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  1. #1
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    Novice - preparing for 1800 mile ride. Advice please!

    Hey folks, I just typed up a really long post and lost it when I tried to post because I got logged out, so here is the short version.

    Riding 1800 miles starting 6 weeks from now.

    Background - extensive hiking and running experience, former infantry, novice biker commuting with cyclocross

    questions: 120ish miles a day, completing the trip in roughly 15 days. Possible? If not, what is a reasonable goal? Want to do it as fast as possible.

    Need a new bike. Have about 2 grand to spend. Will mainly use bike for shorter, lighter traveling in the future, want something fast to complement my current cross for rugged use. Carbon supposedly comfortable, leaning towards that, thoughts?

    Training. How should I train? Have all the time in the world. Was thinking starting with 20miles and adding 5 each time, 5 times per week. Is that reasonable?

    Thanks everyone, I really appreciate any help you all offer. I'm doing this ride to raise awareness for a good cause.

    peace.

    guess I forgot some other info: will need to carry light gear, maybe 10lbs. im 27 years old, 5'9 and 200lbs, going to try to lose 10lbs. going with a partner. guess that's all!

  2. #2
    Randomhead
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    this sounds like ultralight touring to me. I could move this to the touring forum. OTOH, they are probably going to tell you that 120 miles per day is around 2x too much. Do you plan on staying in hotels, or camping?

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    Senior Member bhchdh's Avatar
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    120 miles a day seems like alot to me, but i'm not as young nor in as good shape as you. I say train as much as you can, I would try to work up to a few back to back 80 mile days before commiting to 120 a day. That said; Ride on McDuff, and damned be he who says, hold enough.

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    If we are talking creditcardtouring it certainly is doable, if fully loaded on a heavy touring rig it would be quite an accomplishment and not something I would try to do. If your CX-bike takes racks I would consider putting on skinny tires and go as light as possible with your gear. 120 miles a day should equal 8-10 hours on the bike which is a lot day in and day out though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    this sounds like ultralight touring to me. I could move this to the touring forum. OTOH, they are probably going to tell you that 120 miles per day is around 2x too much. Do you plan on staying in hotels, or camping?
    I looked into touring a bit and it doesn't really seem to mesh with what I'm looking for, we intend for this to be a serious test of endurance, finishing as quickly as we possibly can. If we could only do 60 miles a day, we'd have to cancel the ride. That said, I'm more concerned with the physical aspects of this and what people in this forum think about training and bike choice, I can read about how to camp and pack in the touring forum I think.

    I know that we will not be staying in hotels - we're poor college students. Probably camping. I plan on taking only some ultralight backpacking gear that I have, a thermarest neoair, some microfiber clothes, and basic necessities - since it will be very hot it is easy to pack light. This is also why I don't want a heavy true touring bike, I'd like something meant to be fast but comfortable.

    Thanks for your help.

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    Have you ever ridden back to back 120 miles before? Go do that next weekend, think about what you want to do on Monday, you'll know if it makes sense.

    As for 10 pounds of camping gear - I don't know if that's possible! Maybe. Don't forget you'll need to carry a little bike repair stuff too.

    I doubt you'll have time to raise awareness of anything.

    Sorry to be negative, but I think it's unrealistic.
    ...

  7. #7
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wagontrain84 View Post
    Riding 1800 miles starting 6 weeks from now.

    (snips)

    Training. How should I train? Have all the time in the world. Was thinking starting with 20miles and adding 5 each time, 5 times per week. Is that reasonable?

    (more snips)
    No you don't have all the time in the world. You have almost no time. Basically, this tour would even be a good test even for a pretty serious and experienced ultra-cyclist, and becoming one of those probably takes closer to 6 years than it does 6 weeks. I am usually the last one to be a naysayer, but this time I think you should either scale back the plan, or give yourself a year to get ready - do this thing next year - but start getting serious about training NOW. A year of preparation makes this much more realistic.

  8. #8
    Senior Member tcmers's Avatar
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    This type of trip is certainly possible, but six weeks is not nearly enough time to prepare unless you have a significant cycling base already. I've done a loaded tour (Aprox. 40 lbs of gear on a steel framed touring bike) and covered 580 miles in 5 days. Prior to this, I was riding 120-200 miles per week for nearly two years. It was a tough ride, and I suppose that I could have continued on that pace for another 600 miles, but I am not sure that I would want to. I agree with the previous posters....plan this for next year. Spend this year training, including a few back to back 120 mile days.

  9. #9
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wagontrain84 View Post
    Riding 1800 miles starting 6 weeks from now.... 120ish miles a day, completing the trip in roughly 15 days. Possible? If not, what is a reasonable goal? Want to do it as fast as possible.
    Unless you plan to sleep 1.5 hours per day, it's a tour. Wanting to push yourself doesn't change that fact.

    For example, the Paris-Brest-Paris ride is one of the premiere ultra-cycling events at 1200km with a 90 hour time limit. If you planned to do your ride in 5-6 days instead of 15, then I'd say it is an ultracycling event rather than a tour.

    If that kind of thing really interests you, look into the PACTOUR stuff which is operated by Lon Haldeman. They routinely do 100+ miles per day, have a SAG van that can do limited repairs, will arrange all the hotels, make food arrangements and lug your gear. Contact them and they'll let you know what kind of training they recommend.

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    Randomhead
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    he may well end up getting very little sleep. I have done some credit card touring, and it's not trivial to do those kinds of distances day after day even if you are staying in a hotel. You still have to buy food, find water and try to keep your body from falling apart. The people on the supported Pac tour rides end up eating, riding, and flopping in the hotel.

    As a practical matter, 6 weeks is very little time to train. You really want to cut back the last couple of weeks. If you are in very good shape, 4 weeks is a decent amount of time to peak, but otherwise it's not going to work.
    Last edited by unterhausen; 07-04-11 at 11:59 AM.

  11. #11
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    he may well end up getting very little sleep....
    I concur, but to me there is a line (albeit a fuzzy one) between touring and ultra events, and to me it's based on duration and the choice to stop at a hotel every night and try to get some real sleep.

    There are numerous challenges that are common to both (e.g. long-distance comfort, eating consistently) and others that are not (navigation, sleep deprivation, managing a crew). And needless to say, squeezing 1800km into 15 days is still very difficult, but less challenging than doing it in 5 days. So to me, this is still a "tour" rather than an ultra.

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    Randomhead
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    agreed, it's a tour. Only going to move the thread at OP request though.
    If the difference between LD and touring is that LD riders aren't sensible enough to stop for the night, the OP is doing LD , albeit over and over.

  13. #13
    Riding Off to the Next Adventure, RIP hooligancyclist's Avatar
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    I suggest you get a coach in this short time span before the ride and ASAP. No matter how much you pay, it will be worth it. Even 400 dollars of coaching will help you to avoid way more than 400 dollars of mistakes.
    "Well, folks, here's the deal: I'm the best there is, plain and simple. I mean, I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence. You know, nobody can hang with my stuff. I'm just a....just a lean, shaven, American winning machine."

  14. #14
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    You need to be able to spin the pedals for prolonged periods.
    You need to know how to do basic bike repairs on your bike, and have the equipment to do it.
    You need to carry enough water. You need experience riding in the heat so you know how much you need to carry, and you need your route planned out where you know with some certainty where the next stop is.
    You need a bunch of money. Riding a bike sounds cheap, but when you start buying all your food and your drinks and your water and ice at convenience stores, it adds up in a hurry. You can go through $50 or $60 a day on longer rides without any problem.
    You need to know how hot it is along the route. You may be planning to ride through places you just shouldn't ride through.
    You need to know prevailing wind directions and how hilly/ mountainous it is along the route to plan speeds.
    You need some idea of camping options along the way. If you live some place where there's lots of public land, you may assume you can just find lots of good camp spots along the way, but that's not necessarily the case.
    You need some way to tote your junk. Bikes built for speed aren't usually designed to carry camping stuff.
    You may have saddle sores, numb hands, or other issues like that unrelated to actual fitness.

    Probably the best training you could do is to go ride 120 miles a day for two or three days (ie, a 2 or 3 day tour, not just around the block 120 times) and see what kinds of problems you run into.

    Randonneuring groups vary some, but if you have a local group, try a 200k ride or two with them, and it might be informative. Don't be surprised if they ride more leisurely than what you're planning.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  15. #15
    Roadie brian416's Avatar
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    120 miles a day would be easy if you are in shape, but I don't think you'll make it. At this point you should already being doing 400 mile weeks in training

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    Good bike fit, shoes, and saddle

    This seems like a very long shot, and as others have said, six weeks is not much time; but if you're in really amazing shape, you might have a shot at it.

    Assuming that you are in amazing shape, it's bike-specific stuff that may get you.

    First, make sure your bike fits. It's way more important that your bike fits perfectly than that it be steel or carbon, a road sport bike or a tourer, etc. Spend the money to have a professional fit done.

    Second, you need to log some long miles with the saddle, shoes, shorts, etc, that you plan to use. On my first century, my cardio and my legs were fine, but the shorts that had seemed fine for short around-town rides caused me terrible saddle sores on longer rides, and my commuter shoes made my feet very unhappy. Testing stuff out close to home is useless; there's just no way to know what equipment will work for you until you take it out and use it on longer rides.

    Finally, do spend some time in the touring forums researching ultra-light touring. Ten pounds for two weeks is not impossible, but it will take some real research and planning.

    In any event, whether you succeed for fail, post back and let us know how it turns out.

  17. #17
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    Thanks everyone for the advice and help. It's much appreciated.

    I looked at the PACTOUR website, as was suggested, and that turned out to be very helpful because they do almost exactly what I plan on doing, same number of miles, etc. I've looked at everything on there from how to train, what kind of bike to ride, what to carry, etc. It talks about the average fitness level and age of the riders, which is around 40, and also they apparently ride at 17-20mph on the road to go 100+ miles, which is encouraging as far as time is concerned.

    I understand that this will be a severe test for us and I never expected it to be a comfortable trip. At the same time, we are both young and in good shape, I play soccer regularly and have been running for many years, and having been infantry in Afghanistan I know something about ultra-endurance endeavors so if nothing else, I know that MENTALLY I'm prepared for this. The issue, of course, is this is not the same as being "biking" in shape. It will come down to how the back-to-back 100 mile days end up going, I suppose.

    Also, feel free to move this to the touring forum. I'm not really sure, nor am I especially concerned, with how what I'm doing is classified, but I would like to see their advice as well.

    Thanks again, and I'll be sure to post updates on my progress.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Well - it sounded like a good idea at the time...........

    Like any other silly question - this type of thing would be better answered by your parents.

    Hey if you're lucky enough to have the time and the money - then go. If the success of you ride hinges on comments from strangers on the Internet - it makes very little difference what anybody posts.......

    Have a nice trip.
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
    2003 Lemond Wayzata - 2002 LeMond Malliot Jeune

  19. #19
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wagontrain84 View Post
    The issue, of course, is this is not the same as being "biking" in shape. It will come down to how the back-to-back 100 mile days end up going, I suppose....
    Afraid so

    Assuming you know the signs for heatstroke and how to handle it, the big remaining issue given your training window is that you could get an overuse injury. Since it's a relatively short trip, though, ending the tour early won't wind up as a major imposition.

    I still think you'll be better off taking more time and doing the actual PACTOUR. It's a little more expensive than going solo, but the effort is the same and they'll provide critical support and a wealth of experience.

    Good luck, and don't forget to post how much your legs hurt after it's over

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian416 View Post
    120 miles a day would be easy if you are in shape, but I don't think you'll make it. At this point you should already being doing 400 mile weeks in training
    exactly. If you think you can do it, then try and enjoy the car ride home after the first maybe second day. I put down 40 miles a day and try to get at least 100 miles on the weekend and I still don't think I could manage 120 miles a day for a long period of time. I know what its like to be overconfident and I also know what it feels like to fail lol.
    Last edited by sjvcycler; 07-08-11 at 06:12 PM.

  21. #21
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    I'm kind flustered about this forum. I run into a few ranonneurs at century rides, and there is a 'type cast' about them, often 'not friendly', and sort of 'clubish' [not everyone of course, and everyone is an individual...but just an observation I've picked up]. That's ok too, since riding such long distances takes a certain 'character makeup'...a ruggedness that might conjure feelings of 'fraternal' brotherhood or something among other randonneurs. I've been reading, and bicycling's roots are in the randonneurs and much of what we know and enjoy today come from eurpean long distance cyclists [especially French and Italian]. So, I admire and respect the 'club'...and not sure I have the stamina to be of their 'cut'. But...I'm interested nonetheless. There is a 'romanticism' that captures my imagination about the freedom of taking off on a bicycle...and no, not like in touring [I've done that]...but where one is part of something at least 'quasi competitive' [not so much against one another, but against one's self for PR's and the like]. A PR on one's own volition is ok...but when others are out there...

    Anyway, I'd be interested to know what unterhausen thinks of this link:
    http://www.flacyclist.com

    If it is 'touring' or 'randonneuring' or something else?

    How do you guys support yourself on long rides? You gotta sleep along the way...eat...drink. What are the 'dangers'. Since in USA, it's all 'le libre' [free form, not in groups..forget the term, can't speak french or italian]...it means long hours ALONE. I want to do this. But I usually get snubbed, ha. Oh well...paying dues I suppose.

    Bike lights; what are popular. I use nightrider [nickle hydride bat, but only good for about 3 hours]...and make night rides all the time..but feel foolish. People think I'm nuts riding at night. I probably am, ha. Safety. How do randonneurs feel about safety...riding in unknown territories at, say 3am...

    stories; love to hear stories.

  22. #22
    Randomhead
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    Many randonneurs also take long tours. The difference between touring and long distance riding really boils down to whether or not you are sensible enough to sleep for the night. Randonneurs ride at night a lot, most of us don't find it particularly dangerous. Good lighting and reflective gear is key to keeping it that way.

    The best way to read stories about randonneuring is on people's blogs.

    Since you seem to be interested in personal times, you might be interested in riding permanents. This has two advantages. First is that someone else figured out a route for you to take. Second is that your time is recorded. To ride a RUSA permanent, you have to be a RUSA member.
    Last edited by unterhausen; 07-18-11 at 12:05 AM.

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