First desert over, into the mountains, first week TransAmerica cycling done

Riding Los Angeles to Flagstaff has been an amazing cycling experience, but the heat in the desert in the first few days felt like riding in an oven. Fitness alone will not carry you though 80+ miles a day for multiple days in 110+ degree heat. I’ve cycled in Cambodia but never had heat like it in the Mojave Desert. I estimate I was drinking at least 4litres of fluid every 25 miles. could not have got all the fluids without vehicle support. Came close to heat exhaustion on one occasion recovering with a quart of chilled chocolate milk. Have drank gallons of Gatorade.

Getting enough food even in America has been a problem for me. With my recently relaxed adjustable gastric band I still do not like food and do not want to eat. But, from a performance standpoint, the essential metric for caloric intake is that you need to consume enough energy to support your activity level. I guess i’m using over 6000 calories a day but the effects of altitude and heat may have made this much greater. I do not think I have gone anaerobic at any point. The road gradients are never much more than 6% but the climbs can be 12 miles. When you fail to eat enough, you’re compromising your ability to recover from the cycling, you’re increasing your risk for getting sick, increasing your vulnerability to injury, and hindering your ability to adapt to your training workload and get stronger (Chris Carmichael). What I have also learnt is that you have to eat today for what you’re planning on doing tomorrow. That means pre-loading your energy stores daily with hearty breakfasts before big rides, so you stand a better chance of mitigating the energy depletion from today. On the ride, you have to stay on top of energy/fluid/electrolyte intake, so you minimise the stress you put on your body today and reduce the amount/extent of recovery you’ll need to be able to perform again tomorrow. As I am doing so many days riding over six weeks I have less than 24 hours to recover before another big ride. If I dig too deep a hole, I may not be able to refill it in time. This happened today on the final ride into Flagstaff when for the last 15 miles I had to take a bump as I had run out of energy and bonked. I always thought that this was going to be the toughest week with first the desert, then the climb into the Rockies. The worst is now over and the rides are easier but none less long. I have been thinking a lot about correct food and nutrition and think I am now on top of this but still mentally do not want the food. It will be interesting to see if I need to get my gastric band retightened when I come home. Controlling core temperature in the desert was very important wearing white arm sleeves and then cooling these with water.

I got a nasty blister on my palm from the hoods and am now wearing different gloves. Thanks to Compeed blister plasters. Not too saddle sore but have invested in a green leather Brooks saddle like I have on my Brompton at home that always been very comfortable compared to the cheap narrow racing saddle I have on my Scott.

Unfortunately did not win the $600million USA lottery tonight. Rest day tomorrow so off on a tourist trip with Catherine to the Grand Canyon.

 

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4 thoughts on “First desert over, into the mountains, first week TransAmerica cycling done

  1. tony hill

    Enjoy flagstaff and the rest day. Your assessment is good. The toughest part is over, however there are some challenges ahead.

  2. David Galloway

    Impressed Chris. Truly awesome experience and effort. Will watch with interest. Best wishes to you both. Enjoy the GC – spectacular.

    1. ollie9999 Post author

      Riding with an epic group of cyclists. Now through the Rockies and descending though high dessert today. Have had some altitude sickness and with leg oedema I developed some cellulitis. Now improving with antibiotics and diuretics. Decision to completely realise gastric band was correct. I could never have drank enough fluid or eat enough food.

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