Drink Your Water Before It's Too Late (My Scary Ambulance Story) 
Friday, September 7, 2012 at 02:36PM
Kim Bloom

A couple of winters ago, my boyfriend Brad and I went on a trip to Puerto Rico with another couple.  We were there to do a 3 day bike ride around the entire island with 625 other riders…roughly 380 miles of riding in 3 days.   

This was to be a SPECTACULAR experience, one we could hardly wait to embark on.

We arrived around 4:00 PM the day before the first ride was to start.  There was so much to be done, including getting our bikes unpacked and put back together, picking up our ride packets, getting our gear prepared for the first morning's ride and making sure we had a good, hearty meal.  

The first day’s ride was 154 miles.  At 6:00 AM, all 625 of us began the first 20 miles together before splitting off into three groups based on pace...'A group,' B group' and 'C group.' 

When the ride starts, it's pitch black outside because it's so early.  Of course, we all have lights on our bikes but as I'm riding alongside my friend my main focus is seeing where I'm going, avoiding holes in the street, paying attention to where the other riders are around me (not everyone on this ride is an experienced rider) and just soaking it all in.   

I'm not thinking about hydration...

About 30-40 miles in, my arms started to feel fatigued and achy.  

Now there were some pretty steep declines (due to the pretty steep inclines) and I'd never ridden in the mountains at this point in my riding career. 

So, I just assumed my arms were sore because of my death grip riding down these steep hills, the multiple holes in the road that we had to be careful to avoid, an occasional iguana (I'm not kidding, there was an occasional iguana in the road) and the sometimes 'not so smooth' terrain.  

I just kept telling myself to loosen my grip and relax my arms so the pain would go away.  

Little did I know, this was the beginning of dehydration.  

Now, I was already dehydrated from our previous travel day...traveling does that to you. I wasn't thinking about the water bottles sitting in my bottle cages on the bike (that I should have been drinking from) during the first 20 miles and at 6:00 AM when we started, it was already over 80 degrees and devastatingly humid.

At about 70 miles, my quads started to cramp up.  I had to get off the bike and two men who were riding near me stopped to help me out.  They gave me salt tablets and pickle juice (apparently, pickle juice is one of the best things to prevent dehydration due to it’s high sodium content) and one of them rubbed my legs for me. Of course, being the diehard that I am, this was all I needed and I was on my way again. 

At mile 85, I somehow managed to make it up a 4 mile climb without cramping.  Not sure if this was the pickle juice kicking in or the fact that I didn't stand up during the entire incline even though the last 1/2 mile was the steepest part…pretty much like a wall! 

At mile 92 when I got to lunch and had made it up that hill without cramping I thought I was home free and the remaining 62 miles would be smooth sailing.  I actually thought, "I only have 62 miles left, I'm good to go." Think again...

I made it to mile 120 but unfortunately at that point, my quads, hamstrings, inner thighs, hips, glutes...yeah, pretty much my entire body cramped up so badly that I literally COULD NOT move.  I hunched over my bike just as one of the ride ambulances drove up.  

They had to lift me off the bike and put me on a stretcher in order to get me in the ambulance.  I ended up having IVs and was severely sick to my stomach.  

Needless to say, it was a miserable night and I was unable to ride on day two.

While this ranks as one of the worst experiences of my life, it was definitely one that I learned a lot from and now I'm passing those lessons on to you.  Here they are:

It was unfortunate that I traveled all the way to Puerto Rico to do this ride and have this experience. I had no choice but to rest all day on day 2…I could NOT have ridden had I tried.  But one thing's for sure...I'll never let dehydration get me like this again!

I did end up being able to ride on day 3 and I rode the entire 130 miles with no issues because I did everything I mentioned above.  

I really can’t complain that I didn’t get to ride on day two...I rode 250 miles...in two days...in January...during one of the snowiest winters in history in Minnesota.  

Plus, riding into Old San Juan with all 625 riders and thousands of spectators cheering for us was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

I'd say one of the most important things I learned that day is that severe dehydration, like what I’ve described CAN BE FATAL.  This is something I did not know when I was sitting in the SAG wagon with my IVs hanging from the hook by the door while negotiating with the nurse sitting next to me how I was going to ride on day two.  

So write my lessons down, memorize them, ingrain them in your brain and DO NOT forget them next time you're out on a long ride in the hot, hot heat (or during any endurance sport).  They could very well...SAVE YOUR LIFE! 

Article originally appeared on bodybybloom (http://www.bodybybloom.com/).
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