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  1. #1
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    Need advice on training for 200 mile ride

    Last month, one of my sons completed the Seattle to Portland bike ride and I was at the finish line in Portland to see him complete it in one day (205 miles). I want, very much to complete that ride at his side next July. I am sixtythree and in pretty good shape. I ride approximately 75 to 100 miles a week but the longest I have gone is 63 miles in one ride. I have a year to get ready but I need help on just how I should prepare for this. My son is 34 and he rides about 17mph average. When I do my usual 20 to 30 mile rides, I go about 15 to 16 mph average. One problem that I have experienced with my riding (other than needing an ass transplant after my 63 miler), is that I find that I am pushing down on my handlebars more than seems normal and my arms are straight and it just feels like I am doing one long pushup. (Should I raise my handlebars?) Thanks in advance.

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    Well, with a year to train you should have plenty of time to get everything right. Alot to consider with an ultra-distance ride like that. First and foremost I would think your bike has to fit "PERFECT"! What might feel good for 63 miles might start hurting at 80, and at 100+ be almost unbearable. Touring geometry bikes are made for the long haul, I'd stay away from race or compact packages. If there are any hills to be overcome, I would think you'd want a triple chainring, and have both deraileurs tuned perfectly. Two things that kill a long ride are tires and deraileur problems.

    During the next few months I'd be finding a saddle that my butt was Very, Very Fond of. Everybody's different back there...find one that won't sore you up in the second half of the ride. I'd work on strengthening your core muscles, lower back, and upper body over the winter too. You don't want anything above your belly button to start aching on the ride. Your neck too, will need to be strong enough to hold your head up the entire ride.

    You'll need to have alot of base miles next spring and have that aerobic engine running lean and mean. All the miles will teach you how to approach a relaxed position on the bike. Anything over about a metric century has alot of mental training associated as well. Nothing teaches you about 8 to 10 hours plus in the saddle like 8 to 10 hours in the saddle. You're going to have to learn how to hydrate (without over hydrating) and taking in nutrition while in the saddle. Check out the Long Distance Cycling forum here, lots of long distance folks on it that will help immearsurably. Pick there brains and find out what works for you.

    Last but not least, do not overtrain prior to the ride. You get stronger when you rest, and any setbacks in your training schedule will affect the outcome of your ride. Train smart, eat smart, rest lots, and make your son proud of his Pa...this will be something neither one of you will ever forget...

    Oh, and do keep us posted on how it goes! I'd love to hear this story unfold over the next few months!

  3. #3
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    I'm not really clear on what you mean by "one long pushup." 200 miles (300 km) in one day is not insignificant. Indeed, the longest one-day pro bike race is Milano-San Remo, and it's only around 290 km. To do the one-day ride, you really need to be a "real cyclist." This means that you have to be able to ride a bike "properly." Your arms must be bent, weight distribution must be 40/60 front/rear (so you don't have too much weight on the firm saddle), you must be able to spin at 90-100 rpm without thinking about it, et cetera, et cetera.

    I would suggest getting a coach. I would also highly recommend riding the track, Marymoor if you live in Seattle, Alpenrose if you live in Portland. Nothing will improve your cycling technique like riding the track, nothing! Without fail, the guys with the absolute best, smoothest, most efficient riding technique are trackies. And I'm not biased.

    - L.

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    speed

    Another consideration, you mentioned your ave sp and that of your son's. It can be very stressful physically and mentally to have to move your speed up or down from what you're most comfortable with imho. Going slower than you need to wears on you mentally when you know you have so far to go and going faster than what you should be doing might mean you expire before completing the full double century. Last Fri I road 160 miles. My times were identical for the first third and the second but fell off quite a bit for the last third even tho I still felt pretty strong. You might expect something similar but your son may respond totally differently at his age. My point is, I'd suggest trying to do a couple of long rides together prior to the event to see just how you can work out the pacing comforably if you intend to ride together the whole way.
    "Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take many small steps" -Helmut
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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Relax those arms, keep a bend at the elbows. You may need a shorter stem.
    Saddles are another issue and getting the buns in shape for longer distances can be problematic. Change hand positions regularly while riding and do several centuries and double metric centuries as training.
    Pace yourself; don't try to keep up with the fast kids in the first hundred miles; do what's comfortable for you. You'll be passing some of those go-fast kids at the 150 mile mark! Been there and done that.
    Don't try to keep up with son . . . ride your own pace, make new friends that way and you'll see him at the finish line.
    Have ridden over 100 centuries and half-dozen double centuries.
    Yup, with proper mind set and training you can do STP in one day.

  6. #6
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    I train for a hard ride every year. Offroad 100 miles with 10,000ft of climbing and I can assure you that this is hard and probably on a par with what you are attempting. After a break of 7 years since I last did it- I did in in 2003 on a Tandem. (Don't think about tandems unless you have a big wallet and you are certain you and your son can get on as a team.)

    Main problem I had was the mental approach.Would I be fit enough etc. but I had 6 months training to get into shape. I was reasonably fit to start with but started doing extra rides in the Week and Gym work. Its ok to do a 4 hour ride on a Sunday at your pace but this was going to require some extra effort so that was what I started to do at the gym. 200 miles is going to be a pace job but down the gym- I went for it. 6 different machines for 10 minutes on each and after a 5 minute warm up- I was at 95% for the rest of the hours workout. Initially It was rough so cut back a bit by the 3rd machine but after a month I could take it. Then the weight went on the machines- or the level went up and I culminated in being able to do a 6 hour stint of 1 hour on each machine with high levels (From when I started) and really going for it. Same on the rides- about a month before the ride- I did a road ride lasting 2 1/2 hours flat out.

