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  1. #1
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    Lessons Learned, and Some Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn1234 View Post
    Nothing for me to be sad about today. I ended up with some progress. Kind of a surprise since I really didn't plan the ride, but don't know how often/able I would be to duplicate it. 25.25 miles in about 2 1/2 hrs (28.27 miles total for today) for one ride. I'll have to think on some lessons learned (and may be asking questions), but evidently something lined into place today.
    Now that I had some time to think on this:

    Benefits:
    It turns out that I was physically capable of more than 10-15 miles. The thing is though, this was unplanned, and that probably was a good thing for a mental stand point, to not care about time away and so on. Just some place to get to. Getting the bike so it could be in a semi-reasonable condition helped too, along with getting to be in some place to have some character in it that could make me smile at times (there were a couple of good ride photos I could have gotten). And someone decided to stop and ask me if something was wrong (bike attitude or something else, I don't know, but at least someone showed some concern - that's a matter for some debate). As far as this ride went, the mental state was far better than the physical one at the end of the ride, and I was mentally ready to find out how far I rode, how far I was away from a metric century, and whether I had the time and ability to get there. Turns out no... I walled out my capability on this one. Though some positives are I did manage to mow grass for three hours (push mower, not this):



    And I ended up doing 11 miles today with very little trouble.

    The big obstacles (mainly stuff that's new to me), if anyone would please offer some advice:
    1) Nutritional management. The big problem I had towards the end of the ride was not having enough water and food to the point of not having much self-control when I could get to these things, and making myself feel not good (not quite using the word sick) for about an hour or two afterwards. I don't know how to precisely address this, but my guess would be to take it slow afterwards, and eat a lot more before? I know this suffered for being "unplanned", so I know I need to be a lot more deliberate about this matter. The subsequent physical activity with lack of leg soreness the next day tells me that this was probably my major limiter from an energy standpoint.

    2) Seat issues. This was probably the major thing that made me want to stop and not keep going. And also the major limiter on that 11 mile ride today - I probably need to just wait and heal up. For the lack of resistance or repetitive rubbing, or other factors, the area on my legs where I sit on the seat started hurting to the point of it being a lot of pain.

    3) Route issues. I've mentioned this one on posts before, but I definitely ran against this concern on this ride. My route back took me into a section of road that just made me fear for my life (cars going 60mph, no shoulders, tendency for people to give very little room when passing you (usually none), and lots of huge drops if I were to go off the shoulder), and definitely won't be trying again. Again, probably a problem for being an unplanned route like it was, but mainly I bring this up because I wanted to ask what most people do when it comes to longer rides. Do you typically find a place that you know is well traveled for bicycles that could support a longer ride (organized rides?), or is it possible to plan good routes without going near death-trap roads or dirt roads that would be more suited to BMX than road biking?

  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Gmaps Pedometer does wonders for route planning.

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/

    Be sure to elect the cyclist option and it will follow roads for you, and you can get a satellite view of the planned roads.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  3. #3
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    For nutrition and hydration it is best to take more than you think it will take. I always take two water bottles no matter how far I plan on riding and at least one energy type bar or a Goo or two. It never hurts to keep a five or ten dollar bill for emergency rations at a convienance store either.

    The seat issues just take time. If this was your longest ride to date don't go ditching the saddle just yet. You need time for your sit bones and the surrounding tissue to adapt to the use and pressure.

    Same goes with route management. In time you get more comfortable riding in traffic, and you learn what your comfort level is. It is best to pre plan routes as much as possible if you live in a busy area so you can avoid high traffic areas at high traffic times.

    Congrats on the ride!

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    You can make your own energy drink out of water, sugar, salt & lemon. Bring a couple bottles and some granola bars or energy bars. Re: seat issues, give it a couple weeks to get used to riding. If you experience pain or numbness, adjust the saddle. If that doesn't work, go saddle shopping. Re: route management, ride around and look at other less traveled roads.
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    For water I wear a Camelbak Rogue. It holds 70 ounces of water, has room for my keys, wallet, & cell phone, and it's made just for cycling so it's a thinner design than a regular backpack (keeps the back from getting too sweaty) and has some reflective material on it for night riding. Going early in the morning or late at night might help with the heat and lower your need for water.

    For food, a lot of roadies swear by bananas.

    For the seat, is it positioned correctly in terms of length and angle? Padded cycling shorts might help if you're not already using them.

