Google Maps and Heat Exhaustion - A ride writeup

Sooo, in a couple weeks some riders in the Sacramento California area are looking at doing a 16 mile muni ride. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to go riding with these folks for a while, and it looked like scheduling was going to work out great. But 16 miles (at least for me and my son) is a long way.

On Saturday my son and I decided to try a 12 miler… So I mess around on Google Maps for a while, and find what looks like a pretty great course… 9 miles of dirt, and then 3 miles of pavement, ending at a Taco Bell for lunch… with the option of going 4ish more miles home if we were feeling great. ( )

My wife dropped us off at about 8ish, and we started along. We road a nice dirt road up to a radio controlled airplane runway. We continued down into what’s called Brunswick Canyon… hit a bit of pavement by some wrecking yards, and then back out on to the dirt. There were a couple parts that were just so sandy it was impossible for us to ride… so we walked a couple short sections, nothing over 50 feet.

At about the 2.7 mile mark we take our first break… We have a choice… take one road up a rather steep hill or to take a road down the next valley. We chose the second road. This was my first bad choice…

The road in the next valley was really more of a creek bed. There were tons of rocks and boulders, and we found ourselves happy to ride 20-30 feet at a time. It was rough… but I was actually surprised and encouraged by how much we could ride. Note to self here… Google Maps might show a road, but not how good of a road it is… :frowning:

After surviving that, I go and make a wrong turn. We come down a steep hill to a gully. I figure out its probably the wrong road, but I can see where someone has recently driving down this gully… I knew I wanted to be by the river, so I figured we’d just hoof it down and hook up to where we wanted to be.

Well, we got to the bottom, and there was no way out… The gully dumped into the river. We backtracked a bit, and hiked up a really steep hill into the next valley.

Normally, I don’t mind the weight of my Torker DX much… but carrying it up a hill, and carrying my son’s as well, was a heck of a work out. The hill was too steep to push the uni ahead of me, so I put em both on my shoulders and was barely able to walk up…

We got to the top, found the road we were supposed to be on, and took that one down… Once again, we impressed ourselves with our ability to ride down a steep rocky/sandy section, and we get to the river at the right place… And take a break under a tree… 4 mile mark roughly, an hour and 22 minutes total time… I am very encouraged… especially considering the issues we’ve already had…

Google Maps shows a single track trail from here to the next picnic area. Once again… it wasn’t what we expected. It was more of a rabbit trail on a side hill than a single track… For us, its 80% unrideable… so we walk about a third of a mile… it starts to open up some, and we can start riding decent stretches of it. The river on our left is pretty full and there is no one around… This part of the trail is pretty well maintained…

At about 5 miles, we get to the next camping area, and take a good break under a tree… We actually meet a family or two that are camping… they ask us all the normal questions… is it hard? did we really ride those things all the way down here? One of them even tried it out… He was amazingly good at mounting, but wasn’t able to get far at all… (the sandy road probably had a lot to do with that… as well as his bare feet on my pinned pedals)…

We chat with them maybe 10 minutes, and then go on our way… I’m starting to feel a bit tired, and free mounting is getting to be more of a challenge. We ride along the side of a hill, around a point, and then up to a the main road… We walk a little bit of an up that we probably could have ridden, and then found a little nook in the rocks that had some shade for a break.

This was about 6 miles… the halfway point for our main ride. We took a longish break… like 20 minutes… I had a hard time catching my breath… This is also where we both ran out of water. It was about 75 degrees out already, and we had at least 3 miles before we got to civilization. I wasn’t too worried, cuz I knew that if we got into a tight spot, I could just call my wife and have her pick us up…

We start riding again. The road is rough, with lots of rocks, but very ridable. And downhill… We make probably a mile, and then find another tree to hide under and rest. There are a lot more UPDs, and I am finding my legs a bit slow to catch myself…

After this break we head out again… I am starting to get some cramping in my legs when I start… but I can quickly stretch them out… and when I am riding my legs feel fine… Just can’t quick keep my breath as well as I should…

In this stretch I have a simple UPD, that I just can’t get my leg under me on, so I fall all the way down, and both my legs cramp up. So I immediately get up and stretch them out. I was lucky enough to find a very small opening in my KH armor and draw blood.

We get to the 8 mile mark and find a tree… I lay down for a good 15 minutes… Finally my breathing got under control and I am feeling better. 9 miles is the end of the dirt, so I have it in my mind that I can do 1 more mile and have my wife pick me up.

We get going again… The road is much nicer here, and I am greatly encouraged that I was able to ride the whole mile without an UPD, and was actually feeling a bit better about life again. We get to the road, and both of us are thinking maybe we can make it after all… We grab some shade under a bridge for about another 10 minute break and we head off again.

