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  1. #1
    Senior Member claire's Avatar
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    What do you do when you feel sleepy

    ... and you're afraid you're going to fall asleep on your bike?
    What I did on my 400 was:
    - chat with the other cyclists in my group (I was lucky enough to ride with 2 other cyclists at least)
    - sing
    - stop for 5 mn and eat
    Any other ideas?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by claire
    ... and you're afraid you're going to fall asleep on your bike?
    What I did on my 400 was:
    - chat with the other cyclists in my group (I was lucky enough to ride with 2 other cyclists at least)
    - sing
    - stop for 5 mn and eat
    Any other ideas?
    In addition to your suggestions:

    Stop for 5 to 10 minutes, well off the road, brace legs on either side, put head down on bars and take a nap.

    Stop for 15 to 20 minutes, well off the road, lie down in the grass (or mud, if necessary) and take a (longer) nap.

    If stopping is impossible because of risk of missing a control deadline, sing "99-bottles of beer". The backwards-counting step helps to make your brain wake up a bit with every verse.

    Eat a big slug of calories, wait five to ten minutes to get some into the blood-stream, then stand up and sprint like the devil is chasing you.

    All of these strategies helped me get through BMB with a cumulative total of about 6 hours of sleep. One other strategy -- train harder beforehand so that you can ride faster and arrive before you get sleepy, or so that you have more time to sleep en route.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls
    Eat a big slug of calories, wait five to ten minutes to get some into the blood-stream, then stand up and sprint like the devil is chasing you.
    +1 to this. If your blood sugar gets low, sleepiness will follow. If you can continue eating, and add some sweeter items to add glucose to your system, then that should help keep you awake. Increasing your heart rate also helps keep sleepiness at bay. My riskiest times at night are on long descents, where I've stopped pedaling, and I've usually forgotten to eat because I was focused on climbing the hill that I was now descending.

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    Find a nice shady spot, have a drink and some lunch, take a nap. Singing and chatting are great, too, (that's what I do); if that's not enough, you really need to listen to what you're body's telling you. If it means you don't get the time you want, at least you'll be around to try again. Driving drowsy is dangerous, but cycling sleepy is suicidal.

  5. #5
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    A 15 minute "power nap" is a proven strategy for regaining some alertness. If you're out on your own, it may be your best option. The scary thing is that if you are having a hard time keeping your eyes open, you are almost certainly already falling asleep for brief moments and are unaware of it.

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The first thing I do when I start to feel sleepy is EAT. I forget to eat in the middle of the night, and sometimes it is more challenging to dig around and find food, so I just let it go ... and then I get sleepy.

    Usually eating works.

    If eating doesn't work, or while I'm waiting for the food to digest, I move into singing or talking to myself.

    Finally, I resort to the 5-10 minute nap ... if I can. There have been a lot of rides lately where it has been pouring rain or freezing cold in the middle of the night and I can't pull over and sleep. So I eat more and hope for the best. I may dip into my caffeinated gels too.

  7. #7
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    Stop and eat usually. As for singing, for some reason I can't hardly seem to stop doing that while I'm riding

  8. #8
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    How does one wake up from a 15 minute nap? Do you take an alarm clock?

  9. #9
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znomit
    How does one wake up from a 15 minute nap? Do you take an alarm clock?
    I use the alarm feature in my cell phone. A wristwatch HRM alarm works as well.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls
    In addition to your suggestions:

    ...
    One other strategy: Caffeine deprivation in the months before the event makes it so that when you actually drink caffeine during the event, it works like the drug that it is. I quit drinking coffee about three weeks ago, so I'm already resensitized in time for the 400's and the 600. Even just drinking a coke or a cup of coffee will wake me up, considerably. Vivarin or No-Doz work wonders.

    On the question of waking up from a fifteen minute nap ... on BMB, I would take a Vivarin just before taking a nap, on the theory that it'd be hitting my blood stream and helping me wake up, just when I wanted to be waking up. But other times when I didn't do that, I still woke up in about fifteen minutes.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Cutting back on the caffeine in the months before long brevets does work. When I do that, I find that a nice cup of hot tea or coffee can really hit the spot. Coke and Nestea Ice Tea (brewed with real tea) are nice too.

    (And BTW - I prefer tea and will usually choose tea over coffee, but I made the discovery that on the PBP, it is better to choose coffee rather than tea, unless you bring your own tea bags.)

    However, a small word of caution about taking caffeine pills. I know some riders can take them with no trouble at all, and they work for them, but I discovered that I am not one of those riders. I can take caffeine pills to help me through a day of classes after staying up all night the night before, and they work just fine with no ill effects, but when I've taken them on brevets, about 30 minutes later, I'm violently ill. I don't know what it is, but my system just seems to want to get rid of them.

    If you are thinking of trying them, maybe try a low dose ... or try them on a 200 or 300K. Don't try them for the first time on any really big, significant event.

  12. #12
    Chocolate and nap Michelangelo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    [...]However, a small word of caution about taking caffeine pills. I know some riders can take them with no trouble at all, and they work for them, but I discovered that I am not one of those riders. I can take caffeine pills to help me through a day of classes after staying up all night the night before, and they work just fine with no ill effects, but when I've taken them on brevets, about 30 minutes later, I'm violently ill. I don't know what it is, but my system just seems to want to get rid of them.

    If you are thinking of trying them, maybe try a low dose ... or try them on a 200 or 300K. Don't try them for the first time on any really big, significant event.
    Same for me, but on simple coffee. I can drink loads of [French style] coffee at work and tried your trick on PBP. I figured no drinking coffee for a couple of days would increase coffee efficiency when needed. I tried it after over 400 km (means the first night and over half a day) and got instantly sick. Never tried coffee again on long distance rides. All in all, coffee does not work for keeping me awake (but 10' naps do wonders, during daytime)
    --
    Michelangelo (Dont break your bones, nap instead)
    L'Abeille de Rueil

  13. #13
    Senior Member claire's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the advice. On the 400 it was so cold during the night that stopping for a snooze was not an option... I was asking the question because it was pretty much my only problem on the 400: I didn't really hurt anywhere, except my ass but it seemed to disappear after a few hours, I didn't find the position uncomfortable for long periods of time and I was able to eat enough and digest my food. But I would sometimes have these moments of tiredness which made me really wonder what I was doing here and think there is no way I sign up for a 600... I'm doing my 600 (my very first!!) in a couple of weeks and dealing with the lack of sleep is really the only thing I'm nervous about!

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by claire
    ... I'm doing my 600 (my very first!!) in a couple of weeks and dealing with the lack of sleep is really the only thing I'm nervous about!
    Plan to sleep for a couple hours around about the 350-400 km point. It helps.

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