Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DNF - the 2010 Grafton to Inverell

Can anyone overdose on electrolytes? This is my only guess because everything else for the 50th Grafton to Inverell was done very close to what I have planned.

After months and months of training (about 13,000 km on the bike), a pleasant trip to Grafton, a reasonable night sleep and my super pre-ride meal, I lined up for my second Grafton to Inverell feeling 110%!

I was perhaps a little over-confident, not thinking I could win the race but sure that if I kept to my race plan I would be finishing with the leading bunch.

Unfortunately, the surges and stops in the first fifty or so kilometers prompted me to move to the front of the 140+ riders bunch a little too early and the conserve, conserve, conserve was out of the window also a little too soon.

I had modified my food intake plan for this race because I wanted to get to the climb fully energised and avoid the cramping I experienced last year. So, gels and electrolyte drinks all the way to the bottom of the climb instead of the water and electrolyte combo I normally drink.

As we went over the timing mat (they timed the climb this year) the pace picked up a bit, at that moment I felt my core temperature rising to an almost sickening level and felt my legs starting to cramp. I started to panic, all I wanted to do was to position myself to grab a bottle of water from the neutral station, even though it would make me miss the predictable jump at the start of the climb.

I managed to grab the water bottle and poured half of its content over my head and body but lost a fair bit of time in the process. I chased hard for a kilometer or so and got on the back of the leading group but I didn't last long. I started to feel sick, I was gone!

Clearly, my body wasn't capable of digesting what I had taken in and it was trying to get rid of it somehow (sweat or vomit). Sadly, I didn't think of stopping to throw up (I would've been lighter..) and climbed the next 14 or 15 kms dealing with it, if you know what I mean.

I got over the climb alone (again!) after been caught by dozens of riders which didn't do any good for my state of mind. The next 30 km were mostly downhill and I tried to recover as much as possible. Every time a group went pass, I would jump on for a while and get dropped on the small rises.

Something went terribly wrong, my legs were only producing enough power to get me over the rises at 12 km/h. At that point, even the loud sounds of the insects in the forest were annoying me, all I wanted to do was meet Sandra at the feed station and miserably get off my bike.

Fortunately, I had the best support crew one can even imagine to have and a plan B was formed to take advantage of where we were - near one of the best climbs in Australia, the Gibraltar Range. The next day Sandra and I were descending and climbing this beautiful range.

You can check Groover's video here and Kevin Coppalotti's great photographs here.

So, that was my Grafton to Inverell, a big thank you to all the training partners this year, I had a ball! And lastly, congratulations to all the organisers, riders and handlers in this beautiful race, it was a hot one!

See you all next year!


Dee said...

What a shame! Cycling is easy, being an athlete is very hard indeed. Glad you found some love with the cycle, the race was a learning thing I suppose.

Like baseball, there is always next year.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmm, interesting re your experience with the gels and electrolytes....could be? maybe? contributing.....I can't and don't have any those things, they make me very sick, it's au natuarale concoctions for me.......limiting or not in performance, it's irrelevant to me, as the body decides otherwise!
Still, AMR, very impressive the journey to there and there.
Bank it.
Unleash it later!

Miff ;-0

Shane said...

damn shame Alberto. It is strange to think that a small tweak in race prep can make such a difference. I did a similar thing and took on more electrolyte drinks/gels than what I would usually suck down - and couldnt get anything into my system other than water with 60km to go - wasnt a nice feeling at all.

you know the saying - there is no better training than racing ... just a pity there is nothing that compares to this race in Qld !

Colin said...

I think your analysis is spot on. Too much for the body to process. Catch you soon

AMR said...

Hi there,
Thanks for your comments and yes, it has been a little hard to "process" but the preparation was a great journey in itself. I am looking forward to those 200 km training rides already.
The result? Well, it might come next year.
P.S. I will stick to my peanut butter and honey sandwich too!!

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