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  1. #1
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Training for Randonneuring

    Hi folks: I have been wanting to ride the C&O canal(186 miles) in a day for quite a while. I wil attempt this late spring or early summer. I am a daily commuter logging in daily rides of 10-40 miles per day and usually 1 or 2 wknd rides 30-50 miles. Seems the legs feel strong some days and fried other days. I ride hard when they feel great and take it easy when they are tired. With such a huge ride as 186 miles, would it be best to rest for 2, 3 or ???? days before I try the long ride. Anyone who has ridden the long ones and rides daily, what do you do? Rest? Or just keep riding? Thanks, Charlie

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I just keep riding ... but then I've been at this a while, and many of my rides involve riding 186 miles, and when I'm done that I keep going and do another 186 miles or more.

    However, it does depend on your fitness level. How many centuries or other long rides have you done already this year? Ever?

    Have a look at my article about riding a century: http://www.machka.net/century.htm A 300K brevet (or double century) is basically the same thing as riding a century, just a bit longer.

    If 50 miles is your current long ride, I would strongly recommend starting to increase your distance now. This weekend, try a 60 mile ride ... next weekend, go for a 65 mile ride ... if that felt good, aim for a 75 mile ride the following weekend, and so on. 50 miles and 186 miles are completely different. You can feel great on a 50 mile ride with very little training and preparation ... but you need to make some plans, and work on things like your nutritional intake, for a 186 mile ride. I would recommend riding at least one century at some point before you attempt a double, so that you know you are on the right track with everything.

    As for rest ... a day off the bicycle before your 300K should be fine.

    All the best!

  3. #3
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    I would rest the day before and maybe not go out and hammer your brains off two days before,
    but the only 300km ride I did last year I just tried to keep my pace "comfortable" and stay in the
    saddle. This seemed to work

  4. #4
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info.
    Machka: your line"A 300K brevet (or double century) is basically the same thing as riding a century, just a bit longer. " Cracked me up. Please define bit. all kidding asside: I'm in decent shape but not young(52). I bike almost evryday, climb 2-3 times a week, and paddle in between. I have ridden centuries and have felt fine. I know I can "easily" make 100 miles, 120 no problem, 140 I think I'm gonna start feeling it and those last 30-40 are the crux. I'm sure mental fatigue will have set in, sore behind and heavy legs at the 140 mile point. I don't have a cell phone. This will make the possibilty of quitting early a little more difficult. I liked your page on the century. Will take notes, thanks. Next week(Easter week) I will ride 100-120 miles on simiilar surface to the C&O, crushed packed dirt just to see.
    Mikewarren: I agree about keeping the pace mellow. I won't hammer before as well.
    Nutrition: eat every hour and drink more often. This I can do but will have to constanly remind myself.
    Tunes: I have XM radio and think this might help with mental fatigue. Do you think it's worth the weight? C&O is off road.
    Charlie

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    Most people seem to think that a longer distance changes things completely and that they will fall in a heap. Mostly, it is like a shorter ride but longer. As long as you are comfortable on your bike (important) and keep eating and drinking, 300 feels pretty much the same as 200.

    Rides through the night are generally more difficult, usually because of sleep requirements (after midnight for most people) and the concentration required to compensate for comparatively poor lighting.

  6. #6
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    Randonneuring on the gravel (was Training for Randonneuring)

    I would think riding on the packed gravel of the C&O Canal for nearly a double century would make for a very tough day. I know that there are portions of the tow path up near Great Falls that I love to hike on because they're all broken up and rocky and remind me of hiking on mountain trails. But you'd have to portage the bike over portions like that, and I don't know how typical that is of the C&O. Have you ridden a lot of the C&O already?

    Maybe practice doing some long rides on the regular roads. They'll be more hilly than the C&O, but the core element of the long ride -- sitting on your saddle and leaning on your hands and rotating your feet, all for a really long time -- is no different. The DC Randonneurs club has a 200k on April 22, two 300k's (6 May and 13 May), a 400k on May 20, etc. See www.dcrand.org for more details. The 200 and 300 k rides are just the right length to be training rides for your adventure. The 400 is a longer distance, but since it is on roads it will be easier pedaling, except that it probably has a lot more elevation gain than the C&O.

    Regardless, I'd think you'll need some good lights.

  7. #7
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls
    I would think riding on the packed gravel of the C&O Canal for nearly a double century would make for a very tough day. I know that there are portions of the tow path up near Great Falls that I love to hike on because they're all broken up and rocky and remind me of hiking on mountain trails. But you'd have to portage the bike over portions like that, and I don't know how typical that is of the C&O. Have you ridden a lot of the C&O already?

    Maybe practice doing some long rides on the regular roads. They'll be more hilly than the C&O, but the core element of the long ride -- sitting on your saddle and leaning on your hands and rotating your feet, all for a really long time -- is no different. The DC Randonneurs club has a 200k on April 22, two 300k's (6 May and 13 May), a 400k on May 20, etc. See www.dcrand.org for more details. The 200 and 300 k rides are just the right length to be training rides for your adventure. The 400 is a longer distance, but since it is on roads it will be easier pedaling, except that it probably has a lot more elevation gain than the C&O.

