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Completed: Devil Mountain Double, but with weird symptoms again

I completed the Camino Real Double Century in on Feb 18, then the Solvang Spring Double on March 18, then the Southern Inyo Double Century on April 1. Thus Devil Mountain Double (DMD) was my fourth double century this year.

The good news was warm weather, as nice as it has been in five years I think (last year was awfully cold).

Being as heavy as I’ve been in five years (186 pounds, I have been 168 when 8% body fat), I had little hope of a fast time, but the first 100 miles gave me reason to believe that I might have a modest but consistent effort for a solid finish. That didn’t work out so well.

Route

The route was easier and shorter this year due to road closures in Morgan Territory and in the Calaveras Reservoir area. But still very hard.

Early on, I missed the turn to Mt Diablo and lost 2.7 miles—can’t see aging dark signs in the dark, even with lights—at least not at high speed, and I saw two riders ahead who had missed it (at least 5 riders total including me missed the turn). Later due to a blatant RideWithGPS map error (I’ll never trust RideWithGPS again), I made another miss and in total lost probably 20 minutes. (the official ride sheet had disintegrated, so I was using my backup cue sheet from RideWithGPS, I don’t use a GPS).

I made one almost deadly mistake: I failed to look behind for a left turn into the aid station. The first Harley with a 300 pound shit-stuffed dirt bag had passed me far too close for comfort (intentionally I guess); the second one almost slammed into me, but I heard his brakes screech right behind me. I was lucky. Always, always, always look behind before turning left or right. In my defense, I was not fully alert, which is also a reason for criticism: care should rise as one fatigues and that’s the rub—when tired it’s hard to stay alert to road hazards. That I didn’t go on full alert after the first road rat passed me tells me that I was already losing it mentally, in alertness terms. That is just not like me—well, not until this year, see what follows.

I’m really discouraged since all my double centuries this year have been disappointing to uncomfortable. There are three more, and I just wonder if I should skip them, until I figure out what is going on with my body, which is not isolated to double centuries, but a general problem (inability to lose weight, bloating). I have to cut out a lot of foods and see first if that might isolate something, but food effects can take at least a week to calm down, so it’s all very confusing. And it could be something else, like a screwed-up gut biome.

What follows is more for my own reference than anything...

Performance

I took a GU and some HEED (maltodextrin mostly, in water) at the summit of Mt Hamilton which I had ascended with not great but acceptable power (200 to 215 watts). That’s well below what I ought to be able to do (250 or so), but I deemed it not too bad for this year. I descended and headed towards the next aid station, but the nutrition (which had 40mg of caffeine) seemed to have no effect at all.

I started feeling weak not long after getting down off Hamilton, about 10 miles prior to the aid station. Not physically weak as with legs, but a general inability to focus my attention. The GU and HEED feeding should have been adequate, but had not seemed to work, so I did something I do not normally do: I ate a small lunch consisting of a (1) small bag of chips, a few blueberries and two pieces of cantaloupe, 90 calorie junk drink (apple-based I think), one Oreo and some Recoverite (mostly maltodextrin with 10% whey protein).

After this modest lunch, I started out slowly so as to give my stomach a free hand at digesting (blood flow to stomach). Within about 30 minutes, my stomach was bloating up (“6 months pregnant”) and I found it extremely difficult to maintain attention on the road, feeling like I desperately wanted to fall asleep. At one point I swerved toward the center line as a car was approaching (not too fast fortunately), but I recovered and got back on the right—scared me a bit—I wonder if I has briefly gone somnolescent enough to actually, briefly, enter sleep—dunno. Still, it took another 30 minutes of sheer mental effort just to keep my mind alert. Then things started to improve—slowly—and I felt reasonably alert by the next rest stop—but badly bloated up.

Following that rest stop I went conservative—HEED (maltodextrin drink) and GU only, neither of which had any appeal but I forced it down. Slowly the bloating came down and by the last rest stop I felt half decent and power had been slowly picking up to normal levels. I had one more GU and plain water at the last rest stop, and then proceeded to ride more strongly to the finish (15 miles) than the prior 50 miles. Indeed at least for a few minutes at a time I could muster power like in the first few hours.

I had no sense of any limitation from my legs (muscles), heart rate and breathing were modest showing no particular effort; this all seems like a whole-body physiological problem starting in the gut it seems, but dragging me down in a whole-body way.

Clearly something is wrong physiologically and I think it is associated with the bloating—perhaps my stomach isn’t processing what goes in so that I’m just not getting much nutrition into the bloodstream and that’s why I feel weak. I don’t know. But it’s not confined to double centuries; whatever is dogging me has been going on for a few months (bloating, an occassional strong day but too many days of no energy). All blood tests paint me as a poster child for the picture of health (all conventional ones for a physical, plus testosterone, thyroid, blood sugar, etc).

2017 Devil Mountain Double: power (watts), heart rate and elevation profile
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