Well, I guess it was my turn in the barrel. Greg and I joined 6 others in Italy to ride the same route we had tackled Sunday, and this time it was me who cratered early. Almost as soon as we started riding, I felt short of breath. I figured it was allergies acting up, and I’d be fine after a few miles, but that’s not what happened. I simply could not take a deep breath the entire ride. If I tried to exhale deeply, I sounded like the worst smoker’s wheeze you’ve ever heard.
And it didn’t get better. I’m here to tell you it’s pretty tough getting up hills if you can’t take a deep breath. And it seemed to sap my strength more, the further we went. I didn’t feel too bad at the first control stop at 28 miles, just a bit puzzled why I couldn’t keep up on the same hills I had been fine on Sunday. But the bigger hills just after the first control let me know this was going to be an extremely tough day. Greg stayed with me as I slowed. By the second control at 64 miles, I had doubts that I was going to be able to finish, and by the last control at 94 miles, I was sure I wasn’t going to finish.
But I did finish. My total was 132.5 miles. On the bike average was 15.4 mph. I forgot to check total time, but it had to be around 10 and a half hours, with many more stops than usual. My mysterious illness was only one of the indignities I endured on this ride. I ended up with body aches, much like you get when you have a fever. Every joint I have which has arthritis issues, was screaming. My Garmin Edge 305 wouldn’t power on. Even now, plugged in to power, it still won’t come on. It appears to be dead, pending repair. I really would have liked to have that heart rate monitor today. On this day when I felt so bad, it would have been nice to watch that window into my engine.
I also had two flats. With only one working co2 cartridge and a bad pump, I finished the ride with less than optimum pressure in my rear tire. When we stopped at mile 110 to water a roadside tree, I found out the hard way that I was doing my business while standing in a fire ant bed. I also had a wasp fly inside my sunglasses, but escaped being stung.
By the end, I was barely able to turn the pedals, and when we stopped in front of a Milford store with just six miles to go, I was certain that I was done. Greg bought a Dr Pepper from a machine. At first I decided against a soda (I don’t drink carbonated beverages at all), but then remembered all the times I’d seen a pro peloton racer down a Coke, so I bought an RC. That old racer’s sugar and caffeine trick does seem to work. I still had no leg strength left, and was still wheezing like a terminal smoker, but I felt a lot better, and kept the pedals turning for the final 6 miles.
I still don’t know what to make of my strange symptoms. I never coughed up much, so I was left to believe that it was just constricted bronchial tubes or such. Sure enough, when I chased down and took an ephedrine pill at home, I was able to breathe better. We’re talking classic asthma symptoms here. I don’t know what to make of it, but I’m going to discuss it with my doctor.
As I break out my dictionary now, and look up the definition of the word, “fun”, I wonder if it will match today’s story. Somehow, I don’t think so. Thanks for dragging me in, Greg.