    Regardless, I'd think you'll need some good lights.
    C&O is packed, relatively smooth(ish). It does have rough sections. There will be more resistance than roads but no hills and cars to think about. Thanks for the randonneur link.
    I was thinking about lights as I have to ride a mile through a tunnel but hopefully will finish before dark. That's the game plan anyway. I plan to ride on or near the summer soltice to max out daylight. I'm thinking 15 hours will be needed. Hoping for less time and praying that it doesn't go longer.
    Next week for preparation I am going to ride to the North Central trail, ride the trail itself and back home. It should be between100-120 miles. The trail itself is 80 miles of crush stone. If I can ride this then I'll give the C&O a try. If I fail then I fail. I'll let y'all know how it goes. And thanks again for all the tips. Gotta get one of the Bento bags. Charlie

  8. #8
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by balto charlie
    C&O is packed, relatively smooth(ish). It does have rough sections. There will be more resistance than roads but no hills and cars to think about. Thanks for the randonneur link.
    I was thinking about lights as I have to ride a mile through a tunnel but hopefully will finish before dark. That's the game plan anyway. I plan to ride on or near the summer soltice to max out daylight. I'm thinking 15 hours will be needed. Hoping for less time and praying that it doesn't go longer.
    Next week for preparation I am going to ride to the North Central trail, ride the trail itself and back home. It should be between100-120 miles. The trail itself is 80 miles of crush stone. If I can ride this then I'll give the C&O a try. If I fail then I fail. I'll let y'all know how it goes. And thanks again for all the tips. Gotta get one of the Bento bags. Charlie

    I would make sure whatever light you bring will allow you to continue should you have a bad flat day or anything else that might delay your time. I would recommend bringing gear for a 20 hr ride and being pleasantly surprised if you get 15. That way you will be prepared come what may.
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  9. #9
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    don't stop eating! is my suggestion for longer rides...i just wrapped up 105 miles today, including about 25 miles of packed dirt and some loose gravel, and was monitoring my average speeds as i tootled along.....

    I was spinning 15-16mph pretty consistent for the pavement portions the entire ride, but my speed dropped to about 13 for the off road portion of the tour. So, figure on dropping at least a couple miles off your average speeds on the dirt... I've ridden century distance rides where i was pulling 19MPH on gravel for extended duration, so you're not really limited except by the crank in your ganks.

    I've been riding my (unloaded, no touring load) mixed centuries on 37c Continental SportContact slicks, with the back tire Mr. Tuffy'd.

    If i was planning on doing 186 miles on gravel, personally, I'd bring a light bivy setup for a catnap if things go bonk! in the dark. Adventure medical kits makes a nice, 20 dollar emergency bivy- light, waterproof, warm, durable.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 04-11-06 at 08:27 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  10. #10
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    don't stop eating! is my suggestion for longer rides...i just wrapped up 105 miles today, including about 25 miles of packed dirt and some loose gravel, and was monitoring my average speeds as i tootled along.....

    I was spinning 15-16mph pretty consistent for the pavement portions the entire ride, but my speed dropped to about 13 for the off road portion of the tour. So, figure on dropping at least a couple miles off your average speeds on the dirt... I've ridden century distance rides where i was pulling 19MPH on gravel for extended duration, so you're not really limited except by the crank in your ganks.

    I've been riding my (unloaded, no touring load) mixed centuries on 37c Continental SportContact slicks, with the back tire Mr. Tuffy'd.

    If i was planning on doing 186 miles on gravel, personally, I'd bring a light bivy setup for a catnap if things go bonk! in the dark. Adventure medical kits makes a nice, 20 dollar emergency bivy- light, waterproof, warm, durable.
    That is sweet Bekologist! I didn't know about those, that's more handy than a space blanket and not much more weight for the sleeping bag anyway.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    I have 2 training schedules I could e-mail you. One for training for a century & one for a century with strength to spare. Each is a 10 week program courtesy of Bicycling Magazine.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul L.
    That is sweet Bekologist! I didn't know about those, that's more handy than a space blanket and not much more weight for the sleeping bag anyway.
    I've got one of those and have used it a number of times on my longer randonnees. I still carry the space blanket to use as a ground sheet (a little bit of extra warmth in the middle of the night) but I use the bivy to sleep in.

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1144898456518

    And there's this one if the one above is still too heavy for those of you who want to travel light.

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1144898456519

  13. #13
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Spending the night on the trail was not in the gameplan:-) I will listen to you and bring a space blanket. I guess my commuting light will also be brought but the sucker weighs a bit. I do like those bivy space blankets. Might investigate them. The one suggestion I liked a lot was to eat. I can do that easily.

    Rodgerinchrist: I would like to see the training schedules, thanks. chalfredmATnetscape.net

    Do you do anything about saddle sores. I was just gonna wear my best padded shorts. Do you use balm or bring it with you? Thanks for all the info. Charlie

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by balto charlie
    Spending the night on the trail was not in the gameplan:-) I will listen to you and bring a space blanket. I guess my commuting light will also be brought but the sucker weighs a bit. I do like those bivy space blankets. Might investigate them. The one suggestion I liked a lot was to eat. I can do that easily.

