Most of us have learned that many of the things we like to do get harder to do as we age. This applies to exercise and sports but also to many other activities. At the end of a long trip to Southeast Asia several years ago, for example, a fellow traveler said that it was likely their last long trip. Her husband was clearly not as agile as he evidently once was. It didn’t help that he doesn’t exercise regularly.
About ten years ago my local cycling group started a tradition of cycling a century, or 100 miles, every year. At that time, at age 68, it was a relatively easy ride for me. I’ve done a number of century rides over the past 25 years in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which is quite hilly. Even with the wind, southwest Florida rides are much easier.
Several years ago I completed the ride here and felt like I could easily do another 50 miles. Last year was a different story entirely. While I finished, I had some doubts as to whether I would at about mile 75. When I finally got home I was bone tired – I could hardly get my tight socks off. Shortly after I began experiencing painful cramping in my legs that persisted for several hours. The cramping was a result of being dehydrated.
This year I committed to doing a better job of preparation by doing several rides of 65 miles each prior to cycling the century. I also made sure to stay hydrated – I drank at least twice as much energy drink as last year plus took at least 10 capsules containing electrolytes. I also drank two sugared Cokes that provided immediate energy. This is a favorite drink among cyclists on long rides.
The result was that this year I didn’t experience any cramping. While I was tired at the end of the ride, I recovered quickly. I didn’t even experience cramps in the middle of the night. I took the next day off but could easily have done a recovery ride of 30-40 miles.
Some of you who are golf aficionados will remember when Ken Venturi won the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Maryland in 1964. A native of San Francisco, California, he was not accustomed to the heat and humidity. He became severely dehydrated; a doctor advised him not to finish as he might die. He was fortunate to recover and win.