I go to mount up, and my legs cramp up again… I can’t stay on… but my son is looking so good and wants so bad to finish… so I start walking while he rides… I walk maybe a quarter mile, and my legs are loosening up again… I hop on and ride almost a mile. We find another tree, and I lay down for about 10 minutes again.

From here we ride a little less then half a mile, and we stop at a house of someone I know. We chat a bit, finally get more water… and overall take a 10 minute break.

From there, we rode the rest of the way to Taco Bell… Finally finished… 12 miles… and my legs are still cramping, as well as my torso and shoulders.

I call my wife to pick us up, take off all the armor and stuff, and order some food. I am really exhausted… I had to dig deep to get there… I am waiting for the sugar to kick in and get some energy going. And I can hardly eat… not hungry…

After lunch, both my legs completely cramp up… hamstrings and quads… so tight I can’t hardly do anything… I jump up, grab a table, and lean over trying to get my hamstrings to let go cuz they hurt more than the quads… I lean hunched over a table for a good 3 or 5 minutes, panting like a dog. One of the employees is talking to my son wondering if they should call an ambulance…

My wife finally shows up… takes me home… gets me some electrolytes… and about 2 hours later the cramping pretty much stops…

So… total ride distance was about 12 miles… it took us overall about 5 1/2 hours… And my son was disappointed he couldn’t ride the rest of the way home… And I am already trying to plan another similar ride, this time using Gatorade or something else to drink, and more of it… :smiley:

Nice write-up; sounds like it was a pretty epic ride! As you go bigger and bigger, you’ll both expand your limits and understand them better. That which does not kill you, and all that. Oh, and you’ll also become more accustomed to being outperformed by your small child.

Good luck with Downieville! It’ll probably be less daunting; it’s long, but should be less hot (it’s mostly wooded once you come off the butte), plus you’ll have a better idea of how to feed/hydrate yourselves.

It’s never a good thing when you read this in a write up.
Good luck next month.

Great write up. Sounds like you had a great (if uncomfortable) Muni adventure. Here’s to many more.

What he says…is so true!


How come when we make wrong turns on offroad rides, they’re always down long hills? I did that on the Olmstead Loop near Auburn, and ended up descending halfway to the river on a trail that was too steep to Coker down before realizing it was definitely the wrong way. Long, slow hike up.

Sounds like quite an adventure you had! Yes, you definitely need to carry more water than you think you need, and something with electrolytes in it. On my last visit to Downieville, in July 05, it was unseasonably hot and we sweatted and drank a lot. I remember being “saturated” around mid-ride. That is, full of water but not electrolytes. I learned my lesson and will carry a bottle of Gatorade or similar for rides like Downieville. Always plain water in the Camelbak, but something else to keep up the chemicals. I also have a packet of salt tablets, which I think were courtesy of one of the sponsors at Moab. Lastly, products like Power Gel or Gu (glue-like sports supplements) also contain electrolytes. I used one of those yesterday on a 90-degree ride in Auburn. They work, but only temporarily.

Downieville is a pretty brutal ride. I don’t expect it to be hot like last time, but the downhill really gets to you and it’s long. However there is an option of waiting for us to finish and then coming back along Lavazzola road in the car.

We’re still not 100% set on Downieville. I should send out another email to find out who would like to do the ride as I didn’t know you were interested, for example. But the shuttles are running and the trails are free of snow…

Keep riding, and keep drinking. Look into investing in a hydration pack if you don’t have one. You’ll want to have plenty to drink on a no-services ride like Downieville. I like my 100 oz. Camelbak Mule, which also has some storage but not a huge amount.

Thanks John!

If we feel that we aren’t in good enough shape to not just finish but also not screw up the ride for everyone else by going too slow and taking too many breaks, then we won’t come. There will be other rides for sure, and over time we’ll get better.

I have a different course planned out for next Saturday… One that I know is at least all rideable, and that doesn’t have very many options for wrong turns… :wink:

If we can’t do that one strong, we probably won’t come… It does us no good to drive 2+ hours only to get Care-Flighted back… :D:D


Hrmmm… I reread what you wrote John and wondered if maybe my emails to the mailing list aren’t getting there… On the list I am kellyedodge at yahoo dot com…


You’re in Carson, which means you should be riding with me. I’ll PM you.

Nice ride-turned-epic. Glad you’re ok and learned from the experience. As others have said, get a hydration pack (“Camelbak” is one brand) if you don’t already have one.

Thanks for the replies!

