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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 09-03-12, 06:23 PM   #1
lungimsam
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How do you overcome the pain of long rides?

What are some strategies you use to overcome the pain, both mental and physical?
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Old 09-03-12, 06:41 PM   #2
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What are some strategies you use to overcome the pain, both mental and physical?
This (pic below) solves most of the physical ones. Mental? Well, I am weak minded, and can't help you with that one.

I point out the option of 'bents just becuase so few people on this forum are willing to do such a thing, although they are good enough (i.e. high enough performance, esp. climbing) now that they are a viable option (it wasn't always this way; it wasn't this way until the last 10 years or so...) If solving the problem in a more sideways fashion just doesn't appeal, I understand and that's A-OK by me. Again, just wanted to present one realistic option.

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Old 09-03-12, 06:58 PM   #3
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coffee
aspirin
Tylenol
18 years of long rides and adjusting things to get it right. Now I have the measurements written on the garage wall. I just copy the measurements now when I get a new bike. It's worked for many bikes. I've learned what saddle style I like. I have a steamer trunk full of saddles that I don't like. One has to try them sometimes. I don't remember how long it took to get it right, but it took a lot of experimenting.

Small change...long ride...repeat as needed. Try not to make big adjustments or more than one adjustment at a time.

I don't have mental pain when I ride. I'm happy on a bike.
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Old 09-03-12, 07:28 PM   #4
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What are some strategies you use to overcome the pain, both mental and physical?
Most people quit because of the mental aspect rather than the physical one (just observation here). It's real important to remember on the bike that in long events you have lots of up and lots of downs. When you're in one of the downs you have to realize that if you kick it back a notch or two you can ride through the downs. This is where a really good crew chief is worth his/her weight in gold.

As far as recumbents go, they haven't been very successful over RAAM distances so far. They have issues of their own, both physical and mantal. I imagine that we'll see more of them in the future but so far only a handful of them have even finished (solo) and their fasted times are two days slower than the fastest DF bikes.
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Old 09-03-12, 07:43 PM   #5
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As far as recumbents go, they haven't been very successful over RAAM distances so far. They have issues of their own, both physical and mantal. I imagine that we'll see more of them in the future but so far only a handful of them have even finished (solo) and their fasted times are two days slower than the fastest DF bikes.
You've got me wondering about the context of the OP's question. Doubles, randonneuring, 12 and 24 hour races, big Ultras like HooDoo, RAO, etc., or the big game (RAAM)?

A clarification on that might help focus the discussion a bit.

(Homey - by the way, you'll recall Barbara Buatois won RAAM on a recumbent two years ago. Another example of them being a reasonable option. Best option for everyone? - absoluetely, bloody hell, no. But for some people they do nicely. Not trying to make this a recumbent thread - not my intention at all - I'll be quiet now. Peace.)
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Old 09-03-12, 07:51 PM   #6
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if something hurts, I try to correct the reason for it hurting. Usually, there isn't anything you can do until the end of the ride. Although on a long ride, it's sometimes possible to stop and buy something for your ailments
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Old 09-03-12, 08:46 PM   #7
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...(Homey - by the way, you'll recall Barbara Buatois won RAAM on a recumbent two years ago. Another example of them being a reasonable option. Best option for everyone? - absoluetely, bloody hell, no. But for some people they do nicely. Not trying to make this a recumbent thread - not my intention at all - I'll be quiet now. Peace.)
I didn't forget her. What you have to realize is that because of all that is RAAM you don't have the same racers or quality (by quality I mean speed) of racer from year to year. If you compare her time to the fastest women she's two days slower. 11d:13h vs 9d04h for Seana Hogan. Average speed difference 10.59mph vs 13.23mph. Tim Woundenberg set the recumbent record for men that same year and he was two days slower than the fastest riders and one day slower than the 50-59yr old record (his class).

There was a four recumbent team that won that class one year but they didn't even brake into 5 days.
In fact their record isn't as fast as the four tandem record. I have nothing against recumbents but you need to look at them in the big picture and, at least at this point, they aren't there yet.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:05 PM   #8
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It's probably the oldest trick in the book, but mentally the best thing to do is break a long ride into smaller rides and make small goals along the way. If there's some kind of organized ride, rest stops or checkpoints are a natural way to break things down. I'll do that a lot on the last third of the ride or so. I'll make a time goal based on how I'm feeling and I'll know I want to make it to stop X by a certain time. I don't always reach the goal, but it gives me something to focus on besides how many miles are left to go.

The physical pain is just another mental hurdle to overcome, really (within reason and excluding legitimate injuries). Your legs are going to hurt. You just have to accept it and use whatever tricks you can to keep your mind off of it.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:08 PM   #9
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I have nothing against recumbents but you need to look at them in the big picture and, at least at this point, they aren't there yet.
Oye ve. I actually thought I was looking at the big picture. The OP asked about how to deal with physical pain on long bike rides. I showed him one possible way. For some reason you seem to want to turn this into a thread about RAAM, which is a very specific picture indeed, that may or may not have anything to do with what the OP is asking about.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:24 PM   #10
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Advil takes the edge off the muscle pain that eventually sets in on long rides. A cold drink from a convenience store - like a Coke - is a welcome stop. Stretch the calves/quads/shoulders while riding. I try to calculate how far to the next stop and an ETA to break the ride into smaller pieces.

