Red head at 40 degrees! (Sardinia)

Hugh, here is one on racing at 40 degrees:

Saturday, 26th of June, 2006
I left my house which is on the coast here in Sardinia to go to the weekly Saturday race at 2:30pm and the car thermometer told me it was 29 degrees which I have gotten used to of late, so I wasn’t worried about racing in this heat. 20 minutes later as I moved inland it was reading 35 degrees (my limit) and another 20 minutes later is was flashing between 40 and 41. Arrived at the sign-on and opened the car door and felt the full blast of 40 degrees and said to myself “spectator” and got back into the car and whacked on the air-con. Just then, a couple of my teammates pulled in beside me and started taking the piss out of me saying I was going soft etc.

I was talked into it and convinced myself that it would be an experience anyway if nothing else and also the course was 5 laps so I had plenty of opportunity to pull out thinking to myself that maybe I would get 2 laps in.

I had brought 5 litres of water and a few cokes so was ok for hydration and I had been drinking for the previous hour. I drank about 2 litres before the race and 2 cokes but a strange thing I noticed was that I never felt the need to go to the toilet which meant my body was absorbing close to 100% of the liquid. In Ireland I would have to stop drinking at least a half hour before the race started to avoid having to go during the race. The water for the race had to be left in an ice bag right up to 5 minutes before the start as that would boil in the heat. I could only carry 2 bottles so I had no idea how long they would last.

Starting the race, the only thoughts in my mind were, stick in the group, do the absolute minimum to get around, keep drinking, try to stay close to the gutter where you could take advantage of the shade from trees, and pull out immediately if the going gets tough.

The race was 5 laps of a 14 km circuit on mainly flat roads with an uphill finish so not too bad. When we got going, I had already taken water before the first turn at 500 metres which was a paranoia drink I would say. The first lap was the usual jumping around with no real pressure so I kept going for the second where there was some hard attacking which forced the pace. During this lap I will never forget how dry my mouth felt at one stage – an Arab`s sandal is all I can say. I think I heard a hissing noise when I took a drink after a not been able to get to the bottle for a while due to the fast pace. There was a line out through the start/finish line for the 3rd lap so I had to keep going for another lap. During this lap the water in my bottle had reached ambient (40 degrees) and was starting to cause me stomach problems and I felt like vomiting. I could have taken water from a support motorbike but this was cold and this would cause stomach cramping due to the temperature difference so I have been told to stick with the hot stuff as vomiting is better than cramping. Something kept me going through lap 4 and as we hit the bell the temperatures had take their toll and the field was down to about 30 with only 3 riders up the road and I had a crazy idea to jump away on the back straight into the wind. That never happened and the bunch sprinted in for 4th place and I managed 8th overall and 3rd in my category (33 – 39 years). Some 3 lunatics spent the entire race out their own doing up an over which I could only liken to “self-harm”.

The whole last lap I could only think about the cool can of coke that I had left in the car and when I got back to the car park it was attacked. Re-hydration consisted of 2ltrs of water, 3 glasses of coke in the local bar, and 2 ice creams. I had won wine as my prize but that was too hot to swallow.

This can only happen in Italy – the winner gets a big pallet of fresh fish !