Sunday, February 6, 2011

Definition of stupidity: 160km cycle on a 42-degree day

So the training plan required us to cycle 180km today - our biggest ride for the build up ahead of our taper, the 2-4 week winding down that happens before the big race to allow the body to absord the training and mend itself.

Brekky in the morning before our ride: trying not to think about how many of these goodies on the table we'll have to eat.
We knew it was going to be a hot one: what we didn't know was that it was going to reach 42 degrees (plus).

On this popular and scenic cycling route along the Old Pacific Highway, from Hornsby to Calga via the "big dipper" at the Hawesbury River, we'd usually see groups of cyclists and dozens of motorcyclists drawn here by the notorious twists and turns - and the two cafes along the way where you can eat (pie for the bikers, energy bar or gel for the cyclists) and drink (coffee for the bikers, gatorade for the cyclists) and ogle at each other's bikes (Hondas and Ducatis vs Cervelos and Meridas). It's usually a bike show, week in and week out.

This baby doesn't lie: the temperature over 7 hours of riding.

This is what our goodies turned into. Normally jube-like lollies, they melted into a slimy gunk.

Today it seemed that everyone had the sense to stay home or hang out at their local air-conned Westfield.
Except for us and the 4 other cyclists we saw along the way (2 of them also in training for IMNZ). The cafes were empty.

The other was a girl who was sitting in the gutter, almost passed out but with a huge grin shining through her beetroot-red face as she yelled out "Are we CRAZY?!" to both of us as we passed her at different times (we were riding by ourselves today, to get used to doing it on race day).

The other was a 70-year old man who was on a 200km ride, and therefore was officially crazy.

But it was the heat that got us in the end. Within metres of pedalling off we were already sipping on our bidons (our bikes have capacity for 2 at a time, so we need to refill each time we can), a wall of heat accompanying us the whole way as it warmed up our bidons to the point where we couldn't drink the contents. Luckily the cafes are spaced perfectly apart (about 20km) so that we'd be refilling our empties constantly (we drank 18 bidons each, plus countless cokes and icecreams - about 12 or 13 litres of fluids).

Touching the handlebars was like getting into a car on a hot day and almost burning yourself when you grab the seatbelt. We were both talking to ourselves, singing out loud to take our minds off the heat and even cursing it - also out loud.

Simi had a meltdown (literally), sat in the gutter under a tree for a mini break, checked the temp on her iPhone (40 degrees) and had a good cry. Both of us experienced periods of delirium throughout the 7 hours, not knowing whether we were going up or down a hill, or even not knowing where we were and where we were going.

In the end we cut our day short (after 7hrs we still hadn't reached 180km). Even the stubborn pair of us knew it was pushing it to stay out there longer.

Simi 'rescued' me at 160kms. I was thankful for this because the cafes were all closing (taking the free water supply with them!). She later told me she was going to puncture my tyres if I didn't get in the car.
So we enjoyed our well-earned reward that we'd both been dreaming about all day: a HUGE frozen coke from Macca's, accompanied by large fries (for the salt replenishment) and a big Angus burger. According to our watches we burned almost 5,000cal on the ride - so no-one can tell us we didn't earn it!

Delirium had long since set in. We were excited about our frozen cokes, only minutes away by car.

Here's what the Telegraph said:

Yesterday, Australia's biggest city resembled a ghost town as the mercury hit 42C, the hottest in a week of 35 degree-plus days - the longest such spell on record.

The scorching heat forced the city's four million residents indoors, leaving parks, playgrounds, the harbour, beaches and even public pools sparsely populated on the hottest day so far this summer.

For most, it was simply too hot to try to cool down outside. There was no escape from the relentless heat anywhere outdoors. It reached 41.5C in the city, 42.2C at Sydney Airport and 40.7C at Penrith. Sydney's maximum was just short of its hottest February day on record, 42.1C, in 1926.

Greater Sydney and the lower Hunter were the hottest parts of NSW. Williamtown, north of Newcastle, recorded the State's highest maximum of 43C.

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