On one particularly long ride by myself (from Kona to Volcano Village, Big Island), and no one else around, I sang hymns from Sunday school to keep my mind occupied, to the amusement of the wildlife and occasional passerby.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:25 PM   #11
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Oye ve. I actually thought I was looking at the big picture. The OP asked about how to deal with physical pain on long bike rides. I showed him one possible way. For some reason you seem to want to turn this into a thread about RAAM, which is a very specific picture indeed, that may or may not have anything to do with what the OP is asking about.
Actually, I was just responding you what you wrote... The results of races like the FC508, Hoo Doo and RAO are similar. If you are talking about flatter events then you have some other results.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:36 PM   #12
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Advil takes the edge off the muscle pain that eventually sets in on long rides. A cold drink from a convenience store - like a Coke - is a welcome stop. Stretch the calves/quads/shoulders while riding. I try to calculate how far to the next stop and an ETA to break the ride into smaller pieces.

On one particularly long ride by myself (from Kona to Volcano Village, Big Island), and no one else around, I sang hymns from Sunday school to keep my mind occupied, to the amusement of the wildlife and occasional passerby.
Advil is not such a good thing for long distance cyclists. It can increase your risk of exertional hyponatremia and can mask injury. It also increases your chances or having gastric issues.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:49 PM   #13
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Works for me. Proper nutrition and liquids should take care of the sodium loss on an extended ride while avoiding any GI issues. What works for one cyclist, however, may not work for another. Only one way to find out - and that's to go ride.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:51 PM   #14
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What are some strategies you use to overcome the pain, both mental and physical?
First, realize that a phrase like a "long ride" may seem intuitive to you, but actually means a lot of different things, depending on one's ability and experience. For example, if you can do 20 miles easily now but are finding a lot of pain and mental fatigue trying to go longer, that's one thing. If you can't do rides of that length to begin with, that's another.

If you can do short/medium-length rides without pain, then going beyond that's just a matter of training. If short rides are taxing, you may also want to do some exercises to improve your core strength, like squat jumps and split squads, which are great at building muscles that don't get enough work on a bike. Even if you can't swing the funds for some personal training, getting an assessment from a qualified coach may be beneficial.
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Old 09-04-12, 09:38 AM   #15
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Actually, I was just responding you what you wrote... The results of races like the FC508, Hoo Doo and RAO are similar. If you are talking about flatter events then you have some other results.
Homeyba: Do you have a theory as to why recumbents are not competitive on these events? My speculation: As I understand it, bike weight for modern recumbents is competitive with modern DF. And they are without doubt more aerodynamic. So for me, that leaves the fact that you can't stand up and hammer when climbing. I wouldn't have thought that that makes such a big difference, though. But maybe there's other stuff that I'm missing.

I guess that there's also potential selectivity bias -- the type of people who race recumbents just have not been as fast as the type who race DF's. I guess we'd need to have comparative statistics for the same people racing as hard as they can on both DF's and recumbents to sort that out.

Steamer: I'm open to riding recumbents, so don't take my questions as somehow an anti-recumbent bias. But on randonneuring events, I'm too slow to be able to give up any speed advantage, so if recumbents are in fact slower, then that would make it that much more difficult to decide to ride one. As yet, I've been able to be comfortable enough on DF's to successfully complete BMB, PBP and a 1000km. Though I've had residual hand numbness after each of these that certainly gives me pause.

To the OP: On any given long distance event (which I would count as century or longer) it's not unusual to experience some amount of mildly annoying pain for occasional periods. That kind of pain, it's best to just endure. As Homeyba points out, ibuprofen and hard exercise do not mix well. And I don't want to take drugs that mask pain, because without the pain you may be doing serious damage without realizing it. If you have acute, intense pain, then there is something really wrong with either your bike fit or your equipment. You need to figure out what is going wrong, not grit your teeth and ride through it. If the pain is associated with something, e.g. tendons, that has the possibility of keeping you off your bike for more than a couple of weeks to recover from, then in my view it's time to seriously consider DNF'ing, rather than risk causing serious injury.

Yesterday's 200km was a maiden-brevet-voyage on an '82 Trek 728 that I've built up to be a brevet bike, with a nearly-new saddle, and wearing nearly-new shoes. I've ridden that bike and saddle and the shoes for a couple of weeks of commuting, so they have a few miles in them. But as the day wore on I had to adjust saddle tension a couple of times, plus adjust saddle height, plus adjust the straps on the shoes. So I had to deal with a fair amount of butt/knee/foot pain through the day as things wore in, and until I got the adjustments all correct. By the final 25 miles, everything had stabilized and the knee and butt pain went away. Feet were still somewhat sore but that may have just been residual from the fact that the front straps had been too loose so my feet were moving around too much during the day. No pain anywhere on this morning's commute.

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Old 09-04-12, 11:15 AM   #16
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Homeyba: Do you have a theory as to why recumbents are not competitive on these events? My speculation: As I understand it, bike weight for modern recumbents is competitive with modern DF. And they are without doubt more aerodynamic. So for me, that leaves the fact that you can't stand up and hammer when climbing. I wouldn't have thought that that makes such a big difference, though. But maybe there's other stuff that I'm missing.

I guess that there's also potential selectivity bias -- the type of people who race recumbents just have not been as fast as the type who race DF's. I guess we'd need to have comparative statistics for the same people racing as hard as they can on both DF's and recumbents to sort that out...
I'd be guessing but I think it's probably a combination of things. The aerodynamics of recumbents to lend themselves perfectly to long distance riding. It's hard to beat them there. If you look at their speeds at intervals in long races it's the climbing that gets them. Their speed characteristics are very similar to tandems. I think also that we haven't seen a Jure Robic on a recumbent yet. There have been some pretty fast recumbents on shorter events but even in those events if there is a lot of climbing they don't tend to do so well. Recumbents also have comfort issues on long distance events. Not like what you see with DF bikes but they are there none the less. One of the things that Tim Woundenberg has done in the past to help with that is to bring two different bikes, a low racer and one with a more upright seating position. That way he's not stuck in one position for extended periods of time. I wouldn't be surprised to see more recumbents at long distance events. As they become more common you'll also see stronger riders so their performance should also get better. Especially if they can get more efficient at climbing.
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Old 09-04-12, 11:59 AM   #17
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What are some strategies you use to overcome the pain, both mental and physical?
What pain?

If you're experiencing any significant physical pain ...

1) You're not in shape. Ride more.
2) Your bicycle is not set up correctly for you.
3) You don't have the right saddle.
4) You don't have the right cycling clothing.
5) You're not hydrating properly (including the consumption of electrolytes).
6) You're not consuming enough of the right foods for you.

To solve those problems ... ensure your bicycle is set up properly for you ... ride more ... experiement with saddles till you find one that works for you ... ride more ... experiment with clothing till you figure out what works for you ... ride more ... experiment with hydration ... ride more ... experiment with foods ... ride more. And then, when you've got all that sorted ... ride more.



And once you've got those things settled and you're riding more ... the "mental pain" should pretty much solve itself.

My easiest centuries, for example, were when I was riding a century just about every week, with a double century thrown in about once a month for good measure, and the occasional longer ride. Centuries became normal training rides.

Last edited by Machka; 09-04-12 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 09-04-12, 02:56 PM   #18
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When I rode Paris-Brest-Paris on the fixed gear, my strategy was to ride in daylight hours and sleep during the night. Ideally, it would be three 400-km days of riding. I think it worked out more to 450/400/350, with some of the riding happening after sunset (e.g., riding until 10 pm to get to the target controle). But that's one way of dealing with pain: knowing that the pain will stop for the day when you reach a specific destination.

Once, during a 1000-km brevet that I was riding straight thru, I had already gone over two big mountain passes with a third coming up, and after about 32 hours, I figured I was done. I stopped at the controle in Leavenworth, WA and asked the guys there if I could get a ride back to Vancouver (Canada). They said that they had to be at the controle (a motel) until early the next morning, so I slelpt for a half hour and then decided that I could ride home faster than that, so I continued, and it didn't hurt as much as it had been. I finished in just over 45 hours, in the rain (but that's another story). (NOT on the fixed gear!)

As for the bents debate: It's all about the climbing. Riding PBP on the fixie, I would pass all manner of bents, even those with fairings, on the climbs. I was actually resting on the climb, using my body weight to drive the pedals. The guys in the bents were constantly doing weight training on a leg press machine. I would imagine they'd be having lower back issues if they were overgeared. Also, bents tend to weight more, with the longer chain, third wheel if it has one, additional steering linkages, etc. Yes, they'd come blasting by me on the descents (especially the ones with the fairings), but they wouldn't be going appreciably faster than the standard bikes with freewheels. And you spend way more time going uphill than downhill on most rides, so bents would tend to lose more time on the climbs than they'd gain on the descents, or even on the flats.

I'm sure if you had an ultra event that was dead flat, a bent with a strong rider would likely win. Or it might be a tossup against a strong tandem team. You might want to check one-day Seattle-Portland (STP) results. On the fixie, I have trouble keeping up with bents on level ground. And on a geared bike, even if you caught a bent, you wouldn't be getting much of a draft off it.

Luis
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Old 09-05-12, 02:29 PM   #19
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What are some strategies you use to overcome the pain, both mental and physical?
I think cyclists by default must possess a stronger will than the regular Joe. After all, we do climb mountains using human power alone so "mental pain" is probably not a common problem for us. AFA as physical pain, I sit or stand when I climb as my body suggests. On flats I shift around and vary hand positions as needed.
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