Friday, March 13, 2015

Sleep Deprivation and the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge Part II

In part one “sleep deprivation” we talked about the potential for sleep deprivation during the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge.  Each rider approaches the Challenge in their own way.  Some will push the envelope with the intent of crossing the finish line among the top contenders; others will meander through the course at a leisurely pace enjoying the scenery and the solitude. The Challenge is specifically designed to challenge the rider, testing the rider’s mettle while at the same time give the rider ample time to tend to their personal needs—like sleep.  A standard Hoka Hey Challenge course is 8000 miles (approximate) that must be navigated successfully within 14 days if the rider hopes to be present for the End of the Road Party—that’s an average of 571 miles per day.  A rider can navigate the 570 miles easily in a day’s ride and still provide sufficient time to sleep, eat, take pictures, meet new people—or whatever happens to catch their interest. However, we know most riders are going to exceed that 570 mile per day mark each day of the event—often times exceeding 1000 miles per day for 7 days.  To those riders you can be assured that sleep deprivation is a constant companion throughout the event.

So, how do we combat that constant companion?  Several studies have been conducted on sleep deprivation and how it affects the body.  There are stimulants available to combat sleep deprivation—some made from natural ingredients, others purely chemical based. 

The most common of course is caffeine.  It’s hard to drink a cup of coffee while tooling down the road, but slamming a cup when you stop for fuel is a viable option.  There are also caffeine pills that you can take.  Another is “Creatine” which may be a more effective nutrient than caffeine.  It can give you a boost by replacing the phosphates in the brain—a lack of which leads to sleep deprivation.  Others are Magnesium, Tyrosine and Phosphatidylserine.  Some of these listed are active ingredients in “sports drinks” like Gatorade, Red Bull and that Monster drink.  When all else fails… Try pickle juice!! (Yes… I said pickle juice.)

A point to make here is this.  All the studies show many of the listed supplements (and others) are good for the short term, but all come with an assortment of side effects.  Too much caffeine will have us bouncing off the walls and many of these others have the same effect.  Too much of a good thing is often not so good.  Every study of sleep deprivation had the same statement somewhere in the findings.  “The best way to combat sleep deprivation is to get some sleep.”
Catching a few hours of sleep eveyday during
the Challenge will enhance your experience.
Too much artificial stimulant can have the same effect on your body as sleep deprivation—loss of cognitive capability, lack of focus and slow reaction time.

Cater to your need using a responsible approach.  Riding straight for 48 hours may put you in the lead, but it will certainly substantially increase your risk of serious injury or death.  As a Hoka Hey Warrior we approach life with honor, integrity, respect and wisdom.  Which of these four attributes will you be willing to set aside to come in first place?  Disclaimer here: I AM NOT saying those who come in first set any part of themselves aside to meet their goal—not saying that at all.  It takes determination, fortitude, tenacity and courage to push your known limits.  What I am saying is this: “Don’t push to such an extent that you are endangering yourself and others around you.”  Many Hoka Hey riders will condition themselves over a period of months prior to leaving the Hoka Hey Challenge starting line.  The biggest mistake you can make is to attempt to ride 1000 miles the first day of the Challenge when you have never before attempted anything close to that.  If, during the Challenge, you push too hard and neglect the body’s need for sleep you will untimely slow yourself down and lose your edge—make a wrong turn and add hours to your day on the wrong road. 

Remember the story from that great author Aesop about the Tortoise and the Hare?  Hoka Hey Riders who reach their daily goal do so while riding steady with 3-4 hours of sleep each day. 
Stay hydrated, eat regular (although quick) meals, get off the bike when you fuel up and rather than slam a batch of artificial (although naturel) stimulants, take a 30 minute power nap from time to time to properly combat sleep deprivation and try to get at least 3 hours of sleep each day.  We are the Hoka Hey Family and any loss affects us all.