Scaring Stoker

Poor Stoker. After the Gorge de la Nesque ride we were sitting at lunch. I enjoyed my entree, a goat cheese tart. But during the plat I started to feel pressure on my temples, and my vision was obscured by shimmering lights

George de la Nesque Summit: A Long but Tandem Friendly Climb

I wasn’t  dizzy or nauseous. I thought I might have gotten a bit dehydrated and would recover before anyone would notice.

That didn’t happen. Diane went to the WC, and John started asking if I was ok. I wasn’t. The light was even brighter. It was as if I was looking directly into the sun, except I was sitting in the shade. I couldn’t really see and I felt extremely lightheaded. As if I could faint at any moment.

Stoker came back and was shocked by how I looked, which I guess was awful. I wasn’t really worried. This very thing has happened to me before, either during or just after a hot ride. But people around me were extremely concerned. The cafe owner provided ice which Stoker used to cool me. That felt good. A cold coke showed up and I took a sip. It tasted good.

I looked so bad that a French woman, a nurse or doctor I guess, left her lunch and started taking my blood pressure. She spoke to John in French. She said my BP was 80 / 50. No wonder I was lightheaded.

They walked me into the cafe and had me lay down on a bench in a booth. A man came in with a BP meter and a stethoscope. He seemed like a doctor. He took my pressure and shook his head, saying it was too low in French to John.  But I was already feeling better.

10 Minutes Later I Couldn't See: I Missed Dessert!

And I kept feeling better. I was still lightheaded but my vision had cleared. I asked John to drive us back to our house. He found out how I should go about seeing a doctor, but I was already recovered enough to think that wasn’t necessary.

Back at home I used my Kardia to do an EKG. Normal. Amazing device, that Kardia. It can ease your mind and save you a trip to the emergency room. John and Diane went to the Malaucene pharmacy and bought a blood pressure monitor. I was 106/60, still low but recovering. Later I called my doctor back in California, and he actually took my call. I told him what happened and he said I was almost certainly just dehydrated.  He told me to stop my blood pressure medication, at least temporarily.

By evening I was back to 117/70 and by the next morning I was back to normal.

As I said, this has happened to me before. At least three times that I remember. The first time was back in 2008, on a very hot day doing a 75 mile tandem ride. It happened to me in France 3 years ago. I recovered from those incidents within a few hours, so I wasn’t panicking.  But John and Stoker were understandably concerned.

I know I didn’t drink enough. Drinking while riding is difficult on the tandem, especially at slow climbing speed. I was riding pretty hard up the Gorge. It was also the first warm, bordering on hot day I’ve ridden since last summer. But I had plenty of time to cool down on the descent and I arrived at the cafe a little tired but hungry and ready for lunch. I was actually kind of embarrassed at having the problem,  which is silly of course.

My problem stayed away for the rest of the trip, even when I was climbing Alpe d’ Huez in temperatures approaching 100 degrees. This was the first time I scared Stoker in France this year. The incident with the moto was the second, since for all she knew I might have been on the pavement with serious injuries instead of standing by my broken bike wondering where to get a SRAM derailleur in France. The prayer candles may have tested our faith a bit, but they came through in the end.

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  • Blog Author

    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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