Tomorrow, with temperatures here in New England expected to reach 90+ degrees, I try to stay hydrated, full of electrolytes and may even down some pickle juice all in an attempt to keep leg cramps at bay as I do the annual Harpoon Brewery to Brewery (B2B) ride. The roughly 8 hour ride, which begins at the South Boston Harpoon brewery, ends some 150 miles later at Harpoon’s other brewery in Windsor VT. While there is no beer in route, Harpoon does treat us well once we get to Windsor with a big celebratory BBQ and of course, beer.
This will be my fourth year and is one of the highlights of summer for me. Unfortunately, in each of that last three B2Bs that I have done, my legs have cramped up something fierce at about mile 120 or so. I’ve always managed to “pedal-thru” the cramp but damn it hurts. This year I have a three-prong strategy to avoid cramps:
1) Be sure to stay hydrated. I’ll have 2 lg bottles on the bike and plan to have those drained at least 3-5 miles before a given refueling stop.
2) Constantly be munching on “Clif Blocks.” Packages of these are handed out at every refueling stop. What I do is take a couple of packages, open them up and then tuck them under the legs of my shorts, that way I can easily dislodge one, put it into my mouth without having to reach into back pocket. These Clif Blocks have a lot of electrolytes packed into them – perfect on a hot day.
3) Don’t linger at the refueling stop. I ride with my club in a fairly large group which is fine at the beginning but as we hit mile 75, mile 90, etc., the pack really starts to break-up. I am typically one of the first to arrive at a given stop and then have to wait for others to arrive. Unfortunately, some of those waits can extend to 30-40min before we roll again. While I roll into the rest stop fine, when we get back on our bikes to roll, my legs seize. Sorry boys, this year I’m doing it differently – love to ride with you but love even more the thought of no cramps.
Now I’m really not sure how many vistors of this predominantly healthcare IT site actually ride a bike or for that matter have done long rides such as this one I am about to embark upon. If you have not done a longish ride (say more than 30 miles) I strongly encourage you to give it a try. The bicycle truly is one of humanity’s finest inventions and being out on a bike for a couple of hours truly opens up your senses to the beauty of this planet we call home.
Now if we could only find a way for a broader cross-section of the populace to get out and ride their bikes to do errands, to get to work, etc., who knows, maybe catastrophes such as the one currently happening in the Gulf of Mexico would be less likely.
Enjoy the ride! I miss Harppon Brewery parties from my Boston days. They were so fun! GO JOHN!!
Hi John, Good luck with your ride and do enjoy the scenery along the way!
Good luck with the ride; I know a couple other nuts doing it too. I recommend keeping a banana or 2 on hand just in case. The potassium supposedly helps w cramps. Maybe some day I’ll try the B2B; I have a couple metric centuries under my belt this season and am working up to the Pan-Mass Challenge in August. See you on the road!
Have fun John! I totally agree on your last point … more bike paths!
First I’d like to say that I enjoy reading your blog since I’m in the HIT sector myself.
Second, I commend you on your biking efforts! I recently did the Long Beach bike tour last month, which was around 30 miles and it was a blast. Definitely stay hydrated and I totally agree with your second point about the Clif blocks, they really help for energy and taste good too.
Best of luck for your ride!
Have a great ride, I agree with you wholeheartedly. More Bike Paths. And, More people should ride, your are right getting out and seeing the countryside by bike is totally different from any other means of transport or recreation. Hope your plan for no cramp works ;0)
How did you end up doing ?
What was the pace that BHCC rode at ?
I did the ride for 1st time and was picked up by broom wagon at 135miles.
Great event, plan on finishing next year.
Sending in an application to BHCC.
First off, thank you one and all for the well wishes for this fairly long and what was this year a VERY grueling ride.
The heat was brutal and at about mile 80, my legs started to cramp and that didn’t stop until sometime early on the morning of the following day.
But the cramps were not the worst of it. THe worst was actually the swelling of my feet inside my bie shoes. Loosened them up as best I could but between the heat, heat radiating off the pavement and the exertion, I felt as though my feet had been placed in a clamp made by the devil himself. Very painful.
It was a tough ride, the toughest B2B I have done, this being the fourth. Will I do it again? You betcha! Yup, I do have a few screws lose.
And Rick as to your more specific questions:
Rode with the “A-team” of BHCC (all of us racers) and we kept up a very strong pace, averaging about 20-21mph over th entire 150 miles.
Don’t worry Rick, there were other BHCC groups that were traveling at a more relaxed pace and we had a fairly large grp in the 17mph field.
Hope to see you out on a BHCC ride in the future.
Congrats on crossing that finish line. I enjoy the challenge of long rides too, although I question my sanity around mile 65. In some strange way it’s addictive. Did Lake Tahoe earlier this month, it was so beautiful.
As an eHealth entrepreneur I follow your blog closely. Thanks for the excellent coverage.