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  1. #1
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    Long distance hurdles

    Back on New Years Day I decided for ****s and giggles to go out and do a 100 miler, it got cut short due to bike problems but I still managed 82 miles in the lovely slush of a New Hampshire winter. It was the longest ride I had did since 1995 by a long shot. I remember as I was heading back home asking the question 'Is this a sign of things to come'? I should killed myself then and there for being stupid enough to ever ask that question.

    The rest of the winter I suffered through bike problems of kind or another and flat out didn't trust the bike worth a darn to try to do any kind of a long ride from home. Finally spring arrived and in mid May I went out and did the century ride plus a little extra due to forgetting the turn I was suppose to make. A couple of weeks later I went out and did a 123 miler. I looked at the weather as I knew I had been mapping out some rides already that I was thinking...like an idiot, of doing. I knew the one ride had a major requirement attached to it. I had to do before the kids got out of school in mid June. I wasn't about to be anywhere near the seacoast when everybody and their brother was going to be there. After I got home from the 123 miler I looked at the weather forecast and it looked gorgeous for the day after Memorial Day. Everything was perfect except my biggest ride thus far had only been 123 miles. The ride to the seacoast and back was going to be 207. To make a long story, short, the day after Memorial Day, 6 days after doing the 1st 123 miler I did the 207 miler to the seacoast and back. 5 days later I did another, different, 123 miler that I cut short due to weather and a bit of fatigue still left from the 207 miler and the other 123 miler before that.

    On the second 123 miler I started noticing bike trouble once again and finally ended up breaking down and upgrading from a 7 speed system to a 10 speed system and the bike has become massively much more reliable for the first time since I stopped driving back in May 2010. Now if I could only get rid of the noises it would truly be grand.

    Now more recently I knew I was running out of available daylight for doing long rides this year so on each of the past two Wednesdays I've did two separate 200+ mile rides that I had also been thinking about doing since mid May. The second trounced the first one and made me realize I have started to get in shape finally.

    On the first double century I was out of it when I got home...actually I was out of long before I got home simple because it was the first real warm day around here all year and after the first 80 or so miles I also had blistering sunshine to deal with as well. I wasn't used to highs in the mid 80s. It had been quite a while since I had last seen temps like that. The two doubles in the past week and a half have been a breeze, considering what I was expecting. The first one had two decent climbs that ended up leaving me rather unimpressed to say the least and the most recent one had one climb that was rather unimpressive as well. I finished both of the doubles with plenty of daylight and plenty of energy to spare. Yes, I was noticing some cramping but as to energy, I had plenty and could have easily kept going if I would have had a reason to and had the daylight available.

    This brings up a rather interesting question:

    What are the normal long disance hurdles that occur? Aka, the stumbling blocks that generally act as a barrier to a cyclist? For example, a real bad one at that, would be the 20 mile marker for someone running a marathon.

    I know you always hear build up slowly. You always see these training schedules for doing your first century, yadda, yadda, yadda. After doing the century where is the next 'normal' 'breakpoint'. Most people don't have the time time to go out and ride 100 miles once a week. So how do they normally make the jump to double centuries, triple centuries, something like RAAM? Is there a point in the 'cycle' where it's truly just 'repeative'(?sp) and you can add on the miles without even trying and you don't have to 'build up to it' anymore?

    I hope my question/s makes sense.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    For the most part, I think the only specific milage hurdles that exist are the ones that folks invent in their own minds.

    As Homeyba's signature says, "It doesn't get harder, you just go slower."

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    When people do the 100 mile distance for the first time, or perhaps once a year on their local annual century, they often struggle around the 60-80 mile point ... around that point, the ride is getting long, but the end is not quite in sight yet.

    The best way to get over that is to ride 100 miles regularly or distances longer than 100 miles ... like 200Ks (125 miles) or longer. I told someone once that the best way I've found to make a century seem easier is to ride a double century. Once you've done a double century ... a century a few weeks later doesn't seem nearly so hard.

    In my case, I had ridden several centuries and a couple casual rides of 200 km before riding my first 200K randonnee ... so I felt quite comfortable with the distance. However, I rode that on a heavy mtn bike with a torn rotator cuff which made the distance a bit more challenging. Two weeks later I did the 300K (actually 323 km - a double century) on a road bicycle with a more healed rotator cuff, and it was easier than the 200K randonnee! So the leap to a double century for me was quite easy.

    Three weeks later I rode a 400K ... and three weeks later I rode a 600K.

    I rode a lot in between those rides, although no ride longer than 120 km. Lots of rides in the 40-60 km distance during the week and longer on the weekends. But basically I used the previous long distance as a training ride for the next.

    And then, as the rides got longer, I broke them down mentally ... I rode numerous 60 km rides so I broke the 600K down into 10 x 60 km rides.

  4. #4
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    The hurdles as I think of them are physical issues that have to be avoided or overcome- hydration, cramps, nutrition, fit/soreness/numbness issues, sleep deprivation.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    The answers thus far are pretty much the same things I would say given what I have seen in the past and definitely what I've seen this year.

    This all leads to a much more...sarcastic thought, leading into a question.

    On the 202 miler I did a week and a half ago I bonked at around the 145-150 mile marker. I was going to stop at a store back around mile 138 but was feeling fine and knew the next stop was a little over an hour away. I skipped the stop and when I got into the small wussy footed climb between the two stores I ended up running out of stamina big time. The climb was hell and I finally pulled over and took the break I was going to take at the store and the second I started back riding the energy was back completely and I finished off the ride back at my usual pace once again. The climbs I were a little worried about at the end of the ride were a cakewalk. I have one distinct disadvantage...all roads lead uphill to my house, anywhere from 4-12+ miles of rolling climbs for me to get home whenever I go for a ride.

    This past Wednesday I made two mistakes, I forgot to eat breakfast before I left as I was mostly trying to decide if I wanted to press my luck with the weather forecast or not. I got so focus into looking at the weather that I forgot to eat breakfast...DUMB! I remembered about a mile down the road and I knew daylight was already burning so I kept going and decided on a different strategy thanks to what had seemed to work the week before. Everything was going fantastic, better than I could have ever expected out myself, for the first 50+ miles. With the rolling terrain I was still averaging over 19.97 mph at 52 miles. I was riding solo and I didn't figure I would stand a chance at ever seeing that kind of pace around where I live. I got to mile 79 and didn't make the planned/expected stop to eat and drink like I had planned on doing. The convinence store that I was hoping for wasn't there. I ended up waiting until mile 97 and by then I was already starting to bonk...hadn't ever experienced light headedness before while riding, but I know it was part of the bonk as my speed and energy was waning nicely as well. I stopped at 97 miles and took the break and when I started back out I was right back at it again like nothing had happened. I drink straight water nothing else...granted I think I may start adding pinches of salt into the water and see if that helps eliminate some of the cramping I've noticed during and mostly after the rides in the future. I typically eat two bananas a day no matter how much I ride so I know it shouldn't be potassium related and I drink around a liter of water each hour. Eliminating the cramps is the one thing I got to figure out yet. They are typically the worst after I get home not while I'm on the road but I do start to notice them while riding sometimes as early as 110-120 miles into a 200 miler.

    Throughout the years, back in the 1990s when I was actually riding the bike and still even now I see everyone going out trying to help get people to their first century ride and they always point out this crazy 12 week training schedule. If someone has did little to no biking I can kinda understand giving them a schedule as such, but if someone is semi regularly riding...what's the point in the 'stupid' training schedule?

    The point is to go out and ride the miles and get use to them. Go out and bonk a few times and you'll learn how your body operates and how to make it operate correctly so you don't bonk/don't bonk so early. You don't find that out by building up slowly you find it out by experiencing it. You can also find out how to give yourself a second wind by recovering from the bonk...trust me I've did it a couple of times this year.

    Shouldn't the suggestion be, unless someone hasn't did any kind of riding at all/isn't in shape, to go and put in the longer miles versus a slow build up training schedule?

    I guess I just have a strange way of seeing things.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    I don't think there is anything particularly instructive about bonking. It is a clear indication of a failure in one's pacing / fueling, but that's all. It's like getting an F on a test. It tells you that you didn't know the material, but doesn't help the material get into ye old brain. Success is not learning how to recover from a bonk. Success is not bonking.

  7. #7
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    I do agree on success is not bonking in the first place. The trouble is it's so easy to happen unless you always ride in a perfect world...no one does. You can train all you want and then come ride/race day find yourself in a totally new environment that will throw you and just about anyone that is unprepared into 'shock'/bonk.

    My first double this year was the warmest day of the year to that point. I had no way of being able to train for it. It was the temps and blaring sunshine that ended up helping me to pretty much bonk on the ride not the lack of biking. If I would have had the same conditions all day long that I had in first 3-4 hours of the ride, mid 70's and high cirrus overcast, I very highly doubt I would have bonked. I had no way of being able to train under those conditions because I hadn't seen them in 9 months.

    You never know when Mother Nature is going to throw you a curve ball and turn what should have been a great ride into the ride from he--. You've trained and trained for the double century and everything is going great. The problem comes up right before the event when a big warm front moves in and sends temps, normally that time of the year in the low 80s, into the 105-110 degree range. You can change your pace and make sure your drinking a lot more fluids than you normally would but your body is still not use to being in that kind of an environment. Do you know how to handle it when you body 'breaks down' and you bonk. Could you recover from it so you could finish the ride, both physically and psychologically? There is plenty to learn from bonking when you stop to think about it. When life, err circumstances, hands you lemons...can you make lemonade or do you drop out of the ride/race.

    One thing I have always heard in life is to hope for the best but expect the worse. You never know what's going to happen so you have to be prepared for anything to happen. The more you know how to handle the better off you are...including bonking. Sooner or later you will 'bonk'.

    Thinking back to your originally reply Steamer their may be a bit of meaning difference between what I'm saying and what your meaning. I always thinking of bonking of when you notice the 'rather' sizeable drop in average speed...say you've been doing 19.5-20 average for the first 5 hours and then you drop down to 17.5 or even slower and the terrain/wind hasn't changed any to help create the slower speed. At the same time you feel the energy waning. In this kind of situation, like I said above, can easily strike at any time because Mother Nature throws you a curve ball that you have never had a chance to train under. Can you recover from it or you drop out.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    What are the normal long disance hurdles that occur? Aka, the stumbling blocks that generally act as a barrier to a cyclist? For example, a real bad one at that, would be the 20 mile marker for someone running a marathon.
    I see your second post answers most of the first post's questions.

    For the most part - if you are tough guy then you can ride a bike all day and "tough out" a long ride.

    As far as the "next step" - things will get hazy. For the most part - being able to ride all night - and then still be able to ride well another day is about as far most people go. In theory - any healthy person should be able to ride a bicycle for 24 hours - but you know - TV and french fries and beer ruin it for most.
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
    2003 Lemond Wayzata - 2002 LeMond Malliot Jeune

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    As far as the "next step" - things will get hazy. For the most part - being able to ride all night - and then still be able to ride well another day is about as far most people go. In theory - any healthy person should be able to ride a bicycle for 24 hours - but you know - TV and french fries and beer ruin it for most.
    Now this does bring up a bit of a stupid question. It has been 16 years since I did any night time biking. My old Nightrider headlight batteries have long since flopped over dead and are totally useless anymore. I don't remember how I approached things back 16 years ago to really be able to answer my own question...it's been WAY too long ago and I think I only ever did two maybe three rides after dark back then.

    How much of a drop in speed do the guys normally see during the overnight hours compared to the daytime hours? Do they reduce their speed thanks to reduction in visibility/lack of full daylight. I realize some reduction would come from getting tired but how much if any comes from the darkness/safety factor.

  10. #10
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    I think people go slower, but I don't think it's generally because of safety. I love hammering at night. I just got in from a 88 mile ride, and I had my dynohub vibrating like crazy on the flats. It doesn't do that until I'm going, um, fast.

    My big hurdle is getting past 600k. Hopefully going to break that one before the end of the month.

  11. #11
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I ride as fast as my lights light up the road.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    How much of a drop in speed do the guys normally see during the overnight hours compared to the daytime hours? Do they reduce their speed thanks to reduction in visibility/lack of full daylight. I realize some reduction would come from getting tired but how much if any comes from the darkness/safety factor.
    There is usually a bit of a drop in speed, but for me it usually has to do with the quality of my lights, and the quantity of the light around me (i.e. a full moon), and the quality of the road.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    How much of a drop in speed do the guys normally see during the overnight hours compared to the daytime hours? Do they reduce their speed thanks to reduction in visibility/lack of full daylight. I realize some reduction would come from getting tired but how much if any comes from the darkness/safety factor.

    Really not much of a change. You lose some road visibility, but not much, but also have fewer cars, it's cooler, less wind, so other variables really become more important. If I'm riding by myself, it's slower to follow a cue sheet than in daytime, I might have to stop to read it, for example.

    One difference, too, is whether you're familiar with the road. On my "daily rides", I know where every crack and pot hole are, so they don't slow me down.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    IME, once you can handle 100 miles comfortably, you're good to go. Beyond, just pace yourself, stay fueled and hydrated, and you can handle pretty much any distance. Well, up to a 1200k, anyway... (that's as far as I've gone)

    SP
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbycorno View Post
    IME, once you can handle 100 miles comfortably, you're good to go. Beyond, just pace yourself, stay fueled and hydrated, and you can handle pretty much any distance. Well, up to a 1200k, anyway... (that's as far as I've gone)
    From my own experience I agree as well. Granted I haven't did anything more than 207 as of yet. I know this sounds bad, but hopefully it will stay that way for a while. I still can't believe I've ever did another century ride yet alone 3 doubles this year. I didn't think I would ever get myself back on a bike like that again.

    I do have one ride I want to do but I have certain requirements placed on the ride starting with it must be done in all daylight, solo, unsupported...roughly 246-248 miles with most of the climbing at the end of it, starting around mile 204, right before the end of the 207 miler(kinda the day loop for the whole ride) I did earlier this year. I just found out this morning one particular bridge that is key and critical to the whole ride got shut down to car traffic two weeks ago and is going to be replaced and isn't expected to be back open until the fall of 2014. It sounds like that ride is going to have to wait for a while before it happens.

    When doing the real long miles 600K or more do you start out slower than you would if you was only doing a century ride or do you start out at the same pace and just expect it to get slower as the miles rack up? I've always started out at the same pace and watched the miles get slower...especially anymore since I live in the hills and it seems like my darn rides are set up so the main climbs come at 100 miles. I kinda get forced to slow down as a result. Looking back at the stats from the ride last week it slowed down around the climbing and then the overall average speed picked right back up again when the terrain turned flatter and kept climbing until I made the turn back uphill at the end of the ride.

  16. #16
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    When doing the real long miles 600K or more do you start out slower than you would if you was only doing a century ride or do you start out at the same pace and just expect it to get slower as the miles rack up?
    As the rides get longer, not only do my average speeds go down, so does my starting speed. At least that's the theory: in my only 1200k to date, we started off at a furious pace, covering the first 100 miles in under 5 hours, IIRC. Probably the fastest 100 miles I've ever ridden. And that was the 90-hour ("slow") group. Yeah, I paid for it later, but as they say, I can resist anything but a challenge. FWIW, my finishing time was typically mid-pack.

    SP
    Bend, OR

  17. #17
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I did my fastest 200k on a 600k ride. We did it in 4:45. It made the next 400k that much harder. Interestingly, at somewhere in the 24-25hr range on a flat course, that wasn't my fastest 600k either. I rode a much hillier and windy course in 22hrs just by moderating my effort. Especially in the beginning. It's a little difficult sometimes to force yourself to back off in the beginning of a long ride like that, especially when there is a well organized group to ride with. You can stay with the group going 25-30mph working your rear off or drop off and go 18-20mph working your rear off by yourself. You have to be very careful to gauge your effort. Now days it's a little easier on brevets because they are enforcing opening times on the controls. As you can tell above they didn't used to. The first time I did the Goldrush 1200k we waited at the first control something like 45 minutes for it to open. None of us knew they were going to enforce the opening times. The next time I did the Goldrush the front group took off the same way. This time several of us bailed off the back and formed our own smaller group and arrived at the first control much more relaxed and only 10minutes before it opened. The moral of the story is that if you start a long ride at a reasonable (for you!) speed and keep your effort well within your comfort zone your overall speed at the end of the ride will be much higher. Go out too hard and blow up you are guaranteed to go slower overall.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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