We both had 2 liter camelback style packs… This was the first ride we had ever gotten anywhere close to drinking it all…

I guess next time we’ll add like a 32oz gatorade or something else with electrolytes in it.

I think there was something going on with me… I was sweating, but no where enough to be burning up all that water. I wasn’t going to the bathroom either… which is part of why I went thru my water so fast…

Later that evening and all through the night I had to use the bathroom like crazy… I probably had enough water, but without the electrolytes my body wasn’t processing it right or something like that?

Mostly I just know that cramping muscles are no fun… :smiley:


Great write-up–glad it turned out well. I live in Chico, CA, where the temps hit triple-digits all summer long, and our early morning rides (done before 8:30) end with temps in the upper 80s, so I know about dehydration issues. I hate gatorade and those types of drinks, so I take along Lava Salts, an electrolyte capsule, and a 3-liter camelbak. Since using the electrolyte supplements, I haven’t had cramping or headaches or any of the typical bonking symptoms. Some people have had stomach issues with the capsules, though, so ymmv.

As a side note, I’ve also not gotten any emails about the specifics for this ride, although I got a general “We’re trying to plan a ride for later in June” email from John a week or so ago.

As someone with two kids who muni with me (16 and 13, one who’s pretty proficient and one who’s just started coming on our rides recently), I’d be more than interested in meeting up for one of the rides John organizes (or any other ride, for that matter), and we could stick together and not need to worry about being slower than the Nathan-and-Beau, oh-holy-mother-if-only-I-could-ride-like-that, father-son combinations. :wink:

at moab muni fest this year they gave us these little electrolyte pills or sumthn from hammer nutrition or something like that and they worked pretty good…
sure helped me on the last day with my trials uni…dont fill your camelbacks with gatorade…they get really sticky and gross…its a pain in the butt to clean out…did u guys bring any food with you? I have to bring food with me when i ride sometimes so i can get some quick sugar in me and it helps most of the time…

Uniman, for food, we each brought a Snickers bar and some trail mix.

I ate my Snickers at the 2.7 mile rest stop, partially cuz I didn’t want it to completely melt… I sorta made myself eat some of the trail mix… but once I ran out of water, I just didn’t feel up to eating anything…

Pkittle, that sounds great. My son is only 12, but he is doing really well. Usually I am a little better than him on longer stuff, but he really impressed me last weekend… I think he would be ok on a ride like Downieville if he just had some guidance…

And thanks for the tablet suggestion… I’ll look around for those. I wasn’t going to put Gatorade in the cambleback… but I was trying to figure out a way to carry a 32oz jug of it. Tablets seem much more convenient… :wink:


That doesn’t sound like much food for a hard ride. We bring more. I have switched away from bars generally in favor of what I call “real food”. Sandwiches, cheese sticks, potatoes, fruit, and the ever-popular dill pickles. You need to find something you can eat since you need fuel if the ride is over about 2 hours long.

Never underestimate your kid, that’s what I’ve learned. Beau first did Downieville in 2003 at age 11, on a 20" wheel, with no trouble. Of course that was in Oct - don’t remember if it was hot. Any long ride on a hot day can be hard. I think that was his longest ride at the time. He did Mr Toad’s at age 8 at Muni Weekend 2000 pretty well too.

I think the key for you guys in “hot land” is to not ride in the heat of the day. Start the ride at 6am instead of 9am and it will be a whole lot better. Or start at 7pm and bring a light system.


Here’s 8 year old Beau on Mr Toad’s with a very young Casey Drummond in 2000.


I can’t believe you left out Reese’s Pieces.

Goes without saying, doesn’t it?

Nice write up. What an adventure to share with your son. Glad you weren’t seriously lost or hurt.

So, your experience has me thinking. On long rides I almost always bring along something to eat. (My pace is slow so I have to have something to do with my hands :stuck_out_tongue: ) Usually I bring walnuts, dried fruit, and hard candy. I never thought of gatorade or anything like that… Should I be bringing some gatorade along also?

I’m surprised at how quickly the water in my camelbak disappears so I try to make sure I can refill it somewhere on route. On a trip sometime back my camelbak was suddenly empty. I was far from any place I could refill it which was a little scary. Someone suggested on the forums that I should probably put a small bottle of water inside the camelbak just in case. This way if I run out, I am sure to ration the spare bottle wisely. So far it has worked well.

um… what exactly are you referring to? :thinking:

edited to add: I didn’t see the second page of food suggestions. I’m going to read it now. :slight_smile:

finished reading… oh, ya… I forgot the “real food” that I bring… sandwiches, etc. Since I don’t eat them riding I guess it slipped my mind to include them. :stuck_out_tongue: