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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 02-08-08, 10:59 AM   #1
Creakyknees
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Food for 4+ hours

So I'm a long-time roadie, been racing/riding since the 80's. But rarely over 60-70 miles or so. A big part of the reason why is, I've never been happy with my ability to maintain pace (not bonk) over that distance. I've tried a variety of powders, bananas, rally rest stop food, my own concoctions, but it always seems that around 3 or 4 hours, the legs are gone and riding is no longer much fun.

So, I've read articles, including the quasi-science on Hammer Nutrition. But I still have questions:

- is it simply a matter of training? e.g. the food choices are pretty ok, but I just need more miles?
- is it the food? e.g. bananas are fine for 50 miles but wrong for 100?
- is it riding style? e.g. I'm cruising my normal 2 hour pace, maybe pushing a bit harder than necessary over the hills, right up till bonk time. Should I just chill out and avoid the efforts to extend endurance?

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Old 02-08-08, 11:05 AM   #2
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200 - 300 calories an hour. After that if you still are fading you need to train more or see a physician.
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Old 02-08-08, 11:09 AM   #3
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little at a time

We use up the stored energy supplies in out muscles after anywhere from an hour to two hours. Then the body has to switch gears. My best experience is to keep putting in small amounts at regular intervals. Nuts, peanut butter, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and snack bars have worked best for me. There is always going to be some discomfort at some point. Chew each snack slowly and completely. Use as much water as you can. I'm not sure what science will say, but these practices have helped me. I averaged 80+ miles per day on part of a cross country tour. Interesting quote I remember, but not who said it: "...those who know how to suffer win races..."
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Old 02-08-08, 11:44 AM   #4
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I used to have a problem with legs aching, weak etc. it turned out to be not drinking anywhere enough. Upped it to about a bottle an hour and now the legs feel great.
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Old 02-08-08, 11:54 AM   #5
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I like to ease off a bit for the first 3 or 4 hours while drinking enough that I need to stop for a pee break at least once, preferably twice. Also eat an energy bar every hour or so, then on the last hour of the ride I push the pace until it's time to cool down near the finish.
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Old 02-08-08, 12:18 PM   #6
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- is it riding style? e.g. I'm cruising my normal 2 hour pace, maybe pushing a bit harder than necessary over the hills, right up till bonk time. Should I just chill out and avoid the efforts to extend endurance?
This probably has something to do with it. I would say until you get several 70-100 milers under your belt, ease back on the pace and slow down a bit on the hills. Maybe try to keep you HR under a certain number for your first longer ride and see how it feels. BTW, I have this problem too as I like to climb at a faster rate and it's hard to slow down.
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Old 02-08-08, 01:46 PM   #7
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Cut your pace, ride longer. It's a mistake racing roadies make in long-distance cycling.

Get some long steady distance into your riding (LSD). Some pooh-pooh the idea of LSD early in the season to build a base, saying that interval training is the way to go. Well, I think you might be a classic example of someone whose body is attuned to shorter distances through intensity training.

So, with your upcoming pre-season training, get out there and aim to do 160 and 200km rides at a low to moderate pace. And not just one or two, but every week in pre-season. Keep your heart rate down rather than elevate it through sprints and hill repeats (they come later).

The pro cyclists all build their endurance on LSD before they start in on the fast stuff. The fast interval stuff then can improve your overall speed over the distances you want to do because you have the endurance to handle it. If the pros do it (in just about every sport you can think of), I can't see why amateurs like us can't learn from it.
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Old 02-08-08, 02:42 PM   #8
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As others mentioned.... You need about 250 calories plus 500-750ml of liquid per hour. Obviously you want a lot of that to be carbs. You also need electrolytes, so an energy bar + sport drink will usually do the trick.

Interval training builds endurance, and it does so faster than LSD rides. Some routines are oriented towards sprinting, of course, but the general principle of "one hard day a week" definitely applies.

For example, the following is a typical century training chart: http://www.planetpedal.com/goals/cen..._schedule.html You'll see similar techniques for marathons as well, e.g. 1-2 fast days, 1-2 pace days, a slow day, a rest day etc.

Note how the long rides are at pace; in your case, you might want to dial back your pace speed for a few weeks. You may also want to do a negative split on the century day.

Last but not least.... Sign yourself up for a half marathon. After running 13 miles, 100 miles on a bike will feel downright relaxing.
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Old 02-08-08, 04:52 PM   #9
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<<>> Interval training builds endurance, and it does so faster than LSD rides. Some routines are oriented towards sprinting, of course, but the general principle of "one hard day a week" definitely applies. <<>>
Intense training builds oxidative capacity much faster than LSD, but my feeling is that it alone does not build adequate endurance for LD riding. You need both - intense training and miles per week. The only way to get a lot of miles/week is to ride much of them at a moderate pace, like zones 2 and 3.

I think of it as two separate tasks. Intense training builds speed (wattage) and the ability to deliver more watts for a longer time. Miles/week builds the ability to complete long rides comfortably. When you start the third mountain pass, it really comes down to mileage. I find it a tricky balance, to be able to ride enough distance with enough intensity mixed in to produce speed gains, yet not overtrain or overreach.
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Old 02-08-08, 06:17 PM   #10
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interesting thread.

i've gotten so tired of the clif/odwalla bars that i've switched to simple quaker oats granola bars (chocolate chip). but even so i still find myself craving REAL food on long rides (such as a thai dish, just something hot from a restaurant).

anyone have tips on what real food works for LD cycling? pasta's good, i know, but what else? what real food is bad for ld cycling?

(because unlike what gatorade wants me to think, i'm a human cyclist, not a robot built for sport!)
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Old 02-08-08, 06:49 PM   #11
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interesting thread.

i've gotten so tired of the clif/odwalla bars that i've switched to simple quaker oats granola bars (chocolate chip). but even so i still find myself craving REAL food on long rides (such as a thai dish, just something hot from a restaurant).

anyone have tips on what real food works for LD cycling? pasta's good, i know, but what else? what real food is bad for ld cycling?

(because unlike what gatorade wants me to think, i'm a human cyclist, not a robot built for sport!)
First, plus one to the 250-300 calories per hour recommendation.

Second, real food ...
-- 100% pure orange juice
-- beef jerky
-- salted almonds
-- oatmeal raisin cookies
-- oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
-- pastries
-- Tim Horton's ... whatever you like there!
-- Subway ... same thing
-- pizza
-- cheese sticks
-- burritoes (like from a convenience store ... in fact, pretty much anything that appeals to you in the convenience store you happen to be at)
-- hamburgers and fries, or maybe just the fries
-- chips, cheezies, etc. (I've been known to stuff a bag of cheezies into my bento bag to munch while I ride!)
-- chicken sandwiches
-- granola bars
-- cereal bars
-- fruit
-- dried fruit bars
-- dried fruit
-- canned fruit (those little one-serving tins)
-- shelled sunflower seeds

That should get you started. Basically, when I ride I eat whatever appeals to me. And yes, I have eaten everything on that list, and more, on my long rides.


For example, I did my 400K last year on beef jerky, salted almonds, corn chips, ice cream bars, a few granola bars, a couple cans of Ensure, Coke, orange juice, and HEED.
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Old 02-09-08, 09:37 AM   #12
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By the way Creakyknees, if you don't have one already you should pick up a heart rate monitor. It's very possible that you're going anaerobic at various points during your 70+ mile rides, thus using up blood glycogen too fast and contributing to your bonking. I.e. you might be able to ride 100 miles pretty close to your normal pace, and just take it easier up the hills, and not bonk.


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Intense training builds oxidative capacity much faster than LSD, but my feeling is that it alone does not build adequate endurance for LD riding.
Yes, that is why those schedules include long rides at pace on the weekends.

I'm definitely not advocating pyramids 7 days a week, by the way....


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Intense training builds speed (wattage) and the ability to deliver more watts for a longer time. Miles/week builds the ability to complete long rides comfortably.
For a guy who's already a racer, LSD will do nothing for his performance. Mentally it would help, but physiologically nada.

And when you're hitting that 3rd mountain pass, sheer will may get you up the hill, but it can't prevent you from going anaerobic. Interval training and keeping an eye on the ol' HRM will.
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Old 02-09-08, 09:42 AM   #13
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So, I've read articles, including the quasi-science on Hammer Nutrition. But I still have questions:
If you've read all the Hammer articles, you should have a pretty good idea of what's going on.

Quote:
- is it simply a matter of training? e.g. the food choices are pretty ok, but I just need more miles?
The truth is - it IS simple. As you should already know, the reason for eating is to preserve glycogen stores during long, somewhat intense efforts.

Much misinformation has already been posted. But I'll weigh in with some accurate, but "generalized" comments.

Everyone starts a long ride with a combination of fuel sources. However, depending on the intensity of your effort, you "draw down" a different proportion of these fuels.

You wrongly assume that you can "eat your way" into preserving glycogen levels no matter your pace. Wrong! You can't substitute "miracle foods" for glycogen-fuel during exercise.

You need to understand what and why "aerobic" training raises performance overall. And discover how to ride at a pace that spares enough glycogen to finish the effort without weakness.

Last edited by Richard Cranium; 02-09-08 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 02-09-08, 03:11 PM   #14
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For a guy who's already a racer, LSD will do nothing for his performance. Mentally it would help, but physiologically nada.

And when you're hitting that 3rd mountain pass, sheer will may get you up the hill, but it can't prevent you from going anaerobic. Interval training and keeping an eye on the ol' HRM will.
No-one said anything about LSD doing anything for his speed performance. What it will do is increase his ability to sustain it. It is well known in just about any endurance sport that putting in the LSD miles (and I am NOT talking about Long SLOW Distance here) whether cycling or running, will increase endurance and the ability to continue performing at the end of the season. Football codes are rife with stories of teams who sprint ahead on the tables early in the season because they have concentrated in the pre-season on speed and strength, but linger at the bottom of the tables at season's end because they run out of puff.

And it depends on how you ride that mountain pass as to whether you go anaerobic or not. With the right bike set (ie gearing) and the right endurance fitness, you could quite well ride up a mountain pass without going anaerobic. It might take a while, but it might also be better than blowing up on the side of the road.

I don't often agree with RC (more the attitude than fact), but his last comment on preserving pace to preserve glycogen stores is pretty well spot on in my estimation. And you can really only find out what the balance is to get you to the end of a long ride with Long Steady Distance riding.

The OP can't get past 70 miles or so without blowing up. It suggests very strongly that he needs to back off his pace, do as RC says and create a balance between glycogen stores and energy output, put in some decent pre-season Long Steady Distance rides (because the in-season events perform the same task), starting at a lower pace, and gradually trying to increase it on every LSD ride, to increase his endurance.

Interval training is excellent for increasing that pace. But I really believe you can't have one without the other if you want to go long-distance riding.
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Old 02-10-08, 11:54 AM   #15
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OK, let's clarify a few things here....

Long Rides Are Included In The Plan
I am not, in any way shape or form, saying "don't do long rides at pace," nor am I saying "do pyramids every day." The schedule I linked to, and my previous post, ought to make it very clear that long rides at pace are one of several components of a good, basic training plan for century and ultra rides. This includes:

1) Long rides at pace, to build slow-twitch muscles and mental preparation
2) One brisk / hard-effort day, to increase LT, cardio fitness, fast-twitch muscles (yes you need those), and rapidly build endurance
3) Rest days (including tapering before the event)

Simple, right?


What Interval Training Does For LD
First, interval training of the type I am describing -- one hard day per week, combined with long and short rides at pace and 1-2 rest days -- will improve your aerobic system, increase your LT *and* rapidly build endurance.

I.e. I am not talking about strength training, gym workouts, lifting weights, pyramids 6 days a week etc. I'm talking about doing one day of hard effort, combined with appropriate recovery time and longer, consistent, aerobic efforts.

Second, it will build your cardio and endurance faster and more efficiently than just doing long steady rides, day after day and week after week.

Third, intervals will build fast-twitch muscles, which you use for climbing and for headwinds. LSD will only exercise slow-twitch muscles, i.e. an LSD-only plan will not help you on the hills or in wind.

Fourth, it is beneficial overall to vary your training plan -- as much for mental as physical reasons.

A little more info on intervals and endurance is in this NYT article.



Why LSD-Only Will Probably Not Help Creakyknees
I think we all agree that Creakyknees is very likely burning through all of his readily-accessible glycogen stores.

However, just "going at a slower pace" will probably not resolve this problem. Why?

It's possible that some of the issue is improper replenishment. It's also quite likely that at his typical pace, Creaky spends (for example) 95% of his time riding aerobically and 5% anaerobic. Going anaerobic chews up his glycogen rapidly and strains his metabolism, and voila: bonk.

It isn't the 95% of the time he needs to work on, it's the 5%. Toning down the pace for the whole ride won't do anything for him; in fact, if he's still going anaerobic on the hills or into the wind, he will see little or no improvement at all.

The only way he can tell whether he's going anaerobic is with an HRM; and the only way he can do more work without going anaerobic is by basic interval training.
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Old 02-10-08, 12:26 PM   #16
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Quick question: Are the articles on commercial sites like Hammer Nutrition useful and believable?
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Old 02-10-08, 12:49 PM   #17
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Quick question: Are the articles on commercial sites like Hammer Nutrition useful and believable?
I've found their information to be fairly good.

