OPINION COLUMNS

Two wheels are tough; Hydration is overrated … unless you’re cycling

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, February 4, 2017
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Riding Along

RIDING ALONG – David Talley and Racey Burden went for a bike ride Wednesday. David races competitively, and Racey very clearly does not. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, in much the same way that you can tell me that I should probably hydrate for my first bike ride in years and I still won’t do it.

Or, this is the story of the time David and I taught each other about our hobbies, and I almost passed out.

For this month’s column, our editor Kristen had a great idea – David could take me cycling (something he’s very passionate about and of which I know nothing), and I could take David horseback riding (I used to ride competitively, and David had never been on a horse before.). It was the perfect plan, really.

Except that I am, admittedly, in terrible shape. Probably because I loathe working out. I’m also terrible about drinking the required 64 ounces of water a day (It is 64, right? Or is it more now? I don’t know). The point is that I should have known I would suffer for my slothful ways from the second Kristen suggested this column.

David arrived at my house Wednesday morning with two road bikes and some special cycling snacks. The plan was simple – we ride down my road until we reached Farm Road 730, then turn back around. My road doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and the route isn’t that long, like maybe 5 miles. I realized about ten minutes before David was supposed to get there that I hadn’t had any water the day before, which seemed like a bad way to start off the ride, so I drank about half a bottle and thought, ‘This will be fine.’

It was not fine.

Everything started out OK. There’s a reason people say, “it’s just like riding a bike,” when they talk about picking up old skills. After a few minutes, I felt my sense of balance coming back, and I could steer easier. The road bike was way different from any others I’d ridden in that I had to stretch uncomfortably to reach the handlebars, but other than an aching back and some hard breathing I was feeling all right.

Then we stopped at the halfway point to adjust my bike seat, and the second I stepped down I saw black closing in around the edges of my vision.

As a kid, I used to get that light-headed, dizzy feeling all the time after exercise, but this was the first time it had hit me in a while. In an effort to not actually pass out in the middle of the road, I told David, “I really don’t feel well” and promptly sat down.

David was really cool about it. He let me sit there for a few minutes before we got back on the bikes and headed home. He told me several stories about rides where he’d gotten sick (granted, those were endurance races), which I thought was nice of him. I still felt pathetic, but hey, we made it to the end. David had me try his cycling snacks – there was a waffle thing that tasted like maple syrup which I liked, and a disgusting gelatin blob that tasted like margaritas which I did not like – and then he headed out. After David left, I told my very fat dog that we needed to start running together, and she begged me for more food.

The next day was my turn to show off my sport, and it went much better. Kinzee at NRS was gracious enough to take us on a trail ride across the ranch land on two very mild-mannered quarter horses, which I think is the perfect way to introduce a nervous beginner like David to riding.

Despite not having ridden Western in forever (I competed in hunt seat and dressage in high school and college), I really enjoyed our morning on the trail. My horse, Millie, was a pretty chill mare who tolerated me holding my reins like we were about to take on some fences rather than the standard one-hand hold used for ranch horses. Kinzee taught us a lot about how the actual ranch at NRS operates, which was interesting, and David seemed to gradually get over his fear of being up so much higher than his bike.

After our experiment ended I had learned three things: 1. I miss riding regularly and would like to find a way to do it more often. 2. I really need to work out more. 3. I need to up my water intake.

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but maybe I can take care of those three things in 2017 anyway.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

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