Tomorrow, with temperatures here in New England expected to reach 90+ degrees, I try to stay hydrated, full of electrolytes and may even down some pickle juice all in an attempt to keep leg cramps at bay as I do the annual Harpoon Brewery to Brewery (B2B) ride. The roughly 8 hour ride, which begins at the South Boston Harpoon brewery, ends some 150 miles later at Harpoon’s other brewery in Windsor VT. While there is no beer in route, Harpoon does treat us well once we get to Windsor with a big celebratory BBQ and of course, beer.
This will be my fourth year and is one of the highlights of summer for me. Unfortunately, in each of that last three B2Bs that I have done, my legs have cramped up something fierce at about mile 120 or so. I’ve always managed to “pedal-thru” the cramp but damn it hurts. This year I have a three-prong strategy to avoid cramps:
1) Be sure to stay hydrated. I’ll have 2 lg bottles on the bike and plan to have those drained at least 3-5 miles before a given refueling stop.
2) Constantly be munching on “Clif Blocks.” Packages of these are handed out at every refueling stop. What I do is take a couple of packages, open them up and then tuck them under the legs of my shorts, that way I can easily dislodge one, put it into my mouth without having to reach into back pocket. These Clif Blocks have a lot of electrolytes packed into them – perfect on a hot day.
3) Don’t linger at the refueling stop. I ride with my club in a fairly large group which is fine at the beginning but as we hit mile 75, mile 90, etc., the pack really starts to break-up. I am typically one of the first to arrive at a given stop and then have to wait for others to arrive. Unfortunately, some of those waits can extend to 30-40min before we roll again. While I roll into the rest stop fine, when we get back on our bikes to roll, my legs seize. Sorry boys, this year I’m doing it differently – love to ride with you but love even more the thought of no cramps.
Now I’m really not sure how many vistors of this predominantly healthcare IT site actually ride a bike or for that matter have done long rides such as this one I am about to embark upon. If you have not done a longish ride (say more than 30 miles) I strongly encourage you to give it a try. The bicycle truly is one of humanity’s finest inventions and being out on a bike for a couple of hours truly opens up your senses to the beauty of this planet we call home.
Now if we could only find a way for a broader cross-section of the populace to get out and ride their bikes to do errands, to get to work, etc., who knows, maybe catastrophes such as the one currently happening in the Gulf of Mexico would be less likely.