My California training camp seemed to have taken a lot more out of me than I expected. I arrived home thinking I was in pretty good shape, somewhat awake, somewhat alert. This despite not sleeping for more than a couple hours in the prior 26, and then, later, not sleeping any more for the next 8 or 10 hours.
Because of this, the intense and long day I had before I left, and probably the accumulated fatigue from the prior 9 or 10 days of riding, I spent the rest of the week in a semi-delirious haze. I couldn't even check my bike until Sunday (or was it Saturday?) afternoon.
But now, with my head more in sync with the rest of the world, I can look back at this last week with a bit more clarity.
That last ride in California, the one to the peak of Palomar, was quite a day. I found the guy's name who I saw on Palomar, descending with Chris Horner. Remi McManus. Even a domestic pro like himself was impressed with the ProTour sightings, enough so that he took a picture of his ride companions. So my ProTour sighting report has to be revised. Horner was the "cycling journalist" with Gerolsteiner so I actually saw him twice.
Since he passed me in 2007 wearing his Predictor-Lotto colors, he seems to be a theme on my California training camps.
Another irritant in my attempt to recover from the long trip has been my skin. In particular the sun poisoning I managed to get in the last three days of riding has made me mighty uncomfortable. The start was the no-sun-block 7 hours in the sun of Palms Springs (what was I thinking?). But it didn't really get me, although I was a bit red afterwards.
It was the Palomar ride (with sun block) that did me in. I felt queasy about 5 hours into the ride, a familiar feeling during my 2008 training camp. I felt this queasiness on all my longer rides but I simply brushed it off as something due to the length of the ride. I now know why - it's the onset of the sun poisoning.
The rash-like bumps all over the exposed parts of my arms and legs tell the story. I guess the long rides (I used a weak sunblock on most days I rode) eventually exposed me to enough UV rays that my body became pretty unhappy after 4 or 5 hours in the sun.
Although I'd like to say that it might be psychosomatic, I have experienced the same symptoms previously, and in a much more controlled environment. Many years ago, in a quest to get rid of my very distinct tan lines, I went to a local tanning salon. This was during the dead of winter so I had very little sun exposure otherwise. The first or second session in the salon got me overexposed (they looked at my somewhat tan arms and face and assumed I was tan everywhere). I left the salon feeling a bit odd, like my body wanted to rebel in some way. Before I got home (a mile away) I felt queasy, and the following morning I'd have the peculiar bumps just like the ones that are now fading from my arms and legs. I cut back on the session lengths (going half the "recommended" length, even when I really had a tan) and after a month a year for two years, I stopped going completely.
Today my arms and legs are only mildly itchy and my skin feels like I have permanent goose bumps, not hundreds of tiny mosquito bites.
As mentioned before, I finally got around to assembling my bike. Normally I do it the day I get back so that, first, I can ride it, and second, so I can check its condition.
Truth be told, I was a bit worried about the latter. With my initial flight canceled due to mechanicals (after they loaded the plane), the next flight delayed due to weather, and a final switch to a redeye flight, I figured my bike has been loaded and unloaded a few times. And I'm sure the baggage handlers weren't happy about loading and unloading the same bags. So, in my imagination, this is what I pictured.
"Hustle, hustle, 442's got to be ready in 5 minutes."
"Okay, okay, just tell the idiot with this huge bag that next time he better use smaller bags. I'm gonna throw my back out trying to move this thing."
Then 30 minutes later...
"Okay boys, we gotta unload these bags from 442 and moved to 628."
"Fer crying out loud, it's that frickin' biggest bag again. And it has a frickin' 'fragile' sticker on it."
"Look, just get the bags off the plane."
And then they drag the bike bag on the ground and toss it as hard as they can into the baggage trailer.
Then a few hours later...
"Boys, I hate to do this to you but I need some bags off of 628. They're going on 541."
"Crap, look, it's that stupid frickin' big bag again."
Thump, drag, thump.
So anyway, I sort of dreaded opening this thing up. I figured I'd find shards of carbon and little crumpled pieces of aluminum, all tied together with some stainless steel cables and kevlar tire bead cords.
Instead, I found a perfectly packed bike. All the pieces were there. My hurried packing job had been enough, the baggage handlers more civil than my imagination.
So, today, for the first time in almost a week, I'll ride my bike.
Now, ironically, it's 10 degrees WARMER in Connecticut than in California right now. Heck, I may ride outside. Luckily it's raining and overcast. This means I can skip the sun block.