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Old 06-09-09, 03:51 PM   #1
wristwister
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STP: Am I NUTS?

I signed up for the STP just before they sold out. I'm still not sure I'll do it, but I registered just in case, knowing there would be 100 people who would gladly pay for my registration should I back out.

Here's my hesitation on the STP: I'm reading all this stuff about how I should be conditioning myself for the ride. I should be doing centuries, back to back 50+ mile days, group rides, paceline training etc. etc. etc.

I don't have time for ANY of that! Basically, I do the 30 mile R/T commute to work a few days a week, that's it. Been doing it for a couple months now and my old body seems to be handling this whole biking thing pretty well so far.

So ... am I stupid to take on the 2-day STP based on no further conditioning than the commute? Are back to back 100 mile days going to kill me? Or if I keep my pace reasonable, stop and rest often, will I have no trouble with this ride? Wadayasay?
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Old 06-09-09, 04:58 PM   #2
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I would say that you need to train more than 30 miles a few times a week if you want to enjoy STP. The main thing is saddle time. No matter how much resting you do, your butt will be on the saddle for at least 6 hours or more per century and if you're not used to it, it will hurt. What you can do, is go out this weekend and just ride a hundred miles and see how you feel. That will answer your question pretty quickly.

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Old 06-10-09, 12:14 AM   #3
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I signed up for the STP just before they sold out. I'm still not sure I'll do it, but I registered just in case, knowing there would be 100 people who would gladly pay for my registration should I back out.

Here's my hesitation on the STP: I'm reading all this stuff about how I should be conditioning myself for the ride. I should be doing centuries, back to back 50+ mile days, group rides, paceline training etc. etc. etc.

I don't have time for ANY of that! Basically, I do the 30 mile R/T commute to work a few days a week, that's it. Been doing it for a couple months now and my old body seems to be handling this whole biking thing pretty well so far.

So ... am I stupid to take on the 2-day STP based on no further conditioning than the commute? Are back to back 100 mile days going to kill me? Or if I keep my pace reasonable, stop and rest often, will I have no trouble with this ride? Wadayasay?
You NEED to make time or you'll suffer on that second day!
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Old 06-10-09, 08:44 AM   #4
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It can be done.

I've ridden two STP's, each in one day. The first year my riding consisted of commuting to work a couple of times a week (19 miles each way), some lunchtime riding, and some weekend riding; never more than a total of 80-100 miles per week. The longest single ride I did that year was 50 miles. I still finished STP in about 14 1/2 hours. The next year I did similiar training and did a 70-mile ride; I finished STP that year in 13 1/2 hours. I was 42 years old on my first STP and I'm not going to tell you how long ago that was.
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Old 06-10-09, 09:01 AM   #5
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30 miles r/t = 15mi per ride with an 8 hour break in between. It's good base mileage, but it's not going to condition you for a back-to-back double. I'm not saying that you won't be able to do it; but you will most likely not be comfortable with it.

Think about it in these terms: How long does your 15mi trip take you? A modest estimate is going to be 1 hour.
Now think about doing your round trip commute 3.5 times in one day, for two straight days.

If the longest distance you've ridden is 15 miles at a single time, there are many factors that you need to consider when increasing that amount by 660%. <-- Take a good look at that number. The suggested increase in distance until you reach the 100mi distance is 10 - 15%.
Hydration, caloric intake and electrolyte replacement all become concerns at the century distance.

I'm not trying to sound discouraging, but I don't want your first attempt at a century ride to be a physically painful disappointment that sours you from long distance rides in the future. If you want to know where you stand for the STP, you should ride the Flying Wheels century this weekend. Take the metric option (65mi) and see how you handle it. Then, ride a 40 - 50 miler on Sunday so you have an idea of what it feels like to do back-to-back long rides. After that, decide if nearly doubling that distance each day seems feasible.
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Old 06-10-09, 09:08 AM   #6
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I think you may suffer a bit, but you'll make it. As the prev. posters have noted, that's not really enough base mileage/saddle time to be strong and comfortable with centuries on consecutive days.

Having said that, yes you can do STP if you ride at a VERY easy pace (an easy pace for you, don't be trying to keep up with the fast riders), hydrate well and eat a little very often. Keep the nutrition going in, don't just wait for the rest stops/checkpoints.

DO NOT Hammer! You have all day, and it's a long time in the daylight that time of year, so hammering will just do you in.

Without the adequate base mileage you will still suffer, but you will make it, you will survive, you will arrive in Portland on the 2nd day with a huge sense of accomplishment!

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Old 06-10-09, 10:29 AM   #7
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Overall, it's probably a bad idea to try to ride 200 miles if you only do 15 mile rides. People may disagree, but not all "base" miles are created equally. You can ride 120 miles a week in 15 mile increments twice a day, 4 times a week, but that would not contribute to endurance as well as three 40 mile rides a week or a 30, 40 and 50 per week.