    With biking, the best route isn't always the shortest one. You'll want to plan a ride around elevation and safety (it's going up the big hills that scare me). On a 5 mile ride, I'll happily add an extra mile if it keeps me off the hills and away from the cars. Google "your town" and "bike path" and/or "bike route" to see if there's anything close by. In fact, I've read where Google is looking into adding a cycling feature to their map options, but doubt we'll see it anytime soon.

    As a rule, I don't ride on a highway. That's just me. All it takes is one kid texting at 60 mph to end everything. If you go to mapmyride.com it can show the elevation for a route before you ever try it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn1234 View Post
    1) Nutritional management. The big problem I had towards the end of the ride was not having enough water and food to the point of not having much self-control when I could get to these things, and making myself feel not good (not quite using the word sick) for about an hour or two afterwards. I don't know how to precisely address this, but my guess would be to take it slow afterwards, and eat a lot more before? I know this suffered for being "unplanned", so I know I need to be a lot more deliberate about this matter. The subsequent physical activity with lack of leg soreness the next day tells me that this was probably my major limiter from an energy standpoint.
    I generally don't eat a whole lot before a ride. For me, that's a recipe for feeling nauseous after a couple miles of riding...

    I have two bottles cages on my bike, so I take two 24oz bottles on most rides. I probably drink 20-24oz/hr. On longer routes, I plan stops where I can refill the bottles; sometimes at a public drinking fountain, other times buying bottled water or a sports drink at a convenience store. For mountain bike rides, I have Camelbaks with 70- and 100-ounce capacity.

    In terms of food, I like nutritionally dense energy bars. I hate the feeling of a full stomach, so eating small amounts of high-energy food works well for me. Through trial and error, I've found that Chocolate Chip Clif Bars work well for me. The back pockets on my jersey will easily hold 8 or more of them. I generally pack one bar/hour, though I rarely eat that much.

    When I get home from a ride, I generally try to eat some complex carbohydrates and protein within 30-45 minutes to help my body refuel for the next ride...

    2) Seat issues. This was probably the major thing that made me want to stop and not keep going. And also the major limiter on that 11 mile ride today - I probably need to just wait and heal up. For the lack of resistance or repetitive rubbing, or other factors, the area on my legs where I sit on the seat started hurting to the point of it being a lot of pain.
    In my experience, getting back on the bike while you're still sore will make for even more pain experienced more quickly. I'd recommend staying off the bike until the pain is all but gone. Be aware that having the right saddle and the right pair of shorts can make a huge difference in your comfort, especially when riding more than 10-20 miles. I had to test-ride 3-4 saddles, for 15-20mi each, before I found one that worked well for me. Shorts were a bit easier. Once I found the right saddle, it seemed like any reasonably high quality short could work.

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    Okay, so I'm sure I understand:
    1) Nutritional planning is not necessarily an issue of what I eat before the ride (like last night), but what I eat during the ride?
    2) The seat thing will probably require some breaking in or some experimentation. I do better with a smaller seat, but with the seat post problems in a recent other post, this one seems to be the most stable, and I went on a similar ride with it last year (26 miles, laps on a small bike trail) with no problems, so my guess is probably just duration of pedaling.
    3) Route issues is probably still the biggest thing I'm not seeing a precise solution for. Maybe a post in A&S might be warranted about kinds of roads traveled on, but like I hinted at, I can look at maps and struggle most if not all the time to find things that aren't highway speeds with no shoulders (or things that require mountain/BMX biking to traverse). For example, I had a goal last year of biking to a certain park for the day (bike around, hit the trails, enjoy nature, that kind of stuff), but the options were either a 4-lane 65mph highway with no shoulders, or a 2-lane 65 mph road with no shoulders. Not good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
    and you can get a satellite view of the planned roads.
    As far as what Google took pictures of rolling around in their truck (street view is more handy for that), it seems that they haven't covered about 90% of my normal routes.

