The magnesium might have helped: That was the only serious cramp I had all day, and it was fleeting.
The ride crossed into Oregon on the Columbia River, and began a grueling stretch on U.S. 30 that contained many gradual climbs. I began to flag. I would try to latch onto a pace line, but I couldn't keep up.
I got very tired, and things got very, very dark. I began wondering if I'd taken on an impossible challenge. I started thinking about calling my wife to come pick me up, a shameful proposition with which my mind began an annoying constant flirtation.
These dark thoughts are a sign of hitting the wall, Clark said.
"Your brain relies on blood sugar, and can turn against you when blood sugar is low," she said. "Your brain starts telling nasty stories, like 'I don't want to do this, why are we doing this, I'm not having any fun.'"
I rolled into St. Helens on my last legs. The day was becoming hot, and I trudged through a mister to cool myself down before heading to the food bar.
Just looking at the sandwiches and wraps made me feel nauseated, and I knew I wouldn't be able to keep them down. But I needed to eat. What to do?
One item on the table looked great -- fresh watermelon. I gorged myself, eating six slices without a thought. I also sucked down a sports gel, which delivered 100 calories of pure sugar to my system.
I got back on the bike and rolled out of St. Helens on pure mind games, figuring no matter how bad off I was, I could still finish. It was only 30 miles, after all, just a mere training ride.
And then a miracle happened. As a pace line passed, I jumped on and found that I could keep up, even though they were riding at a brisk 21 miles per hour. The watermelon and sports gel had done the trick.
"You were just done physically. You had maxed out. And then you fed yourself," Kleiner said. "The carbohydrate loading you do b
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