Learning My Lesson

Yesterday’s ride was a doozy. I left work with high hopes of a great ride and got home four hours later tired and cranky. My plan was to ride to Imperial Beach up the Silver Stand to the Coronado Ferry and then catch the bus home from downtown. Unfortunately, I did several things wrong which made the ride more difficult than it should have been.

What I did wrong
My first mistake was made in the morning when I forgot to grab a packet of GU to use as back up food. I’ve found that lately I’ve underestimated how much food I will want to eat during the ride and have been fortunate that I generally pack some extra, ‘just in case.’ This time I did not. I also decided to try out an ‘energy’ drink mix that a good friend gave me. This mix created a caffeine based energy drink, and I wanted to see how caffeine would affect my riding. (Some cyclists use caffeine to help keep them alert and focused.) Also, because I was auditioning this caffeine beverage, I did not have a place for my usual Gatorade bottle, so I did not have that source of calories either. Finally, I failed to check the bus and ferry schedules so that I could ensure a minimum of waiting.

What went wrong
The main thing that went wrong was that the caffeine beverage failed the audition. Miserably. On top of not actually providing any energy that I could use to power my bike, it interfered with the digestion of the one source of calories I did have (a fantastically delicious peanut butter granola bar). Once I ate the granola bar, my stomach knotted up around it and I had to ride the rest of the route with a cramp that impeded my breathing. As if only to top that, the ferry left the dock while I was purchasing my ticket. This left me with an hour to sit on dock waiting for the ferry to return. Once I disembarked downtown (at 8pm) I stopped at the first stop where I could get on a #15 bus. After a 20 minute wait, I jumped on the #2 bus which would get me within 10 blocks of home. Had I been more patient, the #15 was just a few more minutes and would have gotten me home quicker with less cycling.

The good news from all of this is that I learned a lot about riding and commuting. First, caffeine is not good for me so I will just stay away from it. Second, always check to see when busses and ferries run. And finally, even if I’m dead tired, sporting a stomach cramp and not really feeling that great, I can still finish my planned ride, which will be useful knowledge when I ride my first century.

Despite the seemingly bad experience I did enjoy myself and plan on making the ride again. I achieved my mini-goal of getting to the strand before sunset so that I could watch the setting sun as I rode along the beach. I got in a total of 27 miles on the day and I got to catch up with an old friend on the phone while I waited for the ferry. Looking at it from that angle, it wasn’t a bad commute at all.