    Quote Originally Posted by subclavius View Post
    With biking, the best route isn't always the shortest one. You'll want to plan a ride around elevation and safety (it's going up the big hills that scare me). On a 5 mile ride, I'll happily add an extra mile if it keeps me off the hills and away from the cars.
    I'm curious, what is it about climbs that scare you? I've always liked the idea of working to conquer anything that's put in front of me, and yes there were some nice climbs and some nice descents (one about 40mph I'd guess). With the highway thing, that's something I really don't have control of. As you say, "All it takes is one kid texting at 60 mph to end everything." But you got to take certain risks - about everything here is highway speed outside of city streets. The only difference is the number of cars.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn1234 View Post
    Okay, so I'm sure I understand:
    1) Nutritional planning is not necessarily an issue of what I eat before the ride (like last night), but what I eat during the ride?
    2) The seat thing will probably require some breaking in or some experimentation. I do better with a smaller seat, but with the seat post problems in a recent other post, this one seems to be the most stable, and I went on a similar ride with it last year (26 miles, laps on a small bike trail) with no problems, so my guess is probably just duration of pedaling.
    3) Route issues is probably still the biggest thing I'm not seeing a precise solution for. Maybe a post in A&S might be warranted about kinds of roads traveled on, but like I hinted at, I can look at maps and struggle most if not all the time to find things that aren't highway speeds with no shoulders (or things that require mountain/BMX biking to traverse). For example, I had a goal last year of biking to a certain park for the day (bike around, hit the trails, enjoy nature, that kind of stuff), but the options were either a 4-lane 65mph highway with no shoulders, or a 2-lane 65 mph road with no shoulders. Not good.



    As far as what Google took pictures of rolling around in their truck (street view is more handy for that), it seems that they haven't covered about 90% of my normal routes.



    I'm curious, what is it about climbs that scare you? I've always liked the idea of working to conquer anything that's put in front of me, and yes there were some nice climbs and some nice descents (one about 40mph I'd guess). With the highway thing, that's something I really don't have control of. As you say, "All it takes is one kid texting at 60 mph to end everything." But you got to take certain risks - about everything here is highway speed outside of city streets. The only difference is the number of cars.
    There are a few issues, and the hardest one is to stop thinking like a driver, but start thinking like a cyclist. Drivers tend to prefer high speed arterials, as they make the trip shortest time wise. Cyclists tend to prefer quiet streets with little traffic. Older cities that were designed on a grid pattern work best, because you tend to have quiet streets on either side of the arterial, so you could avoid the arterial except for obstructions like railway tracks and highways, that blocked the smaller streets off. Unfortunately the most common design since about 1950 has been the cul-de-sacs off crescents off arterials design, which not only makes it impossible to stay off arterial roads to get anywhere, but also maximizes the amount of asphalt per hectare of land as well, and has virtually eliminated the square building lot. Some other common features in such areas is that sidewalks usually do not exist, 1960's thinking that nobody wanted to walk anymore if they could drive instead, transit is limited to the arterials, which could be quite far away on foot, and bicycle lanes are about as common on the arterials as sidewalks are on the crescents and cul-de-sacs off them.

    As the popularity of the automobile wanes over the next 40 years or so, they will see how stupid this design really was, but it will probably take close to 100 years to get rid of it.

    Not much you can do if you live in one of these areas except move to an area with a grid design.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    There are a few issues, and the hardest one is to stop thinking like a driver, but start thinking like a cyclist. Drivers tend to prefer high speed arterials, as they make the trip shortest time wise. Cyclists tend to prefer quiet streets with little traffic.
    This really isn't too relevant to what I was talking about in route planning. My problem really isn't one of municipal streets. Quiet streets with little traffic are an easy thing in every municipal area I've been in (town, city, village, whatever you call it) if you just work to find them. Of course, crossing the major arterials prove to be a problem.

    But to expand upon your analogy, the choice in design was to connect each municipality with a relatively straight arterial, which is designed to both be very fast, and to have a high capacity for traffic. Since these arterials connect many municipalities, there tends to be much traffic. Now with the tendency of some people to live in country areas, there are roads that are constructed to be routes off the arterials for these folks to get where they live. But these tend to be very cheaply done (dirt/gravel), and can tend to develop ruts, and wash out (hence the BMX/off-road reference I made). They also tend to be haphazardly laid out, so there's no guarantee you could use them to get to the same places as the highways would get you.

    Now I'm fortunate to be in a county that is electing to asphalt chip and seal some of its more well-traveled dirt roads, so I'm lucky there (not as bad as real dirt). That's how I get some of the distance I do now, since if I were to stick to municipal streets, my available distance to travel would be down to about 11 miles without retracing my path a number of times.

    For the ride I started talking about, I ended up on two of the more less traveled highways, where I really didn't have much concern for traffic. But I ended up on one of the more traveled ones, which was what concerned me.

