I learned this word from Baby Seal. It is the perfect description of what happens when someone comes apart on a bike ride. It fits me to a T.
This morning Kristie and I left Austin; we were shooting for an LCRA park about 15 miles outside of La Grange, Texas. Total distance 90 miles via Bastrop and Buescher state parks; the longer, hilly, scenic route.
The pre-ride it was perfect. It began with warm Shipley donuts. But that was the high point of the day. As I began riding I felt really bad and went from there to worse.
This has characterized the whole trip. I’m a day away from Houston and feel about as rotten now as I did on the second day, when I came unstitched in Alpine, CA. I keep waiting for that day when I will have the kind of magical legs I had this summer; when I will finish the day tired and reawaken completely rejuvenated. Instead what has happened is that I have finished each day exhausted and re-awoken the following morning equally or even more exhausted. The occasional day when I feel good is followed by continuous days of lethargy.
Food, sleep, and rest days have not fixed the problem.
Kristie has a simple explanation. “You are profundly fatigued.”
“Yeah. You have been riding nonstop since July, combining that with the brutal lifestyle of a homeless person, living in a tent, feeding on scraps, making and breaking camp as often as an outlaw on the run.”
“I took six weeks off after getting back from my trip to the Canadian border.”
“You did nothing of the kind.”
“Of course I did.”
“You did a 3-day, 300-mile ride with camping to Santa Barbara. You rode between 40 and 70 miles every single day you were in Los Angeles. Many of those rides you did with a fully loaded pack. You rode 140 miles to Rancho Cucamonga to buy a tent. And don’t forget the ride you did with Eric and Miles.”
“That was a fun ride.”
“You couldn’t walk the next day.”
“Yeah, I guess I couldn’t.”
“So with zero recovery from three months living out of a tent and clocking 3500 miles, you immediately decided to ride and camp your way to Texas. In the winter. On a route that takes you over the Continental Divide. With a 30-pound backpack. It would be a tall order for a healthy, fit cyclist in his 20s. You are almost 60. You have worn yourself completely out. You are done.”
She had a good point, or rather, she was right. After our 74-mile ride today to La Grange, she felt fine. I was too tired to make it a mere 15 more miles to the campsite, so I got a motel room. After checking in I crawled into bed, shivering. “It sure is cold in here,” I said.
“No, it isn’t. It is about 75°. You are shivering because you have zero body fat and you are completely worn out; too worn out to even maintain your core body temperature without three blankets.”
We still have 108 miles to get to Houston. I am pretty sure I can do it, but there is no way I will be able to get on my bicycle and ride back to California.