Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sick day

Today I took the first full day off in ... I don't know. It's been a little while. I was terrified yesterday that I might be coming down with the flu. I experienced one of those flash fevers where it's all you can do to stumble to the bathroom before you pass out. Then I used my dinner break to take an 80-minute nap (my boss was really reluctant to let me leave work because half the staff is out sick right now, and I felt just guilty enough about it to cave in.) I spent the rest of the evening slumped over my desk, went home and slept for nearly 10 hours, and woke up feeling at least 70 percent better. Not better enough to justify plowing right back into my routine, but better enough to mill around the house looking for productive things to do.

One thing I did was tape a thick layer of some old-fashioned, Home Depot-style bubble insulation around my Camelbak hose. I have had endless problems with water freezing inside the hose, even after I bought an insulated bladder, and a brand new thermal kit, and took every single precaution recommended to me, including, but not limited to, gently blowing water out of the hose after each drink, forcibly blowing water out of the hose after each drink and burying the hose and finally the entire backpack in as many clothing layers as I can muster. So I went for broke. Geoff says I look like I'm ready to join the Ghostbusters. If my system still freezes, I'll be no worse off than all the other times I had to drink straight from the bladder. However, anything that freezes inside this hose will probably never become unfrozen.

I also have been sewing small pockets inside my first thermal layer for miscellanious items that I want to keep close to my body: Lighters, camera, snacks, etc. I'm positioning them so that they're close to my underarms, but still against the vapor barrier, so hopefully they won't get too, um, moisturized. Then I spent the morning doing some math, and I think I have the specific items for my drop bag gear list about 91.3 percent finalized. I get two drop bags over the course of the race, spaced 1-2 days apart depending on how well things go for me. I'm planning for ~12,000 calories in each one, along with fuel, batteries and heat packs. And yes, there will be Pop Tarts.

Besides the sore throat and lung-ripping cough, I think I'm nearly done being sick. I'm still crossing my fingers that it's a wimpy little bug after all.


  1. Yeesh--maybe Geoff could whip up some spicy Indian food to blast that cold right the heck out of you! I've also been reading some of the blogs you link to & think it might be worth the smile factor for you to bring a couple gummi worms along for your ride.

    As an aside, it took several tries for me to convince my husband that people actually bike off-road in Alaska in the wintertime. We'll both be rooting for you from Pittsburgh!

  2. Lol, who you gonna call...
    I'm thinking about modifying a couple Nalgene bottles with short hoses, stick those in OR bottle parkas and rig up some sort of harness to hang off my chest. The short straight hose would drain back on it's own, the hose would be easily kept completely inside my jacket, and I think there's plenty of heat coming off my chest to keep everything working. And if all else fails I could always just screw off the cap and drink out of the bottle. You can throw bottles in a pot and thaw them back out with a stove too. Have to do some experimenting, might be too much of a hassle on front though. Or maybe just stick them on my back and run the hose inside my clothes and come up from under my arm. The hose always seems to freeze right on top of my shoulder first, at least when I forget to blow the water back out anyways.

    Good to hear you're feeling better.


  3. mix in a little rum with your drink. should lower the freezing level a bit! ;-)

  4. I'll be interested to see if the Ghostbuster method works for you. I too have had endless problems keeping the hoses from freezing when hiking.

  5. It is too bad you can not route the hose between the base layer and the second layer. That would keep the hose warm enough so that it would not freeze. I think to do this you would have to extend your hose length and some how have it run thrugh loops or open pockets to hold it in place. The only other thing to overcome would be attaching it to your bladder. Just throwing ideas out and maybe someone may be bold enough to try it. Oh and were to have it come out so it is easy to access.

  6. Best of luck to you on your race!

  7. Good you're feeling a bit better. I just had a flash thought of somehow useing those hand warmer packets as heaters along your hose or next to the bladder to keep the temperture up. packets are small and lite so maybe wouldn't be too bulky or trouble.

  8. oh man, that sucks you are feeling so sick! but look on the bright side - you'll get it all out of your system and be in perfect health for the big journey!

  9. just found your how you go "full bore" into, the photos are awesome....

    thanks much

  10. rest up.

    you're running out of time to be sick before the big event. don't rush back before you're healed up and feeling 'normal'

    then kick some ass

  11. I agree with the above. Rest up, get well, be safe and mix a little rum in to lower the freezing point. Best wishes and good luck.

  12. We've got that, my wife and I. The worst part goes by pretty fast, the cough hangs on a bit. It went through the office like fire in a dynamite factory. Not satisfied to have just the basic symptoms, I decided to throw in ear infections!

    hang in there, focus your energy on recovery.

    Luck to you on the trail.

    Yr Pal DrCodfish

  13. Love your blog -inspirational.

    RE: your hydration project

    This weekend was my final sub-zero ride with a camelback style system. I was riding with a nice couple named Bill and Kathi. My bestest 1/2", pipe-insulation wrapped hose (with hand warmer enhancements), business end tucked in my armpit, froze. It was -10 F average, -20 F announced with enthusiasm by a certain fun-meter equipped rider.

    Not wanting to diminish the pleasure of the ride (by bonking), I shamelessly got my fluids from the OR style Nalgene water bottle insulators that my riding companions swear by.

    The quick freeze-up, the added "back-sweat" are the reasons why I have forsaken the bladder-style drinking for winter riding.

    My riding partners knew the best solution, but also knew that different people have different solutions. They gently guided me towards the right answer.

    Dhart, a well trained Ultrasport racer on also uses waterbottles mounted in the style of the early tour-de-france on the front of the bar.

    At risk of making them completely unavailable, the older OR water bottle insulators are superior to the latest for insulation.( I have on good authority...)

    Have a great race!


  14. T,

    Thanks for your input. Sounds like a great ride!

    I have as little faith in Camelbaks as anyone, and know well those insulated bottles you speak of. There's a couple of reasons I've chosen to stick with the camelbak.

    1.) I have no good way to mount those bottles to my current setup.
    2.) I have a lot more water-carrying capacity in my Camelbak, especially if I go with the (tubeless) 6-liter MSR bladder I am considering.
    3.) I have a vapor barrier that minimizes the escape of "back sweat."
    4.) I am already planning to carry a small insulated bottle in one of my poggies to complement the possibly tubeless (or frozen) bladder.
    5.) I am not fond of drinking out of bottles on the bike. Feeding myself is hard enough. To me, water in a frame-mounted bottle with a screw-top lid is nearly as inaccessible as water in a bladder inside a backpack.
    6.) You may say I am planning on carrying too much water. I say I am not comfortable with stopping in the middle of the day to melt snow unless I have to.
    7.) As far as I understand it, those insulated bottles aren't impervious to freezing. And once they are frozen, they become useless.

    Bill and Kathi have more experience with this stuff that almost anyone, and I have no doubt that they know exactly what they're swearing by. But we all have our own needs, and I guess we all need to make our own mistakes.

    Thanks again for the advice!

  15. Jill, I'm not sure if you are planning on using a front rack at this stage or not.

    And by all means make your own decisions that you're comfortable with.

    On my Pugs, I mounted my insulated bottle holders (mine are from Granite Gear) to my rack and fork legs with zip ties. Lots of zip ties...but I could put them right where I wanted them and there is no noticeable sway when riding at all.

    I have two mounted on one side and one on the other. And yes, of course they can freeze solid if I don't drink the fluids within quickly enough. But the bottles are also easily removed and taken into a sleeping bag at night.

    Best of luck in your endeavor. Be safe. Keep up the great riding and pics. Cheers!

  16. Came across this.


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