    So to clarify what I'm asking about in #3, I'm asking where people typically plan their rides out to get the longer rides that they talk about. Are they fortunate enough to be able to ride where most wouldn't generally think about safety issues, or are they hitting highways? And if so, how they determine which ones would be smart to hit? I didn't find this topic discussed in search, so I probably will go ahead and travel over to A&S and think on a good way to post this question.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn1234 View Post
    The big obstacles (mainly stuff that's new to me), if anyone would please offer some advice:
    1) Nutritional management. The big problem I had towards the end of the ride was not having enough water and food to the point of not having much self-control when I could get to these things, and making myself feel not good (not quite using the word sick) for about an hour or two afterwards. I don't know how to precisely address this, but my guess would be to take it slow afterwards, and eat a lot more before? I know this suffered for being "unplanned", so I know I need to be a lot more deliberate about this matter. The subsequent physical activity with lack of leg soreness the next day tells me that this was probably my major limiter from an energy standpoint.

    2) Seat issues. This was probably the major thing that made me want to stop and not keep going. And also the major limiter on that 11 mile ride today - I probably need to just wait and heal up. For the lack of resistance or repetitive rubbing, or other factors, the area on my legs where I sit on the seat started hurting to the point of it being a lot of pain.

    3) Route issues. I've mentioned this one on posts before, but I definitely ran against this concern on this ride. My route back took me into a section of road that just made me fear for my life (cars going 60mph, no shoulders, tendency for people to give very little room when passing you (usually none), and lots of huge drops if I were to go off the shoulder), and definitely won't be trying again. Again, probably a problem for being an unplanned route like it was, but mainly I bring this up because I wanted to ask what most people do when it comes to longer rides. Do you typically find a place that you know is well traveled for bicycles that could support a longer ride (organized rides?), or is it possible to plan good routes without going near death-trap roads or dirt roads that would be more suited to BMX than road biking?
    #1. Eat the night before. The energy you use when exercising is stored in your muscles. If you don't put anything in, you get nothing out. No matter where you go or how far you ride, take an energy bar or something like that with you. You don't have to eat it, but having it and not needing it is better than needing it and not having it. I carry a Powerbar because whether its brand new or a year old, it's edible even though it tastes like crap.

    Water is vital. Drink before you leave. Take at least 2 water bottles with you and plan a turn around or mid point where water is available if necessary. If you want to, add some cranberry juice to your water (not much, just enough to change the taste) for flavoring. Gatorade or performance drink mixes are OK too if you are losing minerals from heavy sweating.

    Drink before you get thirsty. A good swig every 15 minutes is about right. Try to drink around 1 water bottle per hour. As you near the end of the route, slow down a bit in a "cool down" mode. Drink a bit more during this time and after finishing as part of your post ride routine. You won't feel so sick and the liquid will prevent you from trying to eat while too hot.

    #2. Seat issues are things that everyone has to get past. Try soaking in a hot bathtub for 20-30 minutes with some epsom salts after a ride. (Add about a 1-1 1/2 cups of epsom salts to a full tub of water.) It will toughen the skin and help get rid of the swelling and irritation a bit faster. A side benefit is that it also helps keep fungus from starting and soothes your muscles.

    Get good cycling shorts. The cheap stuff sux and doesn't provide enough padding in the right places. Plan on spending at least $90 per pair and buy name brand (not "house brand") shorts. House brand jerseys are fine, but shorts have to be the best you can get.

    If the seat continues to really bother you, check the seat adjustment first (fit) and if that's OK then consider a change to something else at that point.

    #3. Routes can be found that give good rides without excessive risk. If you are not that familiar with the roads in your backyard, Mapquest your area and use the satellite view as well as the street view to find roads which are safe to ride. Google for local cycle clubs and see if they have "routes" which they post for club rides. Generally these folks try to make sure that the routes are safe as possible to avoid accidents and injury to participants. Other than that, you can drive the unfamiliar parts of your planned route before you try it on the bike.
    Last edited by Rob P.; 05-16-09 at 11:11 PM. Reason: chain suck
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  11. #11
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    As your cycling journey progresse I find the food issue takes care of itself, you will find yourself avoiding certain foods the night as they will effect performance next day, for me it includes high fat foods. Before ride I still swear by a banana and plain old pancakes. I use gels and perpetuem on ride, I've tried homemade drinks but never made any difference. After ride I have recently been using recovorite and I find as long as I drink it I'm not so hungry and my food intake is not so high., if I have no access to that chocolate milk works good too. You really should eat within an hour of ride a good combination of carbs and protien I love eggs sandwhich for this but you will find what works for you.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

  12. #12
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    I find that for rides up to 40 miles I don't need to eat anything. If I'm going longer (52 miles is my daily max so far), I'll eat a Clif Bar partway through to keep my blood sugar up. I've also been known to stop at a convenience store for some lowfat chocolate milk, which is a great energy drink (4-1 ratio of carbs to protein, and a little fat). As Rob P. mentions, drinking regularly is vital; don't wait until you're thirsty.

