Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Bear Mountain Bike Adventure- Cramp central

The Bear Mountain Bike Adventure-
Cramp central
So this adventure starts like ever good one does.  With a simple day off of work.  Since I need to balance my training and fun I decided to take a long day trek up to Bear Mt. New York from Fort Lee New Jersey.  The route was the beautiful 9w which follows along the palisades through some nice quiet towns, some busy streets, and as you get further north some mountain roads.  As I started out in the morning I was happy an maybe a little over excited.  I had no plans for the day but to head up 9w.  I felt great as I left my house and zipped up to the Palisades from my house.  I had a backpack with some minor gear and some water, plus a few snacks.  I blasted through the first section of 9W up to the alpine area like I always do then pushed a little further up until I passed the New York State border.  After that It felt like relatively new area to me as I had only biked up to Nyack a few times before.  Mile after mile I kept up pedaling along.  After Nyack It was all new to me as I had never been on those roads before.  Passed through a town with a big hospital and some small towns along the way until everything started to get more spread out, less cars, less buildings, and less people in general.  I was nearing Bear mountain as the mostly hill terrain changed to some decent climbs with some nice views along the river.  I recognized where I was as soon as I saw the Bear Mt Lake which was shimmering a very deep blue on that beautiful sunny summer day. 

Bear Mt lodge

Bear Mt Lake

Bear Mt Lake

Four army helicopters flying over head.  Only got three in the Picture though.

View from my resting view point on 202.  Just down stream of the bridge.

Bear Mt Bridge.

View from Bear Mt Bridge.

 As I got to the circle I decided to bike across the Bear Mt. Bridge and turn to the right for one last climb I remembered doing years earlier and bike and build.  Funny how it goes that, that night I would chat with my friend Dustin Wall who was also on my cross country trip (he is currently traveling in Australia) and it just so happened to be the exact day 4 year later that we had biked down that very same hill and right across the Bear Mt Bridge.  Of course I realized this later that night.  
I took my first break to rest for lunch at the small view point on 202.  Had a snack and some water and sat in the shade while I watched all the cars and motorcycles stop by for the view.  All did the same touristy stop for pictures, stretch and then straight back in the car.  I on the other hand Layed on the floor and stretched for a while as I could feel my right leg starting to cramp up.  A cramp or should I say pull in my leg that I think is my IT band.  Needless to say I had over worked my legs probably from the combination of biking to work, biking to Cape May and biking to Bear Mt. with a combination of being super dehydrated because I never stopped to refill water.  I think I learned my lesson that biking 2-3 straight without drinking or eating is not a sustainable method to riding long days even if your in really good shape.  The body just does not react well to that kind of stress.  
So after a long break I jumped back on my bike and because it was getting a little later in the day I headed back with the intentions of going for a swim and my local gym that night.  However my Legs had other plans for me. As soon as I started heading south I felt a slight tingle on the inside of my right quad near the inside of my right knee where the IT band connects.  Ignoring the beginning of an injury is something I am know for and something that is terrible.  After 5 or 10 more minutes of riding my leg started to cramp heavily.  Every time my right leg tried to complete a single circular pedal I would get a sharp pull pain through my leg so bad that I had to flop off the bike to the side.  I took this first heavy pull to be a sign that I needed to stop so I rested and drank some more and decided it was a great time for lunch.  A few blocks down the road I stopped for a slice of pizza which is my favorite treat in the world.  The girl at the counter gave me the funniest look when I came in.  I think she felt bad for me because it looked like I was torturing myself.  I was really sweaty and dirty looking with salt stains covering my whole jersey.  I grabbed 3 slices of pizza and 2 big Arizona ice tea drinks and relaxed for a while.  
After a quick refill of water I was back on the road but not for long.  10 minutes down the road my leg was cramping up again.  This time I almost dove off my bike into traffic the pull was so painfully severe.  I plopped down on the side gravel next to a gas station and waited before pushing on, on my bike.   I felt good for maybe 15 minutes before having to pull over again. this time on the sloped grass of an old person home.  Maybe I made their day by giving them something to look at.  I stretched it out and rubbed my legs down for a while before deciding to take a nap.  I have never struggled so hard on a bike ride before.  The rest of the ride home which was probably a good 20 miles I felt a slight tinge a few times but I changed up my sitting position and my pedal stroke a little to avoid the some pain.  I forget how many hills 9W has.  Coming back into Fort Lee from Englewood cliffs was the best feeling.  I can honestly saw it was one of my best showers I have taken in a long time, especially since I sat in a chair. A good end to a good adventure.  My important lesson is to make sure I'm hydrated and when I am not I should just rest instead.