Chatter, a blog friend if mine, in a recent post brought up a new problem for him that confounded me once before. Hydration. If you don’t stay hydrated when exercising you’re done for. In fact, I know a guy who used to brag about “pissing crystals” after a long ride. Well now that he’s a little older, he tried that on a 45 mile ride a while back and passed out. On his bike. He hurt himself but thankfully just enough to wake him up.
Rookies and noobs might get the impression that if you just drink a lot of water and you’ll be okay. This is an oft made mistake. You read that last sentence correctly, a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, water is good but it’s not complete. There’s more to it than just H2O.
Which brings up another blog friend’s recent post about another problem I ran into very early into cycling (but after I’d been running for a decade with no trouble). The post centered on how she recently found out that Propel is nothing more than flavored water. The other side to this coin is electrolytes. Cycle long enough and fast enough and you will burn through your body’s store (I can go through my reserves in as little as five hours). Where I went astray is that I was just drinking water… Not only did I deplete my “reserves”, by drinking a lot of water I diluted what little I had left.
Therein lies the rub my friends, and where this gets really fun is that I absolutely LOVE water when I’m cycling – and this is about the only time that I really enjoy it.
So, here’s what happens when I don’t use some kind of electrolyte replacement solution: First, I bonk a little bit. While it hurts, I can push through this to an extent and maintain some composure and most of my speed. The downside is, it sucks and hurts quite a bit. Next up is cramps, and not just little baby cramps, we’re talking about legs start locking up cramps. Now, I’ve only gotten to the cramps one time – I learned my lesson after that.
Point is folks, it’s summer time. It’s getting hot, so please… Take your hydration seriously:
Butt remember, while water is awesome, you need the electrolytes too.
I am meticulous about the maintenance on my Venge. It is cleaned on the outside every week. The drivetrain (including the derailleurs) is completely is cleaned and re-lubed every other week (keep in mind, I put in enough miles to warrant a chain cleaning every other week – 350-400 miles). I even take the crank assembly apart once every month or two to clean and relube it (it’s quite easy, takes about 15 minutes from start to finish). The bike, with no exceptions, looks showroom new after almost a full year and 5,000 miles on it. In fact, I’ve taken great pride in how good it still looks after all of that use. It also helps that it’s never seen rain (a few drops, yes, but I ride my Trek if a chance of rain above 20% is in the forecast). In other words, my Venge only sees the best of road conditions.
As I wrote in a previous post, I had my bike in for a yet unknown mechanical problem (clicking in the drivetrain) and when the mechanics started running out of ideas to pin the cause on they took the headset apart:
I’ve never done this, on any of my bikes because A) I didn’t know that it had to be done and B) I didn’t know how. After all, the whole steering assembly is sealed, no? Well no, it isn’t as it turns out. According to one of the shop’s main mechanics, the top was clean but the bottom was quite caked with road dust. I apologized and explained that I had no idea I would have to do that, then asked how to do it. I almost wish I’d hit YouTube first… The threadless headsets are so easy to take apart (at least the part that has to be cleaned and re-lubed), it’s slightly ridiculous.
Basically, you take off the stem cap, then the stem and the fork comes right out. You wipe it down, lube it back up and you’re good to go. That’s it. Well, thankfully with cycling I’m always learning something new. At least it keeps things interesting.
So, for those who wish, here are a couple of YouTube “How To” videos: