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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 07-26-06, 10:53 AM   #1
balto charlie
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sleep during the long ones

So how do y'all sleep during the really long rides. Some of what I've read says 5 hrs. of sleep in a 90 hr ride...I don't know about that. Also do you carry any sleeping gear?? silk sleep bags? bug netting? Or do you ride 'til you drop and sleep where you fall. No pillows!!! I can operate on little sleep but when I expend a lot of energy I want a lot. charlie
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Old 07-26-06, 11:09 AM   #2
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for cool weather, a mylar space blanket can be used for warmth if you end up sleeping outside. A camelbak makes a good pillow. Just inflate the bladder to desired thickness and lock the valve.

For sleep times, you should plan your sleep to either take a 20-30 minute "power nap" or get at least 2 hrs of sleep. Anything in between will result in you having to wake up from deep sleep and will make you groggy for a while. The 20 minute power nap is more effective than you might think and can give you several hours of alertness.
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Old 07-26-06, 11:41 AM   #3
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On my last 600k (my first one, lest I fool you into thinking I am more of a randonneur than I am) I was riding solo a week ahead since I was helping the RBA for the real ride. The sleep stop was closed so by the time I went shopping and found a hotel I only had time for 2.5 hours of sleep. I thought I would be zapped when I woke up but I awoke naturally and totally energized. It was really weird. Anyway, I want to try the mylar blanket thing in the future if I ever do a 1200. One really nice thing is a spare pair of shorts or underwear (if you wear underwear under your shorts) to sleep in and continue the ride in.
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Old 07-26-06, 11:47 AM   #4
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A camelbak makes a good pillow. Just inflate the bladder to desired thickness and lock the valve.
That's a neat idea for camping, too. Never thought of that, thanks!
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Old 07-26-06, 12:31 PM   #5
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the standard human sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, so if you keep your sleep stop to about two hours or three and a half then you'll be fine. Like Paul L. I only got two hours of sleep on my first 600K and I was functional for the first five hours of my ride.

Also, you can keep sleep deprivation at bay by eating and working. If you keep your heart rate up, stay warm (particularly important with brevets in April and May) and keep calories coming, your body will stay awake. Beware coasting on long descents in the middle of the night. You will start to nod off if your pulse drops too low; better instead to just spin down the climb and keep a modicum of activity going.

I was also fortunate in that the RBAs on both the Boston and Berkshire series provided bag drop support, so we had the luxury of being able to pack a small duffel with sleeping bag, change of clothes and reserve food that could be dropped off at the sleep stop. Otherwise, I was planning on fitting a lightweight sleeping bag to my rack trunk and using my hydration pack as a pillow, as another poster mentioned.
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Old 07-26-06, 05:43 PM   #6
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I'm one of the ones who does 90 hour randonnees on approx. 5 hours of sleep.

First, on the 200K, 300K, and 400K, you don't need to sleep. Anything less than 24 hours can be done straight through. If you happen to want to catch a quick nap, the ditch, or a picnic table, or a park bench, or a sidewalk are all as good places as any. No need for blankets, pillows, bivies, or anything like that. However, it is not a bad idea to bring a space blanket or possibly an emergency bivvy if the weather is likely to be bad.

There is an on-going debate about sleep on the 600K. I did my first 600K with no sleep, and all the rest with sleep. IMO, there's not much difference in how I felt. However, if you are going to get some sleep, plan to sleep less than 30 minutes at a time, or multiples of 90 minutes.

The adult human REM cycle is 90 minutes. If you get 90 minutes of sleep, you can wake up feeling relatively refreshed because you've been through one complete cycle. If you get less than 30 minutes of sleep, you can also wake up feeling relatively refreshed because you haven't fallen into a really deep sleep yet. However, if you wake up at about 60 minutes or so, you'll have woken out of the deep sleep part and you'll likely stagger around feeling quite disoriented and groggy for some time.

On a ride like a 1200K, I personally like to sleep about 3 hours on the first night (two 90 minute cycles), 1.5 hours on the second night, and then catch some naps of 10-20 minutes along the way to top up my sleep. Ideally, I'd like to get more sleep than that, but I don't have the time.

As for where to sleep ... again ditches, picnic tables, park benches, sidewalks, etc. are all viable options which have been used by many Randonneurs (including me). When you're tired enough, you'll sleep anywhere!!

On the Last Chance I slept for about 15 minutes on a gravel side road because I didn't want to sleep in the ditch. There was a dead snake on the road right there, and I figured it probably came from the ditch, and it could have friends still in the ditch!! Later on the Last Chance, Rowan and I decided we needed sleep in the middle of the night before carrying on so we went over to a church which had one of those big rugs for wiping your feet outside. We pulled it to a corner where there wasn't so much wind and curled up in our space blankets on it and slept for a while.

Occasionally a Randonneuring club will get together and book a motel room at about the 400K point. That has happened on four of my 600K events, and was very welcome! And on most 1200K events they will indicate in the rider information package which controls are considered sleep controls. At those controls they'll usually provide you with some sort of sleeping arrangements ... sometimes just a gym mat on the floor with a blanket ... sometimes cots ... sometimes an actual bed!

It's a good idea to ask what sort of arrangements are being made ahead of time if you are concerned about the sleep issue.
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Old 07-27-06, 06:08 AM   #7
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I generally prefer to get >10 hours sleep on a 1200 (aim for >4 per night), mostly slept indoors, usually in a bed or camp stretcher. Probably should carry a space blanket but have never bothered. Definitely contact the organiser about sleeping options on long rides.

600s seem easier with sleep to me, 400s usually not.

PBP has dormitories at most checkpoints but Loudiac is always overloaded. I've always aimed to sleep at Carhaix instead on the Tuesday night.
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Old 07-27-06, 06:45 AM   #8
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So how do y'all sleep during the really long rides.
There are no standard rules - people end up sleeping when and where they can. Each person and ride is unique, to say otherwise is BS.

Quote:
Some of what I've read says 5 hrs. of sleep in a 90 hr ride...I don't know about that.
NO one else does either.

Quote:
Also do you carry any sleeping gear?? silk sleep bags? bug netting? Or do you ride 'til you drop and sleep where you fall. No pillows!!!
I never have, long distance rides usually mean going fast enough to go a long distance, not "tour" along at a slower speeds.

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I can operate on little sleep but when I expend a lot of energy I want a lot. charlie
You really won't know what you'll "want" until you try several long rides. And then as I previously mentioned, every ride is different, and every chance to sleep and your need for sleep will be different also. Just about all the comments in this thread are just BS. keep an open mind about when, how much and how often you'll need to sleep on a long ride. You'll never know ahead of time, nor the "next time", after that.
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Old 07-27-06, 07:16 AM   #9
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And then as I previously mentioned, every ride is different, and every chance to sleep and your need for sleep will be different also. Just about all the comments in this thread are just BS. keep an open mind about when, how much and how often you'll need to sleep on a long ride. You'll never know ahead of time, nor the "next time", after that.
Such strong opinions Richard Cranium

Agreed, every person is different, with different requirements - however the OP asked what we did regarding sleep on long rides. I've found what works for me (get at least 3-5 hours between midnight and 6 am) and it has proven remarkably consistent for 7 (so far) 1000+ brevets over the last decade or so. I expect my next few 1000+ brevets to be similar. YMMV
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Old 07-28-06, 08:11 AM   #10
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Thanks for the input. I guess sleeping in ditches, picnic tables and such leaves one to sleep very little. This all reminds of a story I read about Albert Einstein. He almost never slept. He always took power naps, sitting in his chair, holding a pencil. When he dropped the pencil he woke up and continued his research. He would have made a fine LDC'er.

Richard: Cute name by the way. The folks were giving me their thoughts and what they see on long rides. I have always listened to my body but it's really nice to see what others do. They talked about the "norm" which implies it ISN'T for everybody but many. What I gather from their replies is 8 hours isn't done by many, and some can get away with 1.5-3 hours. Also nice to see the sleep (bi)cycle time. Forget the alarm clock and go when you wake up. If I'm sleeping with snakes 1.5 hrs. will do.

Thanks again folks. Charlie
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Old 07-31-06, 12:05 AM   #11
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To a degree, I have to agree with RC. Each event and the demands on the body are different. Conditions (weather, terrain, road conditons, wind, availability of sustenance) also can change within an event to alter dramatically sleep plans.

It is entirely possible to get by with five to seven hours of sleep on a 1000 or 1200. I do it, but don't particularly like it, and I am trying to increase my fitness and speed to (a) reduce my need for sleep and/or (b) give me more time to sleep within the time constraints of the event.

I have used various techniques that work for me. One is to pull off to the side of the road, straddle the bike, and drop my head on to my forearms which are in turn on the handlebars. I close my eyes and micronap until one of my knees starts to falter and wakens me. I do this three or four times per stop and it seems to provide me with some level of refreshment. Another is to do as others, and sleep in 20 to 30-minute increments (up to three hours at a time) corresponding to the sleep cycle.

My experience indicates several factors are at play in sleep, sleepiness and sleeplessness.

The first is adequate refuelling and rehydration. Someone once referred to the brain as requiring the same sort of energy resourcing as muscle, and I take that concept seriously. If I keep up the energy (long-chain carbs) and the fluids, I can ride for longer. On 600-plus events, I usually plan to ride for at least 30 hours (with some toilet, food and checkpoint breaks) before considering sleep.

The second is exposure to sun/heat and cold. Sunburn or overheating of the skin can stop me from getting to sleep, and in fact I can end up shivering even though I am well warmed. At the other end of the temperature spectrum, sweat-laden clothes sap the heat from the body very rapidly when riding stops, and on some rides I have given up sleeping because I cannot stop shivering despite using space blankets and the like (as one poster has lalready pointed out, a change into dry clothing is very helpful, if it is available). I included my small down sleeping bag in my on-bike kit after the Loudeac control on PBP 2003, and it was a veritable lifesaver. The sun is a natural restorer for me, and there have been more than a few events where I have stretched out on grass or leaned back against a warm brick wall to sleep in the sun.

As to stopping the mind from spinning and trying to convince itself that you won't oversleep, I have no advice except to have an alarm clock with a loud alarm and with the appropriate "am" or "pm" wake-up time!

Ear plugs are a handy aid to reducing noise at, say, a busy control or checkpoint or in a room of snoring randonneurs.

Above all, be prepared to sleep wherever you can find adequate shelter, safely out of the way of other riders, road users and molesters, and not where other participants have likely relieved themselves. A sleep-deprived cyclist still on the bike and delirious is a pitiful sight and a danger to all around him/her.
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