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Fun ride at Santos with Mike Simmons and Rob Ern; Heat exhaustion, spiders.

Monday, July 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


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.

There was a big tree low across the "Tricycle trail". I was riding out front at that point, and thought I could squeeze under it. My judgment was a few mm off.

There was a big tree low across the “Tricycle trail”. I was riding out front at that point, and thought I could squeeze under it. My judgment was a few mm off.

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…

Mike's helmet after returning from Saturday's ride at Santos (Photo credit: Mike Simmons)

Mike’s helmet after returning from Saturday’s ride at Santos (Photo credit: Mike Simmons)

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!

Saturday's ~40 mile route.

Saturday’s ~40 mile route.

John Stone Fitness Comments

5 Responses to “Fun ride at Santos with Mike Simmons and Rob Ern; Heat exhaustion, spiders.”
  1. They should add that in the TDF on the climbs, giant spider webs with huge spiders that the riders have to go through, bad enough they have all the freak jobs running next to them lighting off smoke bombs. I’ve been using the salt tabs in races, I tape three to my top tube with blue masking tape, I take one every 30 min. Yesterday at the one hour mark I went to take my second tab and dropped it, then I tried to take the last one, got it in my mouth, went to grab my camelbak hose and out flies the salt tab! DOH! Luckily I didn’t get any cramps.

    GD Star Rating
    • You know, this is the first year I’ve watched the tour with any real interest, and I am still pretty shocked by some of it. The smoke bombs, as you mentioned, were certainly one thing, but also the way the spectators run out into the road, often right in front of the athletes. I saw a video on Youtube from a previous TDF, and one dumb lady actually caused a crash (I’m sure that was not the first time it’s happened, either). If I were 140 miles into a stage and someone caused me to crash, I think I’d go ballistic. Seems really unsafe for the riders to allow people to act like that.

      I was actually telling Rob and Mike on our ride about how you tape the Salt Stick caps to your bar. It’s a great idea. When I’m road riding it’s super easy to reach back into my jersey and grab the old Tic-Tac box to get one, but on the trails it’s much harder to do that.

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      • Yeah, a few years back Lance Armstrong was out of the saddle hammering and his handlebar caught a woman’s purse strap, he went down hard. Funny I was riding on pavement when I dropped both the salt tabs, probably because I was sucking wind so hard!

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    • I don’t think I was quite at the passing out point, but I was definitely hurting. The only other time this has happened to me was a few years back at Wekiwa. That time I was alone and in the middle of nowhere, and it was definitely pretty scary.

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