One ‘sick’ ride

Map reference: Hotel Oxygen, Rimini, first ride of Bespoke-Velo holiday, 128k, 2,200m, climbing, up to 43 degree heat

Carbs and caffeine: pint of coke and half a sandwich at bar… Who knows where I was. Will try to clarify later

No, I have not adopted my pre-teen son’s language, that would not be coolio at all. This will forever be remembered in my mind as the ride when I felt sick pretty much all the way round. Humidity was 75pc and the temperature peaked at 43 degrees. This is my attempt to slot in the last bit of training before the Etape next Sunday. I’ve done my endurance, I’ve done hill training… now I’ve got to do my heat training. And, frankly it has shaken my confidence. 

I had a spill within 40 minutes. A total school girl error on a gritty descent. Having dissected the moment several times, I think I squeezed the front brake too hard. I should have been on the drops to have more control. Anyway, I fishtailed trying to regain control and did at least get my speed down before the inevitable slide. My right side is pretty road rashed, but there’s only a tiny bit of swelling. Pretty minor stuff although it has made sleeping a bit tricky. Most importantly the bike is ok. And yes, on landing that was the first thing on my mind. The bar tape is torn and there’s a scrape on the pedal. I feel very lucky.

Anyway, as I said, this was the least of my troubles. I am now going to try to describe to you what riding in that kind of heat feels like. The more sensitive among you might want to look away. We had about 15k of flat to get to the hills, and from the first it felt incredibly hot, but from the moment we hit the hills the sickness struck. Incredibly I was actually shivering with heat. Yes, that right, I felt cold. Confusingly, since I was completely wet, on the long descents I was actually cold. So you have to think shivering with cold and shivering with heat until you think you are going to vomit. Truly, I was getting those pre-vomit flushes of cold rising up from my stomach. I held onto my stomach contents, just, but I don’t ever want to feel like that again. This is officially my hardest ride ever. 

My guide, Bealsey, did all he could; chatting, not chatting, asking if I was ok to which I could only reply wretchedly ‘feel sick’. Did I want to stop? ‘No.’ I can only imagine I was a worryingly green colour. We stopped at every single tap along the way. Bless the Italians for having public water available. Bealsey reckons we got through 10 litres each and I worked through a large portion of my holiday stash of hydration tabs. At every water stop we also stopped long enough for me to recover a little. His Strava says we were riding for 6 hours 10 mins of our 7.5 hour ride. We had a proper stop for ‘lunch’. Of course we didn’t feel at all hungry but the coke went down a treat. This is when coke comes into its own. The real thing indeed.

Eventually I staggered back to the hotel room, with bike, road rash… And a great sense of relief.

Note to self: Keep your head straight, you can do it