But like with everything you read ... on the internet, in the newspapers, in magazines, or elsewhere ... use your critical thinking skills as you read.
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Old 02-10-08, 07:39 PM   #18
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Quick question: Are the articles on commercial sites like Hammer Nutrition useful and believable?
Hammer's articles are pretty good.

They do go a bit too far into the "our stuff is great, other stuff isn't" side, when in fact some of their stuff doesn't work well for some people.
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Old 02-11-08, 10:44 AM   #19
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I prefer real food and at least 20 ounces of water per hour. I like to take light and natural foods like dried fruit, 150 calorie portions of salty nuts, maybe a banana, oat-bar, etc. Nothing fancy, and I don't tend to consume more than about 100-250 calories per hour. Unless I'm on a 6+ hour ride, then I may pick out a 30-minute period where I eat more and ride a little slower, or even stop for 10 minutes.

The only time that I like gels, sports drinks, or other powders is when it is over 38 degrees C., when I find it difficult to eat much. Then I try to sneak my calories and extra electrolites in with my drinks.

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Old 02-11-08, 01:24 PM   #20
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Hey all, thanks for the input; you've validated a lot of what I was thinking.

I'll be working on avoiding the over-threshold spikes, and eating/drinking right during my long rides.

Creak.
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Old 02-11-08, 04:06 PM   #21
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I ride flat Centuries at 17 - 18 mph avg. during the summer (starting in late April thru November really). I can eat whatever I want though I do stay away from beef, any fast foods or anything too heavy or greasy. Generally I drink Gatorade at about 50 - 60% mix. I tend to stop every 20 miles or so (club ride, riders like to stop more often). While riding bananas, fruits, pastries, buttered roll (I love a good buttered roll), rice krispy bars, chocolate covered éclairs, just about anything. At the lunch stop it's a Turkey club sandwich with lots of yellow mustard and some ice cream. I also tend to drink a coke at some of the stops but generally I'll drink something with a different flavor that the Gatorade in my Camelbak. I'm probably not a good example of what to do.
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Old 02-16-08, 04:27 PM   #22
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I just stumbled into this thread and it covered something I was tempted to post myself. I don't do more than a few centuries each season, and I've had varying degrees of success. Some I've finished comfortably (well, relatively) and some I've been more dead than alive. Bonking at 75 miles is not fun. I really believe the difference is nutrition. The times I've bonked have been charity rides where I've allowed myself to be too dependent on rest area food. At charity rides this tends to be whatever they could get donated, not necessarily what is good for the cyclist. I was looking for suggestions for things to carry on the bike to supplement this. This thread has given me several, but I still wouldn't mind more ideas.
Also, does anyone have any suggestions on sports drinks? I frequently use diluted Gatorade but I find on a long ride if I drink too much of the stuff I get stomach cramps and nausea. Yet I know I need to drink something. Powerade seems to not produce quite as strong a reaction but I still can't drink a whole lot of it. Suggestions?
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Old 02-16-08, 04:59 PM   #23
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Also, does anyone have any suggestions on sports drinks? I frequently use diluted Gatorade but I find on a long ride if I drink too much of the stuff I get stomach cramps and nausea.
As far as I know, the only thing in Gatorade that would make you nauseous is the refined sugars (e.g. sucrose & fructose syrups). See if you can find an energy drink without sucrose or fructose. Normally refined sugar is fine, it can just upset some folks' stomachs when exercising.
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Old 02-17-08, 04:30 AM   #24
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Also, does anyone have any suggestions on sports drinks? I frequently use diluted Gatorade but I find on a long ride if I drink too much of the stuff I get stomach cramps and nausea. Yet I know I need to drink something. Powerade seems to not produce quite as strong a reaction but I still can't drink a whole lot of it. Suggestions?
Water.
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Old 02-17-08, 06:11 AM   #25
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I used to have a problem with legs aching, weak etc. it turned out to be not drinking anywhere enough. Upped it to about a bottle an hour and now the legs feel great.
Same here.

I've been training with my daughter, who is doing an ironman in April. I started dying between 40-60 miles consistently. We reviewed my intake and determined my electrolytes, especially sodium, were probably way low, since I am a heavy sweater, even in cool weather. I switched to a high sodium drink (Eload) on the next ride and experienced instant improvement. We did a century last week and I finished in better shape than some 50 mile rides where I was not getting enough sodium.

By the way, very few sports drinks have the sodium content I've found that I need. Eload, Gatorade Endurance formula, and InfinIT are some that do.

Bob
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