A Long Hot Ride
Since I no longer commute to work, keeping the kilometres up has been difficult. There's always something else to do, and the ten kilometres into my one day a week job doesn't cut it. So, I've tended to reserve Thursdays for a long ride, often a 200km loop up to Angaston and back. This can be varied with a side excursion to Sedan, for example, and I've gone south to Victor a couple of times.
Yesterday was hot, forecast to be 39 here at Hillcrest, and 41 at Sedan. I was a bit dehydrated after my 400km day trip to Burra and back, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to test out a slightly different hydration scheme. Normally, I have my GPS set to remind me to drink every fifteen minutes. This is necessary, because by the time we feel thirsty we already have a water deficit, and it's not easy to correct.
Eight o'clock in the Gorge and fifteen degrees. No hint of what was coming!
The River Torrens past Gumeracha
For this trip, I set the alarm to every ten minutes because of the expected weather, and added electrolyte to the water. I used Staminade powder at 1/3 of the dosage on the bottle, though I think that was probably still a bit strong. I drank neat water from Angaston to home. The temperature peaked at 48 degrees during a short stop out from Sedan and sat above 40 for around 70 kilometres. There was just enough head wind to remove flies and lower the temperature a bit. As soon as I began moving, 48 dropped back to 46.
Looping out to Sedan was a good test. It's an undulating climb from the city to the edge of the range out past Mt. Pleasant, and the drop down to the plains was accompanied by a noticeable rise in temperature. After 30km on the hot flats there is then the climb back up Sedan Hill towards Angaston. It starts at Sedan with a gentle 1.5% rise, oscillates around 3.5 - 5 as the main hill starts, and then frequently tops 8%. I saw 10.5% at one point. It's easier than riding back the direct route to Mt Pleasant, as the climb profile indicates, but the only cyclist who starts the climb fresh lives in Sedan.
Lovely shade past Keyneton, but still 40 degrees
I began the day with an indifferent gut, so that in itself was an additional test of the hydration schedule. I still pulled off the 200km in less than twelve hours, if only by a couple of minutes and by virtue of a sprint down the gorge on the way home. Today, I'm pleasantly tired but without any of the symptoms that indicate being overstressed. So, at 68, I'm pleased.
The trouble with really hot weather is that we essentially need to drink hot water all day. It doesn't help the stomach, and I'm not sure that the flavouring in energy drinks helps. Certainly, as someone who has a touch of gastritis, energy drinks are simply too strong and can cause a gut ache. They are made for younger folk who are doing high intensity sport. Touring is less intense. I'll be researching how to create something of my own—sodium and glucose work together, apparently. I'm well used to brackish water, so the flavouring really isn't needed.
Gastritis is a pain, literally, so I need to work around this. I'm finding that "less food is more." I have a couple of small sourdough sandwiches for lunch and tea of these rides, a few dried figs, and carry a few sweet energy bars, although I tend not to use them. My best success has been to make up Anzac biscuits as a slice, which remains moist and is easy to eat. They have a sugar hit—my recipe has a full cup of brown sugar—but also have a low GI component with flour, rolled oats, and shredded coconut (1 cup each.) I use a Topeak trunk bag, and this allows me to carry a small chill bag with a couple of iceblocks. Food stays cool, chocolate doesn't melt, and it's all a lot nicer to eat.
Where I used to wolf food down during a stop, I now tend to eat a lot more slowly while refilling water bottles etc, and this seems to avoid any stomach pain.
How much water? I had three bidons on the frame, and a spare 500 mil emergency bottle in the trunk bag. Leaving Mt Pleasant, 50km, I had drunk 6 bidons full. (There is a useful tap at Cudlee Creek.) By Sedan, this had risen to 10. I grabbed a milk chocolate there, as well as a cookie from Karl's Crazy Kitchen—he's on Facebook. The total at Angaston was 14, and I'd drunk 6 more by the time I arrived home. That's 87km from Angaston. So, roughly 10.5 litres.
Water points on this route.
Cuddlee Creek: tap outside the public toilets.
Gumeracha: tap in the park next to the toilets.
Birdwood: tap at the Liberty Service Station.
Mt Pleasant: the back of the town hall has a tap, and there are excellent toilets close by.
Cambrai: basin water at the public toilets.
Sedan: tap between the petrol bowsers at the Post Office. There is a tap on the back of the public toilets, but that may be recycled water.
Angaston: tap at the Adventure park on the end of the Barossa Bike path.
Eden Valley: basin water at the public toilets.
Finally, a theology joke spotted en route.
What do you do when your neighbours have a passive-aggressive sign in their front yard?
The house next door.
(In CS Lewis' Screwtape Letters, Wormwood is a recent graduate of the devil's training college. This could all be a coincidence, but who calls their house Wormwood. Maybe the owner was a clergy kid. :) )
Andrew Prior (Feb 2023)