Find a day to give yourself a test, wake up early on a Saturday and see how you feel after 50 miles. I did the one day STP last year and my longest rides were 100 once, 60 once and 50 maybe three or four times and the STP was a breeze (aside from the butt soreness). It's a relatively easy course and pacelines save a ton of energy, but if you've never ridden 2 hours by yourself, you are not going to make it 6 hours without some serious pain.
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Old 06-10-09, 10:36 AM   #8
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I agree with the concensus. I've done STP twice and I think getting some longer training days in is pretty important. You don't need to do 80+ a whole bunch of times, but you do need to ride a few 50+ days to be able to finish without undue pain.

That's not to say you won't make it. But you will probably be hurting pretty bad.

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Old 06-10-09, 10:50 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice all. I understand and agree with what you all are saying regarding conditioning and doing some long rides before the STP. However, every weekend and every spare minute is booked solid from now till then. No time for rides, other than my work commute.

Over the last few months, I have done a couple ~40 mile rides. I seemed to handle them just fine. And I don't know if I've got a great saddle, perfect shorts, or maybe a pre-hardened butt, but I haven't experienced any butt pain from riding yet, aside from the first few commutes and maybe some minor discomfort on those 40 milers.

So the consensus seems to be: I'll make it as long as I keep a gentle pace, but I might be in agony on Day 2. I'm pretty stubborn, I don't back down from a challenge, I can handle a bit of agony, and I could use the bragging rights from a 200 mile ride. I'm thinking I'll go for it.

Your all welcome to send "I told you so" cards to the hospital at the conclusion of the ride.
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Old 06-10-09, 11:18 AM   #10
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Figure out what's causing your "minor discomfort" at 40 miles, and fix it now.
A minor discomfort at 40 miles can turn into a "holy sweet gods make it stop" pain after another 160 miles.

(I made that mistake on my first double after returning to LD cycling, and ended up with 3 toes and 2 fingers that I couldn't feel for almost a week.)

Being stubborn is one of the cornerstones of LD riding. Forget that it's hot, or it's raining, or it's cold. Turn the cranks. Or it's midnight and all the people going to the bar look like they're having a great time and you've been riding for the last 17 hours and there's still 5 miles of rolling hills to the finish. (Oh wait. That was my last big ride...) Turn the cranks.
The RUSA handbook has a great quote (I don't remember who from) regarding pain and LD riding: If you think it will heal up within 10 days, keep riding.
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Old 06-10-09, 12:06 PM   #11
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No time for rides, other than my work commute.
And your work commute is about 15 miles each way.

You need to figure out how to get more conditioning into that time / those miles.
Suggestions:
1. You are probably riding a bit faster than you were earlier in the season; but, don't leave home/work later, instead, keep using the same amount of time as you needed at the start of the season.
2. There might be more than one route you can take to work, or home from work. Find the hilliest route and ride that. Or, find a hillier route, ride it for a week, then go to a hillier one, etc.
3. When you get near work, or near home, and have another 5 or 10 minutes, ride a bit further, or take a detour to get in some more miles.
4. Do some interval training. Check it out in the books or on-line, but the idea is to force your speed up for a while, ease off for some recovery, then repeat. If you're riding at 16 mph, more or less, speed up to 18 or 20 for a couple minutes, then ease off to 15 for a half minute or so of recovery, then go back after it.
5. Practice things you'll need to do on the ride -- like, drinking an entire water bottle worth every hour. Fill your bottle, and drink it dry on the ride to work, and again on the ride home. Practice eating some snacks while riding. Gather up all of the gear that you think you will have with you on the bike, pack it however you'll have it on the ride. You want to avoid logistic and mechanical difficulties ... why add to your stress level when you're supposed to be having fun?
6. Find out now which electrolyte replacement drinks work for you and taste good to you. If the freebie drinks at the major stops aren't on your list ... just say no. Your innards will thank you.
7. In years past, there has been a single packet of Chamois Butt'r, or similar, in the registration material. But, you're riding two days, and your rump may need extra care ... put some in your bag that you'll be picking up at the mid-point, so that you'll have more for Sunday's ride.

You will be sore Saturday night; you will be stiff Sunday morning, and Sunday night you'll be beat. But happy.

8. (added) If you are worried about making it up "The HILL" just past Puyallup: since you're showing Snohomish as your address, take a ride up the Col Hollandaise, i.e. Dutch Hill. Go east out of town on 2nd/becomes 92nd/becomes 88th. It's all up after the turnoff to the soccer fields. The total distance to the top, and the climb amount, are virtually identical to The Hill. The false-flat section on the Col Hollandaise is longer than the flatter part of The Hill; that means that the steep parts of the Col H. are steeper than their counterparts down in Pierce County. When you are done, you can either turn around and come back down, or take a left on 131st, drop down an incredible slope north of Dutch Hill School, take a left on 3 Lakes and cross over Hwy 2 by the pallet factory and return to town on the Centennial Trail.

Last edited by moleman76; 06-11-09 at 01:52 AM. Reason: added point #8
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Old 06-10-09, 02:24 PM   #12
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I would get at least a 75 miler in before. Word to the wise.... make sure your seat doesn't have any raised logos or what ever on it because it will transfer to your butt.
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Old 06-10-09, 10:36 PM   #13
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Is it at all possible to sell your place this year and plan ahead to train properly next year?

