I posted a few weeks ago that a group of friends and I are doing a 100-mile bike called Velo South in September and that the training plans have been hotting up.
Last week we headed out for a 60-mile ride. Here are some of the things I learnt.
Food (don’t call it fuel)
Just because I can get through an hour of BMF and a parkrun on just a cuppa, it does not means it will cover 4.5 hours of moving time with a lot of hills. I did have some oat, nuts, berries and banana for breakfast and a sugary cup of tea, but my Garmin says I burnt 2400 calories over the whole ride. Most of which I did not have in me or on me. I had one SIS gel and a bottle of water with an effervescent tablet tablet in. My friends took pity on me and shared their muesli and energy bars, but it was not enough.
I hit the wall with about 15 miles to go to get home. Oh my, it was tough. I have never hit the wall like that. Not even in two marathons. My mind was telling me I had the power to go but there was nothing in my legs. I just felt spent. It was like the old Duracell or Energiser bunny adverts where the bunny or remote control car runs out of last bit of its charge, flops and comes to a stop. I could feel my power cells draining away and coming up on empty.
Lesson – Invent a way to stop Mars bars melting and take loads with me! Eat a bigger breakfast. Take more gels (1-3 gels per hour). Take some real food (banana, brioche rolls with jam, mini pitta breads with peanut butter, flapjack, Madelines). Get some bigger pockets.
I took one bottle of water. It ended up being a hot day. Pretty stupid. I did manage to refill the bottle at the top of Box Hill, but that was more luck than judgement. The training ride is to improve my conditioning and here I am nobbling myself before I get going.
Dehydration can have a huge effect on athletic physical performance. A 2% of body weight loss in water can lead to a reduction in athletic performance. Losses in excess of 5% of body weight can decrease the capacity for work by about 30%.
If you are dehydrated, your blood becomes thicker, this lowers your blood pressure and makes it harder for the blood to get back to the heart reducing the number of times your heart beats and how much blood it can move with each pump. So when dehydrated, you are reducing the pumping capacity of your heart.
Lesson – Take 2 large water bottles containing hydration tablets with electrolytes.
Respect the distance
It’s a lesson I keep getting smacked around the head with. Just because your general fitness is good and you exercise most days of the week, it doesn’t mean you can go any smash any distance you like, bike or run. Respect the distance is something I hear from a number of people who have run marathons. They can bite your ass, and they can bite it hard. 60 miles cycling (with hills) is not “a bit longer” than 40 miles. It is a third again.
Lesson – Stop being so self-assured. Contemplate what the distance requires. Prepare mentally and physically.
After 4 hours hunched over a bike, things that have never been an issue before suddenly become prevalent. Pressure points developed on the bottom of my cleats, my neck become sore due to the position you hold it as you ride. The bottom of my back and hips become sore due to tightness. Sitting on a bike whilst moving is not the best or easiest place to stretch them out.
Hamstrings are a group of muscles that extend the hip and flex the knee. Cycling shortens the hamstrings and pulls on the muscles in the lower back. This reduces the range of movement of your leg and leads to less efficient cycling.
Lesson – Stop being in a rush and telling myself I will stretch when I get home. Take the time to stretch my hamstrings, calves and achilles after exercise.
I have sung the virtues of Vaseline many times and would never race without applying it. Why should a training ride be different? Luckily there were no several chafing incidents this time but on a hot and sweaty day, the potential was on the high side. Another painful occurrence fortuitously missed that can be easily solved.
Lesson – Pay attention to preparing the night before. Think about the little routines I have when I run and apply them to cycling.
There were positives. The above lessons will serve me well in the build up to the ride in September. Its much better that I make these mistakes now and can learn from them. It showed that i can ride hard up 4 big hills and keep going. I’m sure race day will be a little different from the training ride last week. Adrenaline will have a huge impact. As will riding on closed roads. The excitement and competition will pull me through a number of miles and keep the pace high. Hanging with the people in front will give me something to focus on.
As with a lot of things in my life, my blasé “it’ll be fine” attitude sometimes does not serve me the best. Spending 5 minutes planning out my requirements and consequences would work much better for me and aid my performance.
Do you have any tips for surviving long cycle rides? Let me know in the comments below.