Severe dehydration, I almost died

I never thought it was that bad. Being 50 years old and having tried 3 different sports since I was 10 as mid-level basketballer, swimmer, and cyclist for the last 10 years, I have always ignored the consecuences of being badly hydrated.
However, I will never forget what I experienced myself in a MTB C-race last saturday. It was a 50-km hard and highly technical race under a burning sun in a dessert area of Tenerife, but I ended up in the hospital after 34 km, almost unconsious, with a hard-shaking body, and vomiting uncounted times… I was even thinking that was it, bye bye world.
After “three bottles” of physiological saline and almost two hours of intense suffering, I was resurrected and I can count it. Never, never, never, drink little water, or forget to drink water during a long and intense effort, with a temperature of more than 34º C. To make it worse, I kept drinking corbohydrates and gels without enough hydration.
Has it ever happened to you too?


glad you are on the road to recovery

Yeah it only takes one time to learn that life lesson

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Sounds terrible, but glad you got it corrected and recovered.

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How long were you out there (to do 34K) to reach that level of dehydration?

After a couple decades living, riding and training in the desert SW USA I’ve never been hospitalized but, have experienced very mild dehydration which was easily corrected with one IV bag of fluid.

Over the years I’ve found the witching hour (summer) to be about 9am or roughly 38C for rides 3 hours or longer. The combination of relatively high sun angle and “heat soaked” core temp from extended efforts can get tricky beyond this unless really careful. For Tuesday night hour of power type rides we ride in any temperature. So, it’s not uncommon to ride in 45C but, with no direct UV radiation it’s easier than it sounds as there is literally no humidity.

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My buddy came into the second aid station at DK 2019 in a similar state…full body cramps and shivering uncontrollably despite the ~95* temps.

Was conscious but clearly out of it…tried cooling him down but soon called for an ambulance. Couple liters of saline got him sorted relatively quickly, but it was a scary incident.

Glad your incident turned out OK!!

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Not as bad as this, but years ago I was playing basketball and it was HOT and HUMID… probably close to what you were racing… but at night. Was not drinking enough water for the amount of heat and the buckets of sweat…

I got home cramping up, but nothing serious…

got into the shower and after like 2 minutes on the shower started shaking uncontrollably… I felt I was freezing… both my wife and were a bit panic since we had no idea what was going on…
There was no AC, or nothing cold… it was scary…

we called and non emergency phone and they told us it was probably heat hypothermia…
the water cooled me down way to quick and my body couldn’t handle it!

So yeah… drink water and dont take a cold shower when you core is still hot…

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Passed out from dehydration on a glacier awhile ago. I was fine once I was horizontal and drinking water. General lack of drinking over the previous day combined with losing a lot of water from respiration.

Also came close after a hot humid run. Would’ve fallen over if I wasn’t in the shower and had something to lean against.

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I always made it as ritual now to down a water bottle before any ride. Before, I used to just hop on the bike when I wake up, but I never realized I was dehydrated every time I woke up. After a drink of water, the intervals I usually struggle with became easy all of a sudden. It was a huge difference.

I’m glad you made it out okay. You should probably not ride for a while so your body can recover.

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that is some scary shit-got-real, a little too real… Good to have you back in the world of the living!

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Wow, that sounds scary. I’m glad you are ok. If you don’t mind me asking (again): how come it came that far? 50 km doesn’t sound like it is too much. How much did you drink on the bike?

Not me personally, but during the hottest weekend of the year (and very high humidity) I participated in my only race this year. It was just a crit race, so nothing very long, although with high intensity. Two young men in their early 20s suffered from heat stroke and dehydration. They had to be whisked away by ambulances. Our team captain came very close to that point, too. I rode to the venue (about 70 km one way) and I drank over 4 liters on just the 70 km getting there. I was smart enough to put my 3 l bladder in my backpack. The way back was tough, my heart rate spiked over 140 bpm even when I did efforts in low Z2, it was crazy.

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1 hour warming up and 2.5 hours racing (including waiting time for an ambulance). Humidity is another factor to consider here (costline, a subtropical island).

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Same thing. Thank you.

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Yours is a good story too, good you made it. In my case, It has been the hardest and most difficult race I have ever made. Besides, I am not in form yet (C-Race). Only 50 km but no flat terrain at all, constant ramps of up to 20%, full of rocks and slippery dirt, obstacles all over. My ride concentration kept my mind away from the water bottle and drink. My HR was 60% of the time in Z5. I carried 0,5 lt of water and 0,.5 lt of Carbs + 10 gr BCAA … big mistake when mixed with gels and no more water to drink and disolve the nutrients in the blood stream.

That was definitely something I was worried about in my crit race. It was my first crit race, so I didn’t drink anything. Fortunately, I was in the shorter, easier race category and we only did 6 laps instead of 10. For sure I would have needed something to drink during 10 laps. Also, I altered my race strategy. I was planning to try to TT to the win, but just abandoned that idea and instead just wanted to have fun and practice my non-existent race craft.

By the way, did you draw any conclusions from your experience? Since this was a C-race, you could have carried a small backpack with a bladder. I find it much easier to drink from a bladder than having to reach down and drink from a bottle. It’s also much safer (at least for me) since I don’t have to finagle the bottle into the bottle cage. My Deuter backpacks also have side pockets in the belt straps, which are perfect for gels. Some gels like SIS’s are isotonic, meaning you don’t have to drink afterwards.