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Old 02-04-09, 01:35 PM   #1
Creakyknees
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Musettes / handups / strategy / alternatives

I have some long road races coming up. This is as much a fueling strategy question as it is a "how-to"

Last year I finished the HHH100 mile RR by wearing a camelback full of perpetuem in a pretty thick mix, plus 2 big bottles with go-juice, plus a couple of gel flasks, plus getting some neutral water handups.

Oh yeah I ate about half a banana too. I ended up cramping hard but can't really blame the fuel since I didn't have enough miles, and the camelback was still half full and I had an unused flask and half a banana.

So let's talk fueling strategy for 4 hour + road races.

Suppose you have a teammate with musettes, and 2 feed zones in the race. What goes in the musettes? Do you even depend on the handups or try to go self sufficient?
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Old 02-04-09, 01:42 PM   #2
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Nutrition is almost as personal a topic as saddle choice. For me, it would be:
- PB&J
- Strawberry pop tarts
- Banana
- Bottle with either Sustained Energy/Heed mix, Heed, or Water (depending on where abouts in the ride I am)
- Clif shot bloks
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Old 02-04-09, 02:08 PM   #3
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Stuff food and gels in your pockets, only take bottle hand-ups.
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Old 02-04-09, 02:16 PM   #4
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train the person doing your hand-ups how to do it. If you are getting bottles, practice once the wrong way so that they can see it doesn't work, and nobody can talk them out of doing it the right way.
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Old 02-04-09, 02:20 PM   #5
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Shotblocs (or gels) in the pocket, unwrapped. A Clif bar or two and/or a couple of bananas. Couple this with a very hearty breakfast about two hours before the race (don't underestimate the power of breakfast) and you are good to go.

Bottles: depending on the heat, carry as many as possible going out (three; two in cages, one in back pocket), and then make use of the feed zones to get bottles handed up. Usually in a 4+ hour race (at least in Oregon), the feedzones are neutral with water in the bottles. Take advantage of this and don't be afraid of stashing extra bottles in your pockets and dropping them off to the follow car when they are empty. Don't bother with the camelback. The problem doesn't have anything to do with style points, but in the fact that it's heavier than bottles and you can't get rid of it when it's empty.

Just, if you are Oregon at least, for the love of God and all that is Holy, don't just throw bottles off by the side of the road outside the feedzones. Guys who do this tend to get races banned from venues due to littering complaints by the locals.
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Old 02-04-09, 02:22 PM   #6
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Stuff food and gels in your pockets, only take bottle hand-ups.

yup
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Old 02-04-09, 02:31 PM   #7
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If the feed zones are on an up hill then proper handup training is not so important. On the EC my wife did fine with 10 minutes of training but doing a handup when the rider is climbing at 7 mph is easy... if the feeder misses she can try again before the rider is done passing her.

If there are only two feed zones, I'd put enough food into each musette and start out with enough so that if you miss one you'll still be ok.

I aim for 300 Calories/hour (one bar plus 1/2 bottle). But I need more food than most people- I run entirely on carbohydrates. Experiment in training to see how much food you can get down and keep down. I like Clif bars but it takes some practice to eat solid food while climbing at a good pace.

I usually use two bottles, one with drink mix and one with plain water. You might try Hammer's suggested super saturated drink mix if neutral water is plentiful.
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Old 02-04-09, 02:40 PM   #8
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That's a good point. Keep enough water on board at all times (usually in longer races the follow car will have some water as well) that you can afford to miss a feed zone. If the water is neutral, do the volunteers and other riders a favor and don't try to grab a bottle at 20mph - slow to 10 or 15mph. 50/50 that you drop it, and if you drop it at speed, you probably won't get another shot at another bottle and you might even crash someone out.

My significant other volunteered last year to hand up waterbottles at a feedzone on the level, and she was saying that all the volunteers were *****ing a bit about guys coming in hot.
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Old 02-04-09, 04:19 PM   #9
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That's a good point. Keep enough water on board at all times (usually in longer races the follow car will have some water as well) that you can afford to miss a feed zone. If the water is neutral, do the volunteers and other riders a favor and don't try to grab a bottle at 20mph - slow to 10 or 15mph. 50/50 that you drop it, and if you drop it at speed, you probably won't get another shot at another bottle and you might even crash someone out.

My significant other volunteered last year to hand up waterbottles at a feedzone on the level, and she was saying that
all the volunteers were *****ing a bit about guys coming in hot.
- They knew it was a race right?

I have a bunch of handup questions to ask, but this isn't my thread and mine are a little off topic so I'll start a new one.
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Old 02-04-09, 04:35 PM   #10
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- They knew it was a race right?

I have a bunch of handup questions to ask, but this isn't my thread and mine are a little off topic so I'll start a new one.
Yea... but it's supposed to be kind of neutralized at the feed zone.
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Old 02-04-09, 04:37 PM   #11
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That's a good point. Keep enough water on board at all times (usually in longer races the follow car will have some water as well) that you can afford to miss a feed zone. If the water is neutral, do the volunteers and other riders a favor and don't try to grab a bottle at 20mph - slow to 10 or 15mph. 50/50 that you drop it, and if you drop it at speed, you probably won't get another shot at another bottle and you might even crash someone out.

My significant other volunteered last year to hand up waterbottles at a feedzone on the level, and she was saying that all the volunteers were *****ing a bit about guys coming in hot.
Maybe for a volunteer/inexperienced feeders; last year I both took and gave feeds and I only remember one failed pass -of ours.

