Helen took this video of me about 24 hours after the ride.
She reckoned I always forgot how bad I felt after a ride,
so was taking this as evidence for future use. It does give
a good idea of what I looked like!
So how does riding a 1,010 km course over a 53.5 hour period affect the body? The video, which Helen took a day after the race ended, might give a more picturesque idea about my general condition. However, I also jotted down a list to document things a bit more thoroughly. The discomfort definitely doesn't stop with race-end; in some ways it increases.
Mouth ulcers. I first became aware of these about two-thirds into the ride, but they didn't affect me much while riding. However, my first meal after the ride was uncomfortable to eat and shortened because of the ulcers (and because of tiredness). The ulcers were even sorer the next day and made eating difficult; I probably ate about half as much as I should have because of them. My treatment initially was hot salt water rinses and the applying dental gel for the gums and mouth. They lasted about a week. To reduce this in future races, I’ll brush my teeth more frequently.
Saddle sores. These definitely hurt towards the end of the ride. They also made sitting down difficult for several days afterwards. Even now, two weeks afterwards, there’s a slight discomfort. There were mainly two areas of saddle sores. One was around the sit bones. A day after the ride, both buttock cheeks had fiery red circles, with a big yellow yolk-like thing in the middle of the right circle (blistering). The other was around the crease at the top of both inner thighs, which I think may have been the result of being in the aero-bar position. Both sets of areas were also swollen and abrasion-like. One of the latter areas had a couple of lesions that were filled with a white exudate (not puss), which did not heal for a week and a half. I treated the general area with a skin-repair gel that included antiseptic, and also used cold presses to get rid of the general swelling. To reduce onset in future races, I think: (1) more riding; (2) even more shammy cream; and (3) more frequent changes of trousers.
Left foot and lower leg. These caused problems in the race and, two weeks later, I still have a slightly swollen ankle. The most likely cause is the position of my cleats and possibly bike position. The balls of my foot felt bruised, as did my big toe, then the top of my foot felt sore and swollen, with pain finally shooting up the outside of the lower part of my lower leg. The whole foot was swollen for about a week afterwards.
Knees. Both knees stung at times during the race, as they did in my 4-lapper of Taupo. The pain was around and just under the lower part of the knee-cap. It probably hurt for a week afterwards. I’m not too sure about prevention. Maybe my saddle is too low?
Wrists. Both wrists were painful while riding. I think they recovered fairly quickly though. My guess is that the best prevention is to use those core muscles more and only hold the handle-bar lightly, although I did do my best with this. I should also try to keep my wrists straight.
Left hand. A couple of things affected my left hand. One is that it had no strength afterwards. I couldn’t lift anything. Full strength has not yet returned. The other is that the fingertips are numb and tingly, sometimes quite uncomfortably so. This has not gone away. A bit of internet research suggests that the latter might be carpal tunnel syndrome, with swelling around the wrist compressing the median nerve. I’m not sure how I got this; probably from holding the handle-bars too tight.
Those are the key ones, but the following also applied.
Muscles. No surprise here! My muscles stung for a couple of few afterwards.
Mental acuity. What mental acuity? My brain was very slow for several days afterwards.
Tiredness. No surprise here. The first week was quite a struggle, both physically and mentally.
Eyes. My eyes couldn't focus for a while afterwards, making reading difficult.
Sweating. For several days, I was quite feverish at night, with sopping sheets.
So it appears that I got off really lightly. No problems with my neck, which is something I was worried about with using the aero-bars. No crashes and associated injuries. However, all these issues are definitely something that I will need to get on top of, especially if I extend the distance even further. They will definitely impact on my performance.
Finally, something that you might find of interest is that I felt that the day or two after the ride was even tougher than it was while riding. My guess is that this was because I did not have the intense focus and distraction of riding, so could dwell more on how I was feeling. There was no self-pity, but it definitely wasn't a fun day!