Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Last Friday morning at sunrise, my wife and I joined over 400 cyclists on a journey from Miami to Key West. This is the fifth year we have made the 165 mile trek and by far it was the hardest.
SmartRide is a charity event that raises money for those suffering with HIV/Aids. This year we raised 1.1 million dollars and that will be distributed to seven organizations, all in Florida. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to the charities. In fact, as a rider, I will decide where 50% of the money I raised goes.
It is a great event and the need is even greater. However, for the purpose of this blog, I would like to focus on the health aspects of the ride.
Typically, we train for 3-4 months prior to the ride. That involves a long ride each weekend and a couple of spinning classes during the week. We start with a 26 mile ride as a base and build from there. By the time the ride is over, we’ve ridden over 1500 miles in preparation for the event.
This past year, I tried to ride offseason as well and was able to log an additional 1000 miles on the bike. Our base began with a 40 mile ride, rather than 26, and we fared better than most riders during the event.
For the past four years, the ride was difficult for the first 50 miles as we work our way south and east to Key Largo against a strong head wind. However, once we made the turn west on Card Sound Road, that head wind became a tail wind and carried us all the way to Key West.
The forecast for this year was much the same, a strong northeast breeze to push use along the overseas highway. However, the wind stayed strong from the west over both days of the ride.
We trained in the wind because it is hard to avoid. However, we always try to ride into the wind first and ride the wind home when we are tired. Our training rides are typically up and down A1A right along the coast so we can modify the ride to adapt to the weather.
Riding in the wind puts additional stress on the knees. You have to work harder and there is a greater tendency to push with the quadriceps and not pull as much with the hamstrings. Cramping of the legs becomes a common issue as fatigue sets in. By the time we reached 80 miles, many riders had their knees wrapped in kinesiotape to reduce the stress and pain.
Both days were warm and virtually cloud free. Many riders became dehydrated. Seven riders were placed on IV solutions as a result of dehydration and many were swept from the course, unable to continue.
Once the ride was over we lounged in Key West for the remainder of the weekend. The riders were easy to identify as they struggled to get out of a chair, or limped painfully down Duval Street.
Although I did find the ride difficult, I was not really sore. In fact, in years past, I typically would be sore for a day or two, but not this year. I believe my continued riding throughout the year was of great benefit.
My nutritional support is also superior. I use an effervescent calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C powder in one of my water bottles to replace electrolytes rather than Gatorade. I also took Boswellia as an anti-inflammatory herb rather than the NSAIDS they were handing out at the medical tent.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
SmartRide is a great event for a great cause, but training, preparation, and good nutrition are the keys to a successful ride. Find some exercise that is engaging and establish a goal, like an event, that will motivate you to continue when you feel like quitting. The health benefits are just the beginning.