    Last year it took me a couple weeks to get used to my saddle. In the fall I bought rollers, so I could ride in the winter, and a Brooks Flyer leather saddle with springs. Since I broke in the Brooks on short roller rides (30-50 minutes), it wasn't too painful, and by riding all winter I kept my butt used to sitting on the saddle. It made it a lot easier to start longer rides once the snow melted. If the pain doesn't go away in a week or two, try looking at Sheldon Brown's tips on saddle adjustment before replacing the saddle; sometimes a few adjustments can make a huge difference. Using Chamois Butt'r or some other chamois cream might also help, especially if you're suffering from chafing.

    As for routes, I'm fortunate enough to live somewhere with few major highways and a lot of secondary roads with good pavement and light traffic. The drivers in western Mass. are also generally courteous toward cyclists, sometimes to a fault. (College students are the main exception.) When I started out, I found the Rubel bike maps of Massachusetts very helpful; I still carry my increasingly outdated version around with me on rides. I don't know where you live, but has anyone produced a bike map? You might also try Google Maps' walking route planner, which prefers the shortest route rather than the fastest car route; I find that works reasonably well for cycling though you might need to work around one-way streets. If I have to ride on highways I look for wide, clean shoulders.

    Have fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob P. View Post
    Get good cycling shorts. The cheap stuff sux and doesn't provide enough padding in the right places. Plan on spending at least $90 per pair and buy name brand (not "house brand") shorts. House brand jerseys are fine, but shorts have to be the best you can get.
    Obviously, I have to completely disagree with this statement... assuming you have the right saddle.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Obviously, I have to completely disagree with this statement... assuming you have the right saddle.
    I disagree as well. I rode a century and several long touring days on "house brand" shorts without a problem. Heck, for the century I didn't even use chamois creme!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn1234 View Post
    This really isn't too relevant to what I was talking about in route planning. My problem really isn't one of municipal streets. Quiet streets with little traffic are an easy thing in every municipal area I've been in (town, city, village, whatever you call it) if you just work to find them. Of course, crossing the major arterials prove to be a problem.

    But to expand upon your analogy, the choice in design was to connect each municipality with a relatively straight arterial, which is designed to both be very fast, and to have a high capacity for traffic. Since these arterials connect many municipalities, there tends to be much traffic. Now with the tendency of some people to live in country areas, there are roads that are constructed to be routes off the arterials for these folks to get where they live. But these tend to be very cheaply done (dirt/gravel), and can tend to develop ruts, and wash out (hence the BMX/off-road reference I made). They also tend to be haphazardly laid out, so there's no guarantee you could use them to get to the same places as the highways would get you.

    Now I'm fortunate to be in a county that is electing to asphalt chip and seal some of its more well-traveled dirt roads, so I'm lucky there (not as bad as real dirt). That's how I get some of the distance I do now, since if I were to stick to municipal streets, my available distance to travel would be down to about 11 miles without retracing my path a number of times.

    For the ride I started talking about, I ended up on two of the more less traveled highways, where I really didn't have much concern for traffic. But I ended up on one of the more traveled ones, which was what concerned me.

    So to clarify what I'm asking about in #3, I'm asking where people typically plan their rides out to get the longer rides that they talk about. Are they fortunate enough to be able to ride where most wouldn't generally think about safety issues, or are they hitting highways? And if so, how they determine which ones would be smart to hit? I didn't find this topic discussed in search, so I probably will go ahead and travel over to A&S and think on a good way to post this question.
    The two things you want to avoid in route planning are the arterial (unless it has a bike lane) and the highway, unless that highway has a wider paved shoulder. Around here most major roads inside cities have curbs where the fog line is either at the curb, or there is no fog line, outside of cities the same roads often have less then 10cm between the fog line and the edge of the pavement, with gravel or dirt off the side of that. While cities are in many areas adding bike lanes, they are often putting them on roads that are bike friendly in the first place, it's not uncommon for a road to have a bike lane where it's two lanes and 50km/h, then when it expands to 4 lanes at 70km/h the bike lane disappears.

    As far as I know there are no bike lanes on Provincial or State highways, anywhere, a place where they are desperately needed. In some places there are wider shoulders which can be used a bike lanes, but are just as often used to get broken down cars and debris off the travelled portion of the roadway. Then again, I have often seen actual bike lanes blocked by parked cars, broken down cars and debris as well.

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