One racer had her feeder not let go and the crashing rider almost took out a couple people in the feed zone. They must have been friends because all the crashed rider said was "we need to work on that."
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Old 02-04-09, 05:10 PM   #12
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My significant other volunteered last year to hand up waterbottles at a feedzone on the level, and she was saying that all the volunteers were *****ing a bit about guys coming in hot.
It takes about 10 seconds to teach someone to do a proper handup so that they can do it at speed with no practice. The first time I had to do it was when I was recruited 30 minutes before a pro circuit race, shown how to do it, thrown into a car with 120 water bottles and told to follow the caravan til it got to the feed zone. Me and my friend didn't miss a handup, and at the end of the day in 100 F temperatures were hitting the remaining rider from the team with 4 bottles per pass through the feed zone.
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Old 02-04-09, 05:28 PM   #13
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I remember seeing some poor wife/gf standing alone in the rain on the side of the road with no jacket or umbrella holding out a bottle for someone. I felt really bad for her.
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Old 02-04-09, 05:42 PM   #14
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Let me amend my comment. They were all *****ing a bit about the Cat 4/5 riders coming in hot.

I'm sure the pros are better at it than we were.
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Old 02-04-09, 06:16 PM   #15
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For a 4 hour race I start eating the moment I wake up. That is my first breakfast. Then I get ready, packed etc and there will be a second breakfast. I stop eating at least 90min before the start.

My first bottle would be like a workout shake (carbs and ...yes...protein). I know most poo-poo protein during exercise but, if it is my first bottle of a long race it works really well for me.

In my pockets are 1 apple (if there is a neutral so it is eaten within the first 20-30min), 2 powerbars and a horde of jam/poppy seed sandwiches cut into squares (sans crust) and wrapped in tin-foil (so I can open them under any condition with my mouth if I have to) and some gels.

Second bottle on the bike is water.

First feed zone I ditch both bottles and get 1 water and 1 with coke diluted with water. If there is a second feed zone I will do the same.

Around here races that long don't usually have feed zones. We get fed from the team cars. This changes things and allows a little more flexibility in terms of what I ask for in my bottles.

The only downside to the powerbars is that it takes water just to process them. Because of this I try to get extra water in me in the second half of the race if I can.

Whatever you decide, make sure you've tried it on a long training ride first. No new stuff on race day.
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Old 02-05-09, 12:49 PM   #16
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So on the OP's cramping statement... Does anyone else (including the OP) think there was too much sports drink/mix and not enough water to balance it out? If you mix sports drinks above the ratio and use gels and don't re-dilute them by chasing with water, you're actually doing more harm than good (so sayeth various articles and anecdotal evidence which I fail to site here).

I'm a fan of 2 bottles of sports drink (mixed to instructions) and one of water (if its hot). Of course, I've never ridden a 4+ hour race so you guys may be way above my level.
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Old 02-05-09, 02:23 PM   #17
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Someone in another thread (in the long distance forum I think) recently posted that you can get muscle cramping from lack of water, lack of electrolytes, and overuse.

A super concentrated sports drink could cause you to have to take water from your body into the gut to dilute it sufficiently to absorb, but you'd have to drink a lot of it. Most sports drink is sufficiently dilute to not have that problem.

My experience with cramping has been that it's either been from lack of electrolytes or overuse. But I seem to need a lot of salt on longer (4-5 hour +) rides especially in hot weather, while other people don't. You have to experiment and see what you need.
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Old 02-05-09, 02:45 PM   #18
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Someone in another thread (in the long distance forum I think) recently posted that you can get muscle cramping from lack of water, lack of electrolytes, and overuse.

A super concentrated sports drink could cause you to have to take water from your body into the gut to dilute it sufficiently to absorb, but you'd have to drink a lot of it. Most sports drink is sufficiently dilute to not have that problem.


My experience with cramping has been that it's either been from lack of electrolytes or overuse. But I seem to need a lot of salt on longer (4-5 hour +) rides especially in hot weather, while other people don't. You have to experiment and see what you need.
My experience with cramping has always been pretty bad. I find if I make her dinner, clean up 1 or 2 things around the house, and tell her that she's pretty then I can buy myself a day or two of peace.

Your results may vary.
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Old 02-05-09, 03:13 PM   #19
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I ended up cramping hard but can't really blame the fuel since I didn't have enough miles, and the camelback was still half full and I had an unused flask and half a banana.

For everybody else.. Theres why he cramped


No amount of food or water can make up for missing miles in your legs.
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Old 02-05-09, 03:41 PM   #20
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For everybody else.. Theres why he cramped


No amount of food or water can make up for missing miles in your legs.
That's also my conclusion, and please let's not turn this into a cramping thread.

So, back to teammates and handups, here's what I'm thinking:
- no camelback
- breakfast, yeah
- low glycemic / some protein / real food in the early miles
- switching to go-juice sometime after halfway
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Old 02-05-09, 04:33 PM   #21
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That's also my conclusion, and please let's not turn this into a cramping thread.

So, back to teammates and handups, here's what I'm thinking:
- no camelback
- breakfast, yeah
- low glycemic / some protein / real food in the early miles
- switching to go-juice sometime after halfway
That's about right. And then just do it and suffer like a dog (like many a freshman racer) if you get it wrong.
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Old 02-05-09, 05:05 PM   #22
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I recommend reading Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100. It goes into detail on training, preparing, and riding in longer events. It talks about what the TdF riders have in their musettes for their 100 mile stages as well as other things to consider for nutrition.
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