Last Saturday dawned bright, sunny, and cool, but the temps moderated rather rapidly and by noon they were in the lower 70's. I found myself driving north of my hometown of Chisholm in search of some good gravel to ride. The previous two days had seen quite a bit of rainfall and the main roads appeared fairly dry, but some spots were somewhat soft. The minimum maintenance roads were a totally different matter.
I was feeling really tired from the previous week of school and Friday found me up at 4 a.m. finishing packing and then heading to the health club for Grasshopper's spin class. I spent the day teaching and left right from school for the 3.5 hour drive north. Upon my arrival I was feeling really tired, but still stayed up until about 11 p.m.
Saturday morning found me feeling rather sluggish, but non the less anxious to get out and ride some forest roads. My legs were stale and my stomach was somewhat upset. I had a breakfast of french toast, and banana, and some yogurt, along with several cups of coffee. By midway point of my ride I found myself in a somewhat messy situation.
Before hopping on the bike I had a five hour energy shot just to help fend off the tired feeling I was experiencing. My route was fairly simple and easy to navigate providing I stayed on the main roads. I had left the map I intended to use in my school bag back at the house, but I had committed most of the route to memory.
One thing I hadn't anticipated was the enticement of riding the minimum maintenance roads that I kept coming across. Finally temptation gave in and I veered off of the main road and ventured off down one of these minimum maintenance roads. It was wet, soft, difficult going, but I wasn't deterred. After several miles I came back out to the main road and continued on, but signs of what was to come were starting to reveal themselves. Primarily in the form of an upset stomach and some cramping. After two and half hours of riding I stopped to have a couple of gels and drank a rather large amount of the NUUN hydration mix from the bladder I was carrying in my backpack. Within minutes the cramps worsened, but I continued riding and thinking of what I would do if the worst were to happen.
Well, it wasn't long before my thoughts became reality and the cramps became unbearable and I really needed to get off the bike and into the woods in a hurry. Now being in this situation is one thing, but being in this situation with no toilet, and bib cycling shorts is totally another. Not to mention the fact that I had absolutely no TP only a few napkins that for some reason found their way to the bottom of my pack along with my first aid kit. Well, at this point a few napkins was better than nothing. However the worst was yet to come.
After sometime in the woods I was back on the bike feeling somewhat better so I decided to go exploring down another one of the unmaintained roads. It was a mess...oh the irony of the situation. After some miles of wet muddy riding the cramps returned with a vengeance and this time it was truly a crisis situation. I really had to scramble to get off the bike, pack off, jersey off, bibs off...you get the picture. Now I had broken out into the sweats and was feeling somewhat shaky and it was then I realized the futility of my situation. Miles from the car, no TP, miserable and weak, with no cell phone coverage. After crouching there for what seemed like an eternity I realized that I had my arm warmers in the side pocket of my pack. It was a cool start that morning and I had them on for the early part of the ride. Also, I had my trusty multi-tool which I had fortunately found several weeks back.
So I pulled out one of the arm warmers and my multi-tool and began cutting them into pieces so I could clean myself up and get back on the bike. Thank you Pearl Izumi for making such wonderful arm warmers. It was almost as good as using Charmin. This whole procedure had to be repeated two more times by the time I got back to the car.
This was one of the final stretches of road I had to ride before returning to my car which I had parked at one of the trail heads. At this point I was literally out of energy, my legs were dead, and I was feeling really dehydrated. My one bottle of water I had was long gone and I hadn't touched the mixture in my hydration bladder since the first episode.
Now, I am in no way blaming the NUUN for my problems this day. I love the stuff and will always continue to use it. However, it will be in a more diluted form. I think it was just a combination of things that contributed and I feel it was mainly the fact that I had eaten something my stomach was not used to. I always have oatmeal, fruit, and a bagel or English muffin with peanut butter before a long ride. I should have stuck to what my stomach was used to. Thank God it wasn't bratwurst and beer!
Needless to say...after getting back to my parents house I spent a good 45 minutes in the shower and I ran my cycling shorts through the wash three times. After that hosed the bike off as good as I could, but when I got back to our house in the cities I made certain to take it apart and give it a more thorough cleaning. As for those arm warmers...well, I was not a very steward of the earth and it's land. Unfortunately, they were left scattered in pieces throughout the woods of northern Minnesota. Not a very green thing to do I know. From now on I will be carrying a fair amount of toilet paper on rides such as this.
On the bright side of all this is the fact that I had discovered some new territory and was also able to problem solve. Yes, Kenny, at one time I was a Boy Scout. After all...it's a good thing to be prepared.
As I finish this post I find myself in Tofte, MN on the shore of Lake Superior. Looking forward to a weekend of hiking, biking, good companionship, some photography, good food, and maybe a cold one or two. I also have along a brand new pair of Pearl Izumi arm warmers. Have a great weekend!!