    You will need to get a bit of stamina training in and you will have to build up the muscles- but it is that mental bit that will stop you on the ride. Train to overcome the mental wall that you will hit by getting to the stage the where the physical bit hurts- Then you train the mental bit by going just a bit further- just another ten minutes or 2 miles on the treadmill- even if you have to slow a bit.

    The ride might be next summer so start your mental training now. Put an extra 5 miles into the middle of the ride that you ride with effort. Didn't like the last hill so turn around and do it again. You may be able to get fit enough- I have no doubt, but if you do not train mentally- You will sink.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Thanks for all the good advice. I have a nice (to me) bike. It's an 05' Bianchi Vigorelli with a triple chainring. I think that I might bring it in and have it professionally adjusted to fit me. It rides fine, but as I said, I always feel like my hands and forarms are pushing down on the bars too much. I "am" getting huge forearms though.

    The point that was made about my son having a different speed than mine struck me. On the one hand, I can visualize both of us teaming up and riding the entire two hundred miles, but after thinking about it, I would not want to "hold him back". I suppose I could try to get up to his level over the year but... The sixtythree miler that I did, was with my son. I was helping him out with getting ready for the STP at the time. I set the pace at around 15 mph but he could have left me with very little effort.

    I am going to do this. I want to be smart about preparing for it so that I can be in a position to do my best. My son was diagnosed with MS two years ago and as with many things in life, you just never know what the future will bring. I enjoy riding with him very much.

  8. #8
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    Here is what I learned doing over 150 miles/day on a recent cross country tour. I am 65 and bike a lot. Training consists of at least 20 miles/day plus 50 miles/day on weekends plus 2 x 100 miles once a month in season.
    The special issues for over 150 miles/day are this:
    1) Neck, arms, hands got very sore. I learned to do arm and neck exercise while biking.
    2) Nutrition became make or break issue. Not only while riding but the day before and after. I used a lot of trail mix and gatorade and chocolate milkshake.
    3) I adjusted to a more upright position.
    4) Avoided stressing my knees by trying to stay 80 to 100 cadence.
    5) I would suggest that you get your average speed closer to 20 MPH on lets say a 50 mile flat course.
    (assuming wind neutral, circular) That would give you a cushion to do 17 MPH comfortable for 200 miles.

    I also wish you success and keep us posted. I am training for another 3000 mile Fast cross country ride.

  9. #9
    Elite Fred mollusk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    2) Nutrition became make or break issue. Not only while riding but the day before and after.
    This cannot be stressed enough. And advice from other riders on what to eat is about as good as advice from other riders on what saddle is best: Everyone is different and you need to find out what works for you.

    For example I can go all day eating PB&J sandwiches and drinking Cokes, but Gatorade will put me in the ditch with severe stomach cramps. Other folks cannot stomach any sodas on a ride this long, but need something like Gatorade to keep going. The only way to find out what works for you is to do long rides where eating and drinking are required to finish and see what works for you. Don't assume something will be fine and find out on the big ride day that it isn't.
    I'm the world's forgotten boy. The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JEgan712
    Thanks for all the good advice. I have a nice (to me) bike. It's an 05' Bianchi Vigorelli with a triple chainring. I think that I might bring it in and have it professionally adjusted to fit me. It rides fine, but as I said, I always feel like my hands and forarms are pushing down on the bars too much. I "am" getting huge forearms though.

    The point that was made about my son having a different speed than mine struck me. On the one hand, I can visualize both of us teaming up and riding the entire two hundred miles, but after thinking about it, I would not want to "hold him back". I suppose I could try to get up to his level over the year but... The sixtythree miler that I did, was with my son. I was helping him out with getting ready for the STP at the time. I set the pace at around 15 mph but he could have left me with very little effort.

    I am going to do this. I want to be smart about preparing for it so that I can be in a position to do my best. My son was diagnosed with MS two years ago and as with many things in life, you just never know what the future will bring. I enjoy riding with him very much.
    I'm the one that pointed out potential issues with different ave speeds but after reading your comments above, there's no way I'd suggest you NOT ride together, in fact I think you must enjoy this experience together! I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work. If he's too fast for you, learn to take his wheel and let him pull you. Amazing how much of a break that can give you. You never know, you may never have the chance to do this together again so treasure the experience together. I don't fully retract my comments earlier, I just strongly encourage you to ride it together and find ways to do that comfortably.
    "Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take many small steps" -Helmut
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mollusk
    This cannot be stressed enough. And advice from other riders on what to eat is about as good as advice from other riders on what saddle is best: Everyone is different and you need to find out what works for you.

    For example I can go all day eating PB&J sandwiches and drinking Cokes, but Gatorade will put me in the ditch with severe stomach cramps. Other folks cannot stomach any sodas on a ride this long, but need something like Gatorade to keep going. The only way to find out what works for you is to do long rides where eating and drinking are required to finish and see what works for you. Don't assume something will be fine and find out on the big ride day that it isn't.
    I agree with mollusk with the following qualification:
    Some of us need to learn fast. I went on this 3000 mile tour without ever doing something like it. I noticed that many, but not all, bikers used chocolate milkshakes and gatorade. Good enough for me and it did me no harm. Yes, there were 2 or 3 bikers (out of over 30) who did not tolerate milk or gatorade.
    I wonder what would have happened if I would have been close minded?
    I entered serious biking late in life. Could not be done without some risk taking.

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