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Hit a wall (not a real one) cycling today - what happened?

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Hit a wall (not a real one) cycling today - what happened?

Old 07-12-20, 12:47 AM
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shed
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Hit a wall (not a real one) cycling today - what happened?

At about 2 hours today, I hit a complete wall cycling. Could barely go more than a mile slowly without needing to stop for 5mins, with my chest hurting and my heart pounding. Last 4 miles took 40mins with the stops.

Background,

I had a reasonably big breakfast (Strada) about 8am. I started riding at 11am, stopped at about an hour for 5mins and had a small breakfast bar, and then at about an hour 45mins in, I just hit this wall physically.

Other info, ride nearly all flat on bike paths. Weather was hotter than normal for me (90F), but I was drinking (water) throughout.

Background, I'm not particularly fit, but I've been getting better over the last 2 years, and this was the worst I've been by far.

So what happened. My wife think it may have been electrolytes. I'm thinking more Carbs. Heat may have played a role. Is this the wall marathon runners get? Something else?

I know I definitely don't want it to happen again, because it was no fun at all.
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Old 07-12-20, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by shed View Post
At about 2 hours today, I hit a complete wall cycling. Could barely go more than a mile slowly without needing to stop for 5mins, with my chest hurting and my heart pounding. Last 4 miles took 40mins with the stops.

Background,

I had a reasonably big breakfast (Strada) about 8am. I started riding at 11am, stopped at about an hour for 5mins and had a small breakfast bar, and then at about an hour 45mins in, I just hit this wall physically.

Other info, ride nearly all flat on bike paths. Weather was hotter than normal for me (90F), but I was drinking (water) throughout.

Background, I'm not particularly fit, but I've been getting better over the last 2 years, and this was the worst I've been by far.

So what happened. My wife think it may have been electrolytes. I'm thinking more Carbs. Heat may have played a role. Is this the wall marathon runners get? Something else?

I know I definitely don't want it to happen again, because it was no fun at all.

Heat exhaustion? Not enough fluids? You seem to have eaten plenty of carbs for a two hour ride, but you donít mention drinking anything in 90F heat. Your wife is probably right.
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Old 07-12-20, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by shed View Post
At about 2 hours today, I hit a complete wall cycling ... Weather was hotter than normal for me (90F), but I was drinking (water) throughout.
Some guesses ...

How much had you been drinking in the ~8hrs prior to this ride?

Temperatures and hard effort can be killers, if not really well hydrated. Even if one has sufficient fuel from food.

Of course, a meal might not well give you much energy 45mins later. Depends on what it was, in terms of its macronutrients. Compare what you'd eaten to the amount of estimated calorie expenditure of the effort. Might have been better served having a higher-energy, more easily-absorbed form of fuel.

In my years as a distance runner, invariably when I simply ran out of gas it was due to having run out of fuel sufficient to sustain that level of effort for that long. But, invariably when I started having respiratory "distress" of sorts (pounding heart, sweat drying up, focusing problems, etc) along with apparent lack of "energy" ... it was due to lack of hydration.

Something to look at, the next several times you're anticipating a hard multi-hour effort in heat.

Tip: in the several hours prior to such an effort, ensure your urine is clear. If not, then likely you're not hydrated enough, even before the activity begins. On a normal ride or run, with normal temps, that's one thing. But on a route where the temperatures are putting a strain on you, decent hydration is vital.
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Old 07-12-20, 05:38 AM
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Water!!!
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Old 07-12-20, 05:52 AM
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Whenever someone mentions chest pain, I would encourage him to seek medical attention. When dehydrated my pulse will increase, but I have no chest pain.
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Old 07-12-20, 06:51 AM
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I vote for electrolytes and heat exhaustion. Not a good idea to push on once that hits you, it can be dangerous. Google it. https://www.outsideonline.com/bcse/s...eat?keys=heat+
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Old 07-12-20, 07:52 AM
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I think chest pain would be cause to get checked out to be safe.

When I have hit a wall a couple of times, itís been my legs that have given out. I call it, ďare my brakes on?Ē syndrome. As in, it feels like Iím pedaling with my brakes engaged!
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Old 07-12-20, 08:01 AM
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Agreed, I regularly go to collapse, but as long as I am hydrating and eating, it is a gradual thing, but no chest pain. Usually back, arms, legs, etc. My wall right now seems to be four hours.
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Old 07-12-20, 08:35 AM
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Only had it happen once-that was more than enough! No chest pain, but ran out of hydration on a long ride. Legs felt like wet noodles. Mine was definitely lack of hydration and heat. You said you were drinking water throughout, so could be depleted electrolytes and heat combo. But with the chest pain and pounding heart, think it advisable to see a doc and get checked out. You don't want to find out the hard way that it wasn't something as simple as not eating enough, heat, and electrolyte depletion.

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Old 07-12-20, 09:44 AM
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"Weather was hotter than normal for me (90F), but I was drinking (water) throughout."

What was feel temperature, humidity, sun UV index? Were you sweating heavily as one would expected or not so much? Your body temperature was elevated or normal under circumstances? How was the mental state, clear thinking or some confusion, any headache?
Some described symptoms: like heart pounding, physical exhaustion point to heat exhaustion, prelude to heat stroke.

I had something similar after 1h cycling in sunny, hot, humid weather, and after going through all the factors (food, water, health, fitness, ...) arrived at overheating, first signs of heat stroke. I remember physical exhaustion, some mental confusion, not really sweaty and some headache. Luckily I was only 1 mile from my car so after 10min in the shade, which helped only marginally i limped to my car and air conditioning. I try to avoid very hot days, and try to start and finish early when the sun is still mostly benign. For me, based on experience, very hot, humid, sunny weather and physical exertion do not mix well.

"heat stroke, where the body temperature rises to dangerous levels, can occur. Heavy sweating will suddenly stop, the riders skin will feel cold and clammy and they may complain of feeling cold despite the heat.""Heatstroke signs and symptoms include:
  • High body temperature. A core body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher, obtained with a rectal thermometer, is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache. Your head may throb."
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Old 07-12-20, 09:48 AM
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I agree heat exhaustion.I would probably see a doc for an ekg because of the chest pain.
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Old 07-12-20, 10:02 AM
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Really really appreciate the advice here.

Had only one beer the night before, and I'd only had a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, but didn't drink anything before the ride.

I don't want to overstate the chest pain, it was a dull pain all across my chest, and I had a clear EKG a couple of years ago, but I agree I should probably check with doctor (though don't really want to in a hospital in current COVID state).

I checked my heart rate after (I record on smart watch), and I hit 169 max during the last bit, which is about 10-15 higher than I normally hit, and I think close to my max.
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Old 07-12-20, 12:18 PM
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Sounds like heat exhaustion. Easier to get when you older.
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Old 07-12-20, 01:07 PM
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I don’t think it was fuel related as you hadn’t really burned enough calories for it to be that.

So I’m guessing it was hydration or heat related. Next time you might think about drinking more before and during the ride and also adding some electrolytes before and while riding.

I take electrolyte capsules along with fluids and those really help me, but I’m in pretty humid area.
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Old 07-12-20, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by shed View Post
Really really appreciate the advice here.

Had only one beer the night before, and I'd only had a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, but didn't drink anything before the ride.

... I hit 169 max during the last bit, which is about 10-15 higher than I normally hit, and I think close to my max.
Doesn't sound like a lot of fluids, there. Certainly not for a hard effort and/or an effort in the heat.

Back in the day, when I ran hard distances, over the course of the last couple hours before bed I'd often chug 60+ ounces of fluids. Plus, a couple hours before the exercise, I'd put down another 30+ ounces or so. By the time of the effort, I'd have urinated a few times and gone "clear." Was often vital to do that on days where it was definitely going to get hot, particularly if also humid.

On the "chest aches" thing, definitely check with the physician. Worth a simple eval, if nothing else.
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Old 07-12-20, 01:48 PM
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I don't want to overstate the chest pain, it was a dull pain all across my chest, and I had a clear EKG a couple of years ago, but I agree I should probably check with doctor (though don't really want to in a hospital in current COVID stateI


Yes a doctors office waiting room is not the safest place to be for a plus 60 person.Try to stay more hydrated on a daily basis.I have done a bunch of week long tours in 90 + and 90+ humidity and the older I get the harder it is to avoid heat related issues. I drink xtra water and electrolytes the nite before.I have not had to call the sag wagon yet......
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Old 07-12-20, 02:23 PM
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Coffee may not be a diuretic, but it's not an efficient way to hydrate. Based on my experience with symptoms you've mentioned, it's almost always been insufficient water and/or insufficient electrolytes. I've never had chest pain.Man, that heat and humidity can really get at you!

I've had to spend more time in docs' offices than I'd like over the past few months (just got a pacemaker implanted). My docs don't have patients in their waiting rooms. They space patients out one at a time. I may have to wait, but I've been alone.

There's only one way of knowing about your doc's office practice - call the office. Find out what they do to minimize the C-19 risk. Decide if it's enough for you. Your heart has changed in the past few years. It may still be in great shape, in fact, but beat too fast or too slow (or both, which is why I got a pacer. Now my doc will want me to take a med that slows down my HR.). In any case, a current EKG, maybe a stress EKG, is probably something your doc will want.

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Old 07-12-20, 02:27 PM
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Almost certainly heat/hydration. In hot weather I keep an eye on my heart rate. I have a good feel for what it should be based on my exertion, so when I see it some 20 bpm higher than what I expect I will back off, drink, and spray my head and jersey with water. It’s a pretty reliable indicator for me and I see this before I start feeling wonky. Also, especially on hot days I will make a point to drink at least one glass of water as soon as I get up, before my normal coffee. I also drop a Nuun tablet in one of my bottles. I will switch to that bottle after 90 min or so of riding.
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Old 07-13-20, 07:43 AM
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"Hitting the wall" is a real thing. Barring any other medical conditions, it typically means you've used up your available glycogen for energy, and your body starts to convert its fat stores into energy, which is a much slower process – hence the sudden fatigue. We typically store 1500-2000 calories of energy; this is why fueling up is important.

But for the OP, I do agree it sounds like heat exhaustion/hydration issue.
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Old 07-13-20, 09:30 AM
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Easiest way to assess hydration is unclothed before and after ride weight. Even in winter I will lose 2-3# weight on a
40-50 mile ride. In the summer 3# is minimum and have lost upto 5#, that is at a 140-143# base and in the summer
I also keep track of fluid intake, which can range from 3 to 5# (48-80oz fluid). Water is most readily absorbed but the
general limit of stomach emptying is in the 750-1000ml/ hour range which is why if you drink truly heroic amounts of
fluid it just hangs around in your bloated stomach being metered out to the small intestine where most absorption
occurs at a rate of under 1 liter/hour. Since your sweat rate can easily exceed that you gradually go into deficit hence
my recommendation of pre and post ride weights to assess this. No easy way to assess electrolytes apart from salt
cravings post ride. FWIW any carbs in the fluid you drink will increase absorption rate at low levels (rationale for
the powerade/gatorade crowd) but slow absorption at more typical soft drink levels of carbs.

I would also strongly urge some sort of cardiac evaluation in view of the chest pain aspect. MD offices are well aware
of covid and all take precautions and the vast majority of cardiac evaluations are done outside of hospitals.
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Old 07-27-20, 10:37 PM
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So a follow up to this post. Last Saturday, I deliberately rode the exact same route. Same breakfast, but I downed 16 oz of water before; and had 50/50 water/gatorade. It was about 5 degrees lower heat probably a bit more, at around 85. I felt completely fine the whole ride; could probably have done another 10 miles.

What are my conclusions? Firstly I think the consensus you and my wife came too around heat exhaustion and deydration were accurate (thank you). Secondly probably not going to cycle in 90+ anymore, not until I up my fitness. Fortunatelty this being the bay area, I can nearly always find that.
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Old 07-28-20, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by shed View Post
So a follow up to this post. Last Saturday, I deliberately rode the exact same route. Same breakfast, but I downed 16 oz of water before; and had 50/50 water/gatorade. It was about 5 degrees lower heat probably a bit more, at around 85. I felt completely fine the whole ride; could probably have done another 10 miles.

What are my conclusions? Firstly I think the consensus you and my wife came too around heat exhaustion and deydration were accurate (thank you). Secondly probably not going to cycle in 90+ anymore, not until I up my fitness. Fortunatelty this being the bay area, I can nearly always find that.
Good to see that some changes seemingly resulted in good improvement.

Not really a problem, per se, to exercise hard in heat. You just need to be extremely focused on sufficient prep, sufficient periodic recovery stints (reduced-output miles), serious hydration long before you ever begin the exercise. Just be cautious, conservative, and prep early for the conditions.

Used to run and cycle in 100ļF conditions, back in the day. Was extremely fit (cardiovascularly and strength-wise). Always paid great attention to expected conditions, prepared early, brought plenty of hydration. Always moderated my efforts to incorporate period resting periods within the exercise (of lower-effort, reduced-cadence, flatter sections, etc). Always paid attention to my overall fitness that season, with respect to how hard "hard" could be for me. Over-did it once, severely. Spent the remainder of the day in dicey condition. Severely under-hydrated for the degree of heat, and the length of the route was underestimated as well. Bad combination. Once, in ~10 years of competitive athletics.

Not a problem. Just be aggressively aware, listen to your body, monitor conditions, have plenty of those little recovery stints throughout the effort. Can make all the difference.
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Old 07-28-20, 02:49 PM
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Lots of good information here. One thing I don't hear very much about, is that you can be fully hydrated and still overheat. You can get confused during heat stroke. A friend of mine stopped, but would not get into the air conditioned store about 100 feet away.
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Old 07-28-20, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
Lots of good information here. One thing I don't hear very much about, is that you can be fully hydrated and still overheat. You can get confused during heat stroke. A friend of mine stopped, but would not get into the air conditioned store about 100 feet away.
Confusion is a major symptom of hyponatremia. In the case of your rider, it's either early onset Alzheimer's or hyponatremia. If the person is sweating, has peed recently, and is confused, electrolytes stat! It can be fatal or at least merit a ride in the aid car. We had a rider on a hot 1200 who was obviously in trouble and simply would not quit riding. She had to be restrained at a control until the aid car came. Hyponatremia.
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