I'm not riding this year because I need to catch up on work on the house and yard that I didn't do last year because I was training every weekend. Biggest work load for me is the garden; it really suffered last year, as the gardening season is also the STP training season. And, I'm doing a lot more than I usually do so that next year I can train for the STP and the yard won't be so pathetic-looking.
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Old 06-10-09, 10:36 PM   #14
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I predict lots of pain (plenty of Ibuprofen at the rest stops though.)
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Old 06-12-09, 07:15 PM   #15
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I agree with most of above. Your butt WILL hurt that said I'd wager you can do it but how much fun will you have? Perhaps you enjoy suffering.

This will be my third STP. I am not as prepared as in years past but I am comfortable with where I'm at.

Ride safe
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Old 06-16-09, 03:28 PM   #16
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Get in more mileage the first day , if you can. I went to Winlock ( Egg! ) and found the second day to be a cinch
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Old 06-17-09, 04:47 PM   #17
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Get in more mileage the first day , if you can. I went to Winlock ( Egg! ) and found the second day to be a cinch
Not a bad idea, if you can make it over the Napavine hill, since it's basically downhill from Napavine to Winlock; and, you'll have the worst of the uphills out of the way.
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Old 06-17-09, 05:29 PM   #18
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Dude, go for it. I'll be doing the hobbles with you. Granted I've been training, but I am still one fat clyde and the furthest I could ride in February was 7-8 miles.
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Old 06-18-09, 01:01 AM   #19
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Re: Winlock...

It's worth riding the hill to stay a the High School (if they have any room left) rather than staying at the elementary school (basically on the route).

The showers at the elementary school have a direct pipe feed from the terminus of the Nisqually Glacier. I have never felt water that cold from a showerhead in my life.

There were literally schoolgirl shrieks....coming from the men's showers.... :-)
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Old 06-19-09, 12:17 PM   #20
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Re: Winlock...

It's worth riding the hill to stay a the High School (if they have any room left) rather than staying at the elementary school (basically on the route).

The showers at the elementary school have a direct pipe feed from the terminus of the Nisqually Glacier. I have never felt water that cold from a showerhead in my life.

There were literally schoolgirl shrieks....coming from the men's showers.... :-)
One of those shrieking was me. It was still 90 degrees and I stepped into that shower and my teeth were chattering in about 3 seconds!
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Old 06-19-09, 02:31 PM   #21
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Go for it! I want you to, because I plan to ride it next year, and I haven't been on a bike in 15 years. So I'm looking to hear the experiences of others, and learn what works for everyone else! Keep us all posted!
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Old 06-20-09, 09:25 AM   #22
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You'll be fine if you don't ride those super long pacelines when they crash. Your butt will hurt but everything else will be fine. Don't eat the watermelon (if they still try to kill people) at rest stops because it is a diuretic and you need to keep as much water in your body as possible. I did it twice many years ago with about 7 days of training just before the ride. I figured out how many calories I would need and bought super dense calorie bars and just ate them according to my schedule, not relying on hunger. Same with water, drink a certain amount, don't wait until you're thirsty. The first year I didn't sign up for it so I just put on my panniers and rode with the group. You'll be fine.
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Old 07-05-09, 06:03 PM   #23
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I figured out how many calories I would need and bought super dense calorie bars and just ate them according to my schedule, not relying on hunger. Same with water, drink a certain amount, don't wait until you're thirsty.
That is what I am trying to figure out. It looks like I would need about 1000-1200 calories an hour. That seems like a lot. But I rode 50 miles today and I had to stops for food. I probably only had about 300 calories at each stop and I don't think that was enough.

In the heat I was really fading towards the end.
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Old 07-05-09, 07:07 PM   #24
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That is what I am trying to figure out. It looks like I would need about 1000-1200 calories an hour. That seems like a lot. But I rode 50 miles today and I had to stops for food. I probably only had about 300 calories at each stop and I don't think that was enough.

In the heat I was really fading towards the end.
No.

That's approximately 4 - 4.5 times the amount your body can process in an hour. If you try to eat that much, you're going to end up in serious g.i. pain. My last long ride was over 15 hours; I can't imagine trying to take down 15,000 calories. That's almost 4 days worth of food.
I ride a decent bunch of long distance. 6 centuries, 2 double metrics and a triple metric so far this year. The 300 calories you ate at each stop is about the amount you should be eating per hour. 250 - 300cal is the general amount your body can process; don't try to force more than that in.
If you're eating constantly, that's 1 Clif Bar and 1 gel per hour. Don't cram all your food in one 5 minute break each hour. Nibble while riding.
I eat sandwiches while riding: I cut them into quarters and keep them handy in my front bag so I can chow down while on the go.
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Old 07-05-09, 09:53 PM   #25
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Follow this thread from NorCal for advice regarding what you are getting into:
Anybody doing STP this year?
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