I have grand visions of myself one day being part of the monster-miler crowd. Those kilometer kings and queens churning out 15,000km seasons and completing multiple SR series in a single year.
Then there's the reality I'm faced with: I attempted a long ride on very little sleep this weekend, and I found myself falling asleep on my bike. Here's how I set up my little experiment -
On the basis of ride reports, it seems that many riders sleep ~2 - 3 hours a night (tops) while doing a very long event (1000 - 1200k). A common number I hear tossed around is that riders will sleep ~1.5 - 2hrs on a 600k. So, armed with that knowledge, and some stalwart determination, I put myself forth to my task; ride the Tour de Cure century loop twice, starting on the night before and meeting the organized group for the 7am start with already having a solo overnight loop completed.
I got my usual 6 hours of sleep on Thursday night, worked a full shift on Friday (I'm a desk jockey, so it's not like I was tired from working a strenuous labour job), came home and dealt with some chores, had dinner and managed to get... a 2 hour nap before starting out. Perfect! I was thinking. Right? Just about the amount I hear people talking about.
So I ate some breakfast, suited up and hopped on my bike for round 1. Aside from the rain all night long, and 1 very agitated dog who wouldn't shut up while I read my cue sheet at a stop sign, it was a great ride. I finished in just short of 7 hours, got back to my apartment and threw some of my wet gear in the dryer, had my dog out for her business, and settled in for a 30 minute nap.
I geared back up, had another cuppa coffee, munched some food and went to meet the gang for round 2. I felt good. My legs were fine, and although I was a little bit tired I didn't feel horrible. Setting off on lap #2, I was maintaining a 14.5mph average and between eating and drinking I didn't have any cramping issues.
The problems set in after mile 40 on lap 2... Cars seemed louder. Other riders calling out their passing position would startle me, even though I had seen them in my mirror. I caught myself sagging my head a few times, and another rider around mile 48/49 gave me a tap on the arm as I was heading towards the gravel shoulder of the road. Even though I had more coffee, a soda and a 5hr Energy in me at that point, I could not stay awake.
For safety's sake, I packed it in at the 52 mile rest station and got a ride home; I was genuinely afraid to keep riding anymore, even if I had stayed it out for another nap at that stop.
So, after my rambling, I have some questions for the burly big milers:
How in the heck do you overcome your sleep deprivation? Is it something you can literally train up to, similar to building up to longer and longer miles?
Was I simply too ambitious with this first attempt, and maybe should have capped it at just a 200k instead of going for a full double?
Sleep dep hallucinations: Annoyance to be overcome, or signs to take a break?
Bonus question: This was just me doing a double loop on an organized charity ride. If I had a control cutoff and time in the bank, what is your preferred pattern - scatter a couple 20 - 30 minute naps across the remainder of the ride, or bag it all in a single 1 - 1.5 hour nap, then continue on?