Dirty South West Side 2015

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This year’s Dirty South 100K West Side was an awesome ride, there was a big diverse turnout, a with a number of younger riders and women.  The route was more then challenging, and the weather was perfect.  That all being said I wish I’d stayed home. There are days when you are better off staying in bed, the signals are often clear.  Last Sunday was such a day, but I ignored the evidence and went on a bike ride instead.

It rained Friday, 2 days before the event, an all-day soaking rain, but I felt like crap anyway, so I didn’t leave the house.  I got on my trainer and ground out 12 miles that felt like 50.  I had a sore throat, slightly fuzzy head, and that crappy swollen gland feeling in my head and neck that accompanies the onset of a cold.  I haven’t had a serious cold in a couple of years, I really think when I was working as a janitor the daily exposure to cleaning products kept me from getting sick.  I decided to fight the cold, but eventually it won and I crawled off my trainer feeling worse.

Saturday I delivered mail, my mail delivery car was just as sick as I was.  It was seriously lacking power.  I came home and more or less laid around the rest of the night thinking about the Dirty South Gravel ride the next day.  I didn’t want to miss it, but should I ride it if I wasn’t feeling well.

Sleep was elusive Saturday night, but I loaded up on coffee and Sudafed Sunday morning, I was rearing at the bit.  A couple guys were driving with me, we loaded up our bikes on my car and took off, but didn’t get far.  With the added air resistance of 3 bikes on the roof rack the car couldn’t even make highway speeds, now I knew there was something seriously wrong with it.  The fact that I even considered driving across the state in a car that wasn’t working right is a testament to how bad my decision making skills were functioning.   We returned home and swapped out and just barely made it in time.

The early part of the ride was OK, I had a pretty bad sore throat and my chest wasn’t feeling great either but I seemed to be making it.  There were 29 people at the ride, which is an excellent turnout, and lots of faces I hadn’t seen before.  I tried pushing a little harder in the Pine Hills section and seemed OK.  There was a big regrouping and we rode a fast highway section in a great paceline.  I was breathing hard but having such a good time that I didn’t realize it hurt.

Eventually he hit a muddy unimproved gravel road that sucked the energy right out of the group.  I slipped through the group and fell out the back, just spinning easy, the hard breathing was making my chest hurt.  The cold was way down in my bronchial tubes.  I’ve always heard if you have a cold above the neck it’s safe to ride, below the neck don’t ride.  I decided a little too late that I shouldn’t be riding.

My mouth was bone dry and no amount of fluid would change that, though I wasn’t really tired from riding and my legs felt fine I had very little energy and a general sense of dread.  I wanted really badly to just be of the ride and in bed.  To make matters even worse the saddle and shorts combination I was wearing was causing a great deal of pain.  It was turning into a miserable grind.

I skipped most of the rest of the gravel and climbing sections and rode back in, my buddies had packed it in earlier so I hitched a ride home with Luke who had done the entire ride from the front group.  I was passed by them twice in the last 10 miles as they crossed the highway on gravels.  Luke was as hammered as I was after riding 65 miles and 4400 feet of climbing.  My ride was significantly easier.  The drive home was a fight to stay awake.

My cold was horrible for the next few days and only let up yesterday.

Moral of the story.  If you’re sick, don’t go ride a killer hard ride.

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About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
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