opportunity to buy additional water & food on the ride. Also, hopefully the temperature will be more comfortable too.
Thank you, WABA, for another fun bike event!
* A friend died 5 years ago from hyponatremia while on a bike ride. Hyponatremia was a condition that was still relatively unheard of, and his fellow riders mistook it for dehydration and encouraged him to drink more water. By the time they recognized he was in severe distress and an ambulance was called, he was already slipping into a coma. I am keenly aware of the dangers of hyponatremia and how quickly it can set in. It's just as important to get that sodium in as it is water! That's why I was getting worried when I could feel the salt on my skin. It meant I was losing sodium at a rapid rate.
|I love riding over bridges|
|The Big Chair|
I have a video of the ride too, but I'm still editing it. I will post it as soon as its done.