    Rodgerinchrist: I would like to see the training schedules, thanks. chalfredmATnetscape.net

    Do you do anything about saddle sores. I was just gonna wear my best padded shorts. Do you use balm or bring it with you? Thanks for all the info. Charlie
    Bringing a space blanket is always a good idea, you just never know .... and something like that can even act as a hail shelter or whatever.

    I bring the balm with me ... I don't usually need it until I'm around the 150K point.

  15. #15
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    Hi Balto Charlie-

    I did the C&O in one day a couple of years ago. There were two of us (which makes motivation really important). We travelled really light-- mountain bikes, two bottles with gatorade (and powder to make more), a camel back with water and energy bars, fig newtons and a couple of sandwiches. We planned on 14-15 hours and ended up doing it in just over 13. We didn't stop except to refill water at the convenient pumps along the way and to use the 'don's-johns'. It was a great ride. We rode from Cumberland to DC--the 'downhill' route. We also did it in late June, to take advantage of the long daylight hours. In addition, I carried a little flashlight for the tunnel--and for the first half hour of the ride, as we started early in order to maximize our time.

    I had a rigid bike, and in retrospect, it would have been nice to have a suspension fork, as it was rough--my arms were shaking all the way through the ride- Tony, on the other hand, had a full suspension bike, and he bounced arounda lot too, but his arms didn't seem as tired. Make sure your saddle is comfortable--there really isn't any reason to stand up to pedal-as it is mostly flat.

    As an aside, a friend and I are talking about doing a 'double'... DC to Cumberland on day 1, and Cumberalns to DC on day . That is a long way.

    I highly recommend the ride. (Oh- Iwas in my late forties when I did the ride--I'm 51 now).

    train safe-

  16. #16
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    I rode the C&O two summers ago. (Definitely not in one day though). My observations -

    1. You'll almost certainly want a mountain bike for the trip. There are lots of roots, branches, rough patches, and even some spots where some genius used large rocks to pave about a mile and a half of the trail.

    2. I can't recommend riding through the Paw-paw tunnel. It is very uneven, and you could easily be bounced into the wall, the rail, or worse.

    3. Plan on having flats and minor equipment issues.

    4. Make sure you know the route for the detour on the road, and from the end of the exclusive use trail to the "Mile 0" marker.

    5. There will be lots of temptations to stop and look at the sights. You'll almost have to make the ride over again for the more relaxed experience.

    6. Try to go when it is cool, and has been dry for about a week. Otherwise, you'll have to ride through a million mud-holes.

    7. Take your time going by the barriers bracketing the road crossings. They're kind of narrow, and it's easy to catch your handlebars on an obstruction if you're rushing.

    8. Everything everyone else has said.

    Good luck with it. Riding it all the way through is an accomplishment. Doing it in one day will be something to really brag about.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  17. #17
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    I rode a long one yesterday, 99.1 miles in 7 hours. I know, not a century but damn close. I wanted to try riding non paved trails for long distances to see how my bike and I held up. i rode 70 miles of it on crushed stone trail, NCR trail. It has to be one of the smoothest non-paved trails out there. I rode my Miyata 1000 touring bike, brooks saddle, toe clips. I felt very comfortable, legs were strong(could have ridden longer), butt was good, no saddle sores, arms didn't feel too bad BUT my neck gave me problems. It was sore for the last 10 miles or so. I drank 10 litres of water, gatorade etc..ate 3 Cliff bars, a couple of granola bars, powerhouse sandwich, some protein drink(sucked),nuts, dried fruit and bananas. Never boink but was tired. I guess nexted up is the C&O in a day. I'll keep y'all updated.

    buelito: Congrats, good luck. have you thought about a 2 day ride to Pitt?? I've been toying with the idea of a mnt bike. I just rode from my home in Catonsville to York Pa(via the NCR trail) then down to Towson on a touring bike. The NCR trail is well packed and the bike handled it flawlessly. It's my most comfortable bike. What size tires did you ride? I was riding 37s yesterday. I have a fairly comfortable mnt bike that I use for commuting that I've thought about.
    USAZ: thanks. I hear the zero trail marker is a bit tough to find. Any clues here would be appreciated.
    Machka: I used the balm from the get go. I was lazy and didn't want to carry it. I will bring it for the C&O ride.

  18. #18
    pointless & uncalled for
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    I did a 200k Brevet yesterday. My advice, prepare yourself for the kind of day where it's going to rain all day long. Where water gets inside your waterproofs and everything feels wet and cold. Not only will you feel uncomfortable, but you'll also find yourself falling behind your usual pace.

    Also, ziploc baggies are an absolute must.

  19. #19
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Any possibility of having a support van leap-frogging down the route, meeting you along the way? Something has to get you to the start.
    This space open

  20. #20
    RPM: 85. MPH: varies. edtrek's Avatar
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    +2 all of the above.

    Two minor additions:
    800 mg Motrins
    Assos chamois creme

    Sounds like a great adventure. ENjoy !

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