Heatstroke

A few weeks ago I got into a bit of trouble. At the time I was too embarrassed to write about it, but now I guess I am over it — so here goes.

See I’d just spent a week off the bike and once home I knew I needed some distance to appease my Garmin Temple. And because I felt all fat and heavy from all the food-decadence that traveling entails, I skipped breakfast on top of a light dinner the night before.

So Ryan and I headed out towards Nudgee Beach and we were taking it easy cause we left rather late and it was pretty damn hot. I think it was the hottest day of the summer so far. Around 45ks in Ryan had stuff to do so around Nundah I said goodbye with the plan being I’d stick around to do some laps of the crit track.

So I smashed around and around just pushing myself, trying to be as tough as possible. But soon I started feeling a bit weak, so I headed home, a journey of around 18km. In my mind I was thinking about going for a few Strava records on the way but as soon as I approached these segments I felt awful — and increasingly so. In fact, right in the middle of the one I was gonna concentrate on — I had to stop to have a rest.

I sat in the shade and drank some fluids feeling utterly emotionally defeated but expecting to feel physically better very soon. That didn’t happen. In fact, I suspected I was feeling worse, so I soldiered on, thinking I should just get home, have something to eat or sit or have a cold shower.

My belly was screaming at me for food, but I didn’t feel one bit hungry. Instead I felt like vomiting and assumed if I tried to eat something, that would make me puke and I would be in an even worse state.

Once on the Bicentennial Bikeway I started feeling dizzy and it was getting hard to focus on the path. I started becoming quite scared. I was reminded of a ride in September 2011 where I visited the ultimate depths of the pain cave. That ride, Day 2 of an overnight adventure to Woodenbong, was fucked up. I was in the middle of nowhere, with only a few drops of water left, with no phone reception, and utterly exposed to the heat of a 35 degree day. I was suffering so much I couldn’t keep up with the other guys and they disappeared miles up the road while I limped on at a pace a kid on a trike could run circles around me.

I have never, ever felt so sick and so alone and so desperate. It seriously made me question whether I ever wanted to ride a bike again.

So that feeling was starting to sweep over me. At a tap on the bikeway I stopped and dragged myself off the bike and then lay flat on the shady concrete with my water bottle trying to hug the cool with as much of my body as possible. I was feeling dizzy and ill and considered calling Dee for rescue. But because I was on the bikepath, which is isolated by 6 lanes of Coronation Drive, and invisible to the road anyway, I felt there was no way she could find me or be of much help.

I started thinking I needed some other type of rescue. But the bikeway was pretty deserted. It was so hot other riders and joggers had sensibly abandoned the place. But every few minutes someone passed and I looked at them looking helpless and thinking I should ask for help but everytime I balked. Eventually I couldn’t stand it anymore and I raised my arm at a passing cyclist and he slowed and stopped.

“I feel really sick,” I said. And the dude got off his bike and asked if I needed an ambulance and I said, “I don’t think I am at that stage yet, but if you don’t mind sticking around for a minute or two just in case — that would be awesome.”

He filled up my water bottle which I tipped over my head. And then I started to improve. I tried to keep talking just to prove I could make sense — which I hope that poor dude who stopped understood.

Soon I felt better enough, and embarrassed enough, to start riding home and recover some dignity. I thanked my rescuer and said I only had a few ks to go.

But soon I was in bad shape again and I had to jump off the bike just climbing up some short hill that connected the bike path to Coronation Drive. At the top I felt fucking disgusting again — like I was about to pass out. Having experienced that phenomenon many, many times — I know to be weary of that feeling. I almost had to sit down but then the lights changed and I could cross. The next 2km could only be described as an ordeal and everything went so slowly, making everything so much worse.

I made it to the friendly grocer which is within sight of my street but I had to stop again. I sat outside the shop with my head in my lap for a good 3 or 4 minutes trying to recover enough to have the energy and composure to go inside and act “normal” buying some gatorade. But I couldn’t do it.

And so I called Dee for rescue. And I was within 500m of home. How crazy is that? My mind was a jumble and I was so fucking scared of this pain I was in. It was just so unnatural.

As i waited I felt well enough to stand, and then desperate enough to get that gatorade.

There was no sign of Dee so I just walked the bike towards the house thinking I would intercept her as she came for me. But as it turns out she had gone a different way and spent ages looking like a mad-woman at the shop! Soz babe.

At the gate I collapsed again and called Dee who was sounding as desperate as me.

So I made it home, I had that shower, I had some food, then more food and I laid down for a few hours and eventually…eventually I felt normal.

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