This weekend I rode a metric century including on a closed down freeway! It was amazing to get out with hundreds of other riders in the Central Valley of California.
Thanks to my college buddy, Ed Gonzalez, for riding with me out there!
In a number of recent conversations I’ve had with fellow handcyclists, I hear a lot about cramping during longer rides.
It surprises me because I have learned over the course of triathlon camps, clinics and coaching that nutrition is the answer. You have to eat something as you go. If I know that’s the obvious answer, so does everyone else, right? 😉
I used to cramp like mad when coming off the bike and transitioning to the run when I was doing one triathlon a year. In 2015, I decided to get serious about my training and get coached. One of the first things I learned was proper nutrition and hydration during a long ride, training, or race.
The real key is to find what works for you. There’s a variety of gel shots, bars, blocks, waffles and homemade recipes you can find to help you stay hydrated, keep your energy up, your watts cranking, and mind clear.
This is my nutrition plan for tomorrow’s metric century ride. The only thing you don’t see here is the oatmeal and half of a banana I eat when I wake up before the break of dawn.
My coach taught us this way: buy a couple of each brand & flavor. Try one brand per ride and see which agree with you and you can tolerate. Same goes for hydration supplements to add to your water bottle.
Through trial and error, you’ll find your mix.
On a basic ride of 20 miles, I’ll bring at least one gel and eat midway through the ride to keep me from cramping when I’m getting off the bike, which is crazy painful at my injury level.
Tomorrow during a 65-mile ride, I’m bringing enough for one gel every hour or 12-15 miles. That usually sees me through the 4-5 hour journey. If I wait until I’m hungry, it’s too late. I’ll have to work through the mental and physical valley while my body pumps the fuel back through my system.
Oh and post-race! I know that most feel like they’ve earned pizza, bacon cheeseburger, and fries and beer after an event like that. Or maybe I should say that I do. I’ve learned that if I want to keep to my healthy weight and not punish my system, that a balanced selection of carbohydrates and proteins immediately after the finish line is also on optimum window to replenish and rebuild.
If you’re in Central California, join us at the California Classic Weekend!
I saw this interview the other day with RJ Mitte. RJ played the son of Walter White in the show Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad I had always heard of, but only finally binged watched it with my parents after coming home from the hospital. RJ has cerebral palsy and gave this interview:
It reminded me of an awareness I came to one Friday night:
After rehab I went live with my parents in Fresno for about 8 months. I was out to dinner with a friend on a Friday night before going to see a movie. We went to a hot spot in town that had a 45 minute wait (that was really only 20 minutes).
Just a tangent, because people who’ve spent a lot of time with me know I love my tangents: aside from places like Mama’s in San Francisco or certain restaurants like that, most 45 minute waits really are 20 minutes at most.
We were seated, we ordered drinks, we ordered food and I then looked around. This was about 4 or 5 months into being out of the hospital. What I noticed was zero other wheelchairs in this large restaurant. Then I thought to myself, ‘Have I seen a wheelchair in public since coming out of the hospital?’
The answer was 1. I met a really outgoing guy my first day at the gym who was in a wheelchair and stoked to see someone else in a chair. But this wasn’t the first time I’d been to dinner and a movie, working in a coffee shop, shopping for shoes I don’t need, or going to Trader Joes. Okay, there was this old dude at Trader Joes with a milk crate strapped to his lap with bungie cords. This was super ingenious because anything after 4 things in your lap is bound to fall off with the slightest bump. I’ll never strap a milk crate to my lap with bungie cords because that’s ridiculous-looking and me saying that is counter-intuitive to everything I’m about to say. But hey, we all have our limits and ? we’re working through. Maybe if I’m still in this wheelchair at 70+ I’ll cave. I digress.
So back to the point, that’s 2 people out there in 8 months.
I asked my friend at dinner, ‘Why is it that there aren’t more people in wheelchairs out and about? The world is pretty accessible and legally it has to be, right? I’ve yet to go to a restaurant or coffee shop where I can’t get in or pull up to a table. The movie theater has rows for me to sit in, even though I prefer to transfer into a normal seat anyway. Why don’t I see more people out there?’
‘Because they are ashamed to be out in public. They don’t like the stigma.’ she replied.
Kind of obvious. My friend is a Physical Therapist, so she knows firsthand what it is like. I wanted to revolt because I have this belief that stigma and judgement and funny looks and all that only have the power that you give them. I believe that people fall in line with how you see yourself. You are a leader. If you say, ‘I’ve had a crappy day and my life isn’t going the way I thought it would because I couldn’t get that hair appointment I wanted’ people will believe you and console you and cup your elbow and say, ‘Poor baby.’ And so goes your life.
But if you fall off your bike and end up in a wheelchair and say, ‘You know what. I’m going to do a triathlon, except as a paratriathlete.’ People will say, ‘Wow that’s amazing and super impressive! How can I help you?’
But I knew she was right. Not everyone has been exposed to that idea. And it’s kind of tragic that that is the case.
The other day I was in-between doctor appointments and craving BBQ from a favorite restaurant. I went through it. Counter to everything I just wrote, I didn’t want to hassle with getting my wheelchair in and out of my car, I didn’t want to miss my timing and fumble through opening the front door, I didn’t want to be a guy in a wheelchair in a busy restaurant right in the center of town with all the pretty people right at lunchtime, and I didn’t want to deal with people looking at me.
But then I did what I usually do. I said ‘fuck it.’ After all, I’m a pretty people too (less I forget).
I went to the restaurant. I fumbled through the door. I sat on the patio because it was a nice day, right on the sidewalk. Other pretty people walked by. They walked in and out of the restaurant right past my table. I asked the waitress to change the TV to Olympic Volleyball. I watched the US fall to Russia in the bronze medal match. I ate my Brisket salad. I flirted with a girl over text. I smiled at people who I made I contact with. I paid my bill. I took off for my doctor’s appointment, and life went on.
RJ Mitte is right. I hope a lot of disabled people see his message. When you want to do something, go to it. Don’t hide your disability. Don’t hide who you are or what you are. Show it to the world. Not by Snapchatting or posting it to Twitter, but getting out IRL. Go rock climbing or paddle boarding. Go to lunch and flirt with the girl. Go do things you want to do.
And that goes for you able-bodied people too. Take it from me, it could be snatched from you in an instant.
Now get on it while I Snap this and post it to Twitter.
A year ago around 11:45am I lost control of my bike on a descent through switchbacks. I suffered a broken collar bone, collapsed lung, fractured ribs, and L1 burst fracture in my lower spine that has put me in a #wheelchair. One year later I swam through duck ? infested lake water training for a #paratriathlon and then rewarding myself with chicken fried steak and a side of bacon. #HappyAnniversary.