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  1. #1
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    I'm a newbie to distance riding and am looking for general advice!

    Hello!

    I'm just getting into distance riding (60-100 mile rides). I find that often when I ride, I go fairly fast and comfortably for a bit, then all of a sudden it is like I hit a wall. My legs are cramping, and I just feel exhausted and uncomfortable, and for the remainder of the ride I am pretty much shot.

    Any idea why this happens? Maybe I am just not in good enough shape, but I'm wondering if it has something to do with my blood sugar or something? How much should I be eating during a ride? And what is the deal with lactic acid building up in muscles? Is that actually something that is common? I've read about it but it is hard to say if that is what is going on with my legs.

    I bet I sound like a total noob, but aside from biking recently, I have never done any sports or anything.

    I've done some google searches for my questions, and I have gotten some good information but I was hoping some folks here could give their thoughts too.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member joewein's Avatar
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    You're probably not eating enough. Start eating an hour into the ride and aim for 200-300 kcal per hour. These calories can come from both food and drinks.

    If you don't eat, your body's glycogen stores only go so far and then you "hit the wall". With steady regular eating you can keep going almost indefinitely (until lack of sleep takes its toll).

    Read Tips for riding a Century.

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    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabbit View Post
    ... . I find that often when I ride, I go fairly fast and comfortably for a bit, then all of a sudden it is like I hit a wall. ...
    Do marathoners run a marathon at 100-meter sprint pace? No
    At 400-meter "sprint" pace? No.
    At the pace a miler does a mile run in? No.
    At the pace of a 10-km race? No.

    To go farther, you have to slow down a little bit.

    2-miles-per-hour is the difference between having to stop after two hours and being able to ride all-day (and all-night, too).
    Enjoy the ride.

  4. #4
    Randomhead
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    I find my performance is much more related to my food intake than my speed. If I get the food right, I'm good to go. If my legs start feeling dead, I know I need to eat. Actually, if I start whining about the next hill, I know I need to eat even though my legs might feel fine.

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    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Oh yeah. A screw up with fueling alone will do it. A screw up with pacing alone will do it. Combine the two and it's inevitable and it ain't pretty.

    An extremely short course on each.

    fuel: somewhere in the 250-400 cal per hour range. do lots of experimenting to find what works for you. you are not eating to replace calories burned. eat too much and you'll find yourself in pukesville.

    pace: Never go anaerobic if you can help it. Restrain your enthusiasm on hills. Most of the time your pace should permit conversation with fellow riders. If you are gasping, you are riding too hard. If you are riding too hard to keep up with others, drop off the back. Finishing the ride strongly at your pace is more honorable than toughing it out and blowing up half way through your randonee and struggling to barely finish.

  6. #6
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    If you're looking for a workout, going fast is fine. Otherwise, you have to pace yourself. Helps if you've got somebody riding your speed to talk to, makes it more fun, too.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  7. #7
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    Thanks everyone for the advice. I've thought more about it and I definitely don't eat enough while riding, so I will try to eat every hour during my next ride.

    As far as speed goes, well, it is fun to go fast! As long as my body feels okay, that is. It is really a bummer when I hit this wall, and I guess my goal is to get into good enough shape so I can cruise along comfortably for an extended period of time. I bet that'll take a lot of time and training rides, but any general advice on how to get faster? Is it a good idea to push myself during rides? Or will speed come as I keep riding?

    Thanks again

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    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabbit View Post
    Thanks everyone for the advice. I've thought more about it and I definitely don't eat enough while riding, so I will try to eat every hour during my next ride.

    As far as speed goes, well, it is fun to go fast! As long as my body feels okay, that is. It is really a bummer when I hit this wall, and I guess my goal is to get into good enough shape so I can cruise along comfortably for an extended period of time. I bet that'll take a lot of time and training rides, but any general advice on how to get faster? Is it a good idea to push myself during rides? Or will speed come as I keep riding?

    Thanks again
    Nobody is saying to never ride fast.

    The point is that the pace and effort match the duration and goals of the ride.

    A shorter training ride should include periods of high intensity interspersed with easier efforts (i.e. intervals) or can be done at a consistently hard pace (tempo).

    A long ride (say, 4 hrs or more) needs to be approached very differently. Unless you like bonking and feeling terrible.

    A diet of short-ish, very hard rides during the week with a longer, sensibly paced ride on the weekends is one way to improve your LD riding. Think of the long ride as an 'event' - one where you are looking to ride strong and steady the whole way through. Get practice managing your pace, your fueling, your hydration. If you hit the wall on this ride, consider it a temporary failure and a valuable learning experience. Do better next week.

    The shorter, very hard training raises your overall fitness level so your comfortable cruising output/speed on the event day is faster. Hard training stimulates fundamental adaptations to your cells, muscles, capillaries, and central systems that will make that comfortable pace be at a higher wattage. An all day pace is not super intense for anyone, even with very well trained. You can only go so hard when you are going so long. All of us are bound by this basic fact.

    You wont get faster on game day by riding yourself into the ground after 4 hours.

  9. #9
    Senior Member antimonysarah's Avatar
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    If you want to think about speed on a long ride, try to negative split it -- do each ten miles a little faster than the ten before, and set it up so the final ten is at your "speed" pace. If you can do ten miles at tempo at the end of a long ride, you're pacing it right.

  10. #10
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    When you become metabolically efficient you only need to supplement your ride with about 30 calories an hour.
    Look up "the angriest trainer" podcast on iTunes or do a google search for Vinnie Tortorich. He is an ultra cyclist and personal trainer.
    Another great podcast is "Fit Fat Fast" by Jon Smith.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearhawk View Post
    When you become metabolically efficient you only need to supplement your ride with about 30 calories an hour. ...
    Yeah, good luck with that...Where do you get that he's an ultra cyclist. For that matter what is an ultra cyclist? From what I can tell he's a runner. I don't claim to know everybody but the ultra distance crowd is pretty small and I've never seen him at any long distance event in SoCal?
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Besides getting your nutrition right, make sure you are hydrating properly, that includes the proper electrolytes and minerals. That may help with your cramping. Cramping is difficult because there is no one cure that works for everyone. Some people just camp and others don't. Long distance riding isn't something that many people can just get on their bike and do without some issues. For most people it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out a recipe that works for them.
    You do need to be able to moderate your effort. You can't ride long distances at 100%, if you get into the "red zone" you're screwed and it will take quite a while to recover and the only way to do that is to slow down. Learning when, where and how hard to push is part of the learning process.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  13. #13
    Randomhead
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    I cramp badly in the early season. The strange thing about it is that then I take an enduralyte and eat and I'm good to go. Never really figured this out. I'm starting to realize that my eating and fitness are related, I have a lot less trouble eating when I'm in good shape.

  14. #14
    squatchy
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    I hope you ment to say eat 300 calories an hour. That's freakin rediculous to think you can do an endurance event on 30 cals an hour. You burn more than that sitting in a recliner watching TV. What a joke!!!

  15. #15
    ... part of the machine. the engine's Avatar
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    Very simple really ... eat properly and pace yourself.

    Everyone is different, some need more calories than others, but I don't know anyone riding long distances that doesn't eat frequently, and eats at least 300 calories per hour. Drink plenty of water ... don't dehydrate, as well as being an energy killer, it's dangerous. Find a pace that suits you. Some people can ride faster/longer, and others have to ride at a slower pace. I can ride 100+ miles at 14 - 15 mph, but feel toasted afterwards, so I try and keep pace around 13 - 14 ... that little bit makes a big difference for me. I'm not racing, so I don't try to keep up with the fast riders. I ride my own ride, and usually have enough energy afterwards, to spend time doing other activities with my family or friends.

    Try different things, and you'll find what suits you ... take advice, but decipher what is best for YOU.

    I repeat myself ... learn to eat properly, and learn to pace yourself. It will solve your problem.
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