Fun ride at Santos with Mike Simmons and Rob Ern; Heat exhaustion, spiders.
Saturday morning Mike Simmons, Rob Ern and I headed up to the Santos mountain bike park for a fairly long ride. I’ve ridden with Rob at Mt. Dora a few times, but this was the first time we’ve had an opportunity to hit Santos together. If Rob’s last name sounds familiar, that may be because Rob is the mastermind behind my favorite trail at Santos, “Ern ‘n Burn”. Rob is also Vice President of the Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA), and co-owner of Brick City Cycles.
It’s the middle of July, and Central Florida has been getting a lot of rain this summer; when we rolled out at 8:00 AM it was already hot and very steamy. The heat would prove to be a serious problem for me later in the ride.
We rode at a good pace, but none of us was out there slaying. We kept things conversational and social, but still hit the fun stuff pretty hard.
It was a terrific rush for me when we hit “Ern ‘n Burn” with Rob leading out!
I decided not to bring my GoPro on Saturday, but I have some footage from a similar 43 mile ride I did in late March here.
About 15 miles in we decided to ride a new trail called “Tricycle”. This trail is a little over 7 miles in length, is non-technical and was only recently cut. Because this trail is so new and has not seen many tires, it’s a little hard to follow in spots. There are orange flags still present from when the trail was originally laid out, and those flags helped with navigation.
At one point while we were riding the Tricycle trail I was up front on spider duty (more on that below), and there was a huge tree stretched across the trail. There looked to be juuuust enough room to get under it, so I got as low as possible on my bike and went for it. That was a mistake (see the picture on the right).
Unfortunately there are a lot of wild pigs in the areas Tricycle passes through, and those pigs have really churned up the ground in quite a few spots. Even though Tricycle is not a technical trail, it was pretty demanding from a cardio perspective and slow going because of the terrain. Oh, and the spiders…
If you do any amount of mountain biking in Florida, you’re going to run into a lot of Golden Silk Orb Weavers. These giant spiders are everywhere, and they love to build their webs across the trail–often at face level. These spiders are not poisonous, but they do bite.
Because the Tricycle trail doesn’t see much action, the number of spiders we ran into out there was something out of a nightmare. We ran into these giant spiders, on average, about every 20 feet… for more than 7 straight miles. I’m not exaggerating. Being the lead rider was noble, but it sucked. We all took turns up front, and it was always the same scene: the lead rider would go until he simply couldn’t bear another spider crawling on him (this process was accelerated based on the number of spiders crawling across the face), he’d stop and brush away the spiders and webs while someone else took the lead, and so on.
With about two miles left to go on Tricycle, Mike had quite enough and wisely bailed to the adjacent limerock road. I stayed with Rob on Tricycle, but in retrospect I wish I’d followed Mike. The last couple miles of trail were really chewed up by wild pigs, the spiders were as numerous as ever, my heart rate was very high and the heat was really getting to me.
This is about the point where I started suffering from heat exhaustion. The first thing I felt was a serious bonk. My energy level dropped to nothing and I felt extremely weak. I guess we about 25 miles in at this point, and there was still a lot of riding ahead (and it was only getting hotter).
I had been consuming plenty of water along with electrolytes–obviously not enough electrolytes, though. I don’t think I realized just how much I was sweating, and I was simply not consuming enough electrolytes to replenish what I’d lost.
On the return ride we hit Ern ‘n Burn again, which is fairly technical and a leg-burner. That’s when the wheels came completely off my wagon. I felt weak as a kitten, my heart rate was high even at rest, my skin was clammy and I was fighting the urge to puke. Definitely heat exhaustion. I was able to make it back, but I had to bail to the limerock road and just soft pedal at a slow 12-ish MPH pace.
We stopped for food on the way back, and I just sort of picked at mine for the first 10 minutes. I was still fighting the urge to throw up, but slowly my appetite returned as I sat in the cool air and drank a soda. I manged to eat my lunch, and that definitely helped me feel better.
So, how dehydrated was I?
I drank 140 oz of water while riding, another 1/4 gallon of water in the truck right after riding, 2 huge sodas with a big lunch after the ride, another 1/2 gallon of water after I got home, ate a pizza and 4 pieces of garlic bread for dinner and drank 4 beers. After all of that I was still down 3.2 pounds from my pre-ride weight.
I’m definitely going to have to be more strict with my electrolyte intake in this heat.
Apart from the heat exhaustion towards the end of the ride, it was a super fun day, and